Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
20 October 2009

Richard Littlejohn is right!

A sentence I never thought I'd write . . .

By Mehdi Hasan

I have always believed Richard Littlejohn of the Mail to be one of this country’s most prejudiced, narrow-minded and reactionary right-wing commentators: a writer who prefers to indulge the casual bigotry of his readers rather than confront them with facts, figures or reasoned arguments.

But not today. In his column, Littlejohn takes on Nick Griffin, the BNP and the BBC with a verve and gusto conspicuously absent from much of the commentary by the centrist, liberal and left-wing press. Littlejohn argues, for example, that:

. . . the BNP isn’t a serious force at Westminster, nor is it likely to have any MPs after the next general election. So the BBC is under no obligation to give Griffin a platform.

We are told the programme offers an opportunity to expose the BNP. To whom?

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

The party trawls for support among white working-class voters, those the advertisers refer to as C2DEs.

Content from our partners
How do we secure the hybrid office?
How materials innovation can help achieve net zero and level-up the UK
Fantastic mental well-being strategies and where to find them

How many of them do you imagine watch something as cerebral as Question Time?

“Oi, Doris. I never realised the BNP were racists. I’ll be voting Lib Dem in future.”

If they’re hoping that Griffin will come across as the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler, they are going to be sorely disappointed. He won’t rise to the bait.

Littlejohn — deep breath! — is right. Griffin won’t come across as a Hitler figure, or as a fascist or a nutter. He will, instead, calmly pontificate on the issues of the week (postal strike, anyone?) and will be applauded. And the BNP will move one step closer to the mainstream of British politics.

The more I think about this, the more I become convinced that Thursday night on BBC1 will be car crash TV. I only hope I’m proved wrong.