Richard Littlejohn’s return to television will see him tackling the rise of anti-Semitism in Britain – an admirable stand or just a desperate attempt to put clear water between him and the BNP?
In teaser trailers for his upcoming Channel 4 documentary, ‘The War On Britain’s Jews?‘, iconoclastic columnist Richard Littlejohn dubs anti-Semitism ‘the oldest bigotry of them all’. And when those words are spoken by a man whose biggest career asset has been bigotry, then, naturally, one sits up and listens.
And it’s not a subject matter that should be taken lightly. Most will have found the sight of graves daubed with swastikas to be deeply unsettling. And even the briefest history of anti-Semitism in Britain will send a shiver through any viewer’s spine. Recent reports will show that, whatever you make of the programme, this is a genuine concern.
But Richard Littlejohn, a man who frequently equates homosexuality with paedophilia and referred to the Palestinian people as the ‘pikeys’ of the Middle East, is not normally one to leap to the defence of minorities. Unless, of course, he has something to gain.
Littlejohn’s most notorious moment came not from something he said, but from something that was said about him – when BNP leader Nick Griffin named Littlejohn as his favourite columnist. Of course, Richard didn’t thank him for the honour, and will maintain that he has continuously opposed the BNP – referring to them as ‘knuckle-scraping scum’.
But to say Richard ‘dismissed’ the BNP as ‘knuckle-scraping scum’ is to be creative with the truth. The remark was actually in made in passing during a full-frontal anti-Palestinian rant. Indeed, scrub out the ‘knuckle-scraping’ line, and Nick would have had another column for his scrapbook.
In the run up to May’s elections, the Daily Mail hosted an online Q&A session with Richard Littlejohn. I was intrigued to see one chat-room patron ask why politicians ‘were so afraid of the BNP’. In response, Littlejohn warned that while the BNP might promise ‘action’ (on what, exactly?), underneath, they were still the same ‘violent, knuckle-scraping, anti-Semitic scum they always have been’.
Allow me to play devil’s advocate, but anti-Semitism doesn’t seem to be a priority for the modern far-right. Nick Griffin’s bile-filled blog makes no complaints about Jewish people, and judging by Iain Cobain’s shocking undercover report into the BNP, anti-Semitism is no longer a vote-winner for the BNP. While I don’t deny that sickening anti-Semitism exists under the surface, it’s hardly the first charge I’d hit the BNP with.
My guess is that those who tune in on Monday will witness Littlejohn desperately splashing and struggling, trying to establish some clear water between him and the BNP. He may succeed, or he may not. Again, I might be wrong, but I don’t think Nick will mind a little paddle anyway.