I told myself off for wasting time on Richard Littlejohn's column. I like to think it is just a bad dream, or like the falling tree in the deserted forest, I'm not really sure if he can be heard.
Anyway, I'd forgotten about an online chat he had with the people on 3rd May 2007. This was the day Madeleine McCann went missing so he wasn't able to give us his incisive view of Portuguese policing.
However, it is another example of the censorship of the DM and the protection afforded to Britain's most outspoken columnist. Whilst it is understandable that there should be a filter to prevent abusive comments and allow for constructive debate, the questions that were selected were completely sycophantic and an insult to any loyal reader of the paper who doesn't hold exactly the same views. They might as well have got Ferne Cotton to grill him about his favourite colour and what amazing bands he liked. Most of the questions posed are so loaded as to preclude a need for an answer. My childish sarcasm is in blue!
How Richard Littlejohn answered your webchat questions
Britain's most outspoken columnist Richard Littlejohn joined us for an exclusive webchat. See how the man who politicians fear most, who has the courage to write what you think, answered your questions:
admin: Good Afternoon, welcome to the chat. Richard is now here to answer your questions.
admin: Hello Richard
Richard_Littlejohn Hi everybody, thanks for joining me this afternoon.
Peter: What's your view on the United Kingdom as it stands? Does it need serious reforming or should it be dissolved and each member part be allowed to go its own way?
Richard_Littlejohn Peter, I think the Union is in a precarious state because of the cavalier policies of the past 10 years. (yes everything went wrong after May 1st 1997) Those of us who warned that devolution would lead to the break-up of the kingdom were shouted down, but we look like being proved right. I'm a unionist but I don't think you can coerce people into staying together.
Richard_Littlejohn What is outrageous is that the English, 90 per cent of the UK, are never consulted. We can't continue with a situation where Scottish and Welsh MPs get to vote on policies which affect the English but not their own constituents.
ken: There's been a lot of comment about apathy in UK politics, that there's not much between Labour and Conservative. Don't you think the media are to blame for this perception of not enough scope between the political parties? Richard_Littlejohn The broadcast media, maybe. not the Daily Mail. He who pays the piper?
jackie: Many of us in the UK despair of the politicians we have. Can you name a politician who in your opinion, is real. Not self serving, and genuinely in the job because he/she believes in what they are doing?
Richard_Littlejohn Not one who is ever likely to achieve high office, no. that's why you should stand Richard...oh you don't reside in the UK, do you?
markwilliams: I'm in the process of emmigrating - or at least kicking the process off. Can you think of any reason why I should stay?
Richard_Littlejohn Depends who old you are, Mark. What depresses me is that so many young people no longer see a future in Britain.
caribbean: Do you think Gordon Brown will make a better PM than Tony Blair? Richard_Littlejohn NO.
Jim: Richard, why are the Government so keen on such high levels of immigration? I live in the South East and it's clear that the last thing we need are more people.
Richard_Littlejohn After the Tories won their third victory in 1987, Labour decided it could no longer rely on the working class - so it set about importing a new one. There's a chapter on this - and emigration - in Littlejohn's Britain. So, 10 years before they formed a government, when the Tories controlled immigration policy Labour smuggled in all these foreign potential voters. Brilliant!
bob: Richard. Did you see Channel Four's "The great global warming scam"? Has this been blown out of all proportion for the sake of "new taxes"? like the balanced question here!
Richard_Littlejohn Partly, but it's also about control, bullying, punishment and showing us who's boss. you forgot taxation you fool. can't you read a script.
Mike_in_Letcombe: Do you think that 'Call Me Dave' can win the next election bearing in mind that he seems hell bent on alienating the majority of Conservative supporters?clever use of CMD phrase of RLJ's
Richard_Littlejohn I think it's going to be difficult for CMD because the Tories are virtually non-existent in the North of England and parts of the Midlands. While CMD sets about winning them over, he's in danger of alienating natural Tory supporters. who will vote for UKIP or BNP?
gregor: Do you agree that lawyers are overpowerful in their influence in British politics? I'm thinking of their numbers in government and the way they seem to enact laws that serve only to drum up work for themselves, not look after the interests of the victim.
Richard_Littlejohn YES - as Hal said to Dick in Shakespeare: First thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers. I know a lot more lawyer jokes than you'll ever do, RLJ.
bob: Have you ever thought of running for the government? After all you make more sense than they do. About time someone said this.
Richard_Littlejohn Once, a long time a go, but I went away and lay down in a dark room until the urge passed. this is what I do after reading his column.Great minds!
susan: The only thing I'd like to ask is why does the Wicked Witch not like anyone?Another clever use of RLJspeak = Cherie Blair
Richard_Littlejohn She certainly doesn't like me. I think it's because people who love 'human rights' don't actually like human beings. evidence?
Paul: Do you think the police will ever get back to sensible policing? Richard_Littlejohn Not unless there's a sea change and we get directly-elected chief constables and get the politicians and lawyers and 'human rights' specialists off their back. Mind how you go! so we'll have execution festivals near to elections like in the USA.
Who: Who would you like to see as Lord Mayor of London?
Richard_Littlejohn Dick Whittington - anyone but Red Ken. Is RLJ the only person who still uses this moniker?
Pieter: What do you think of the re-opening of the Sangatte refugee camp? Richard_Littlejohn It was inevitable as long as Labour refuses to police our borders.
Richard: Richard, where do you see this country's future? With closer integration with Europe, or closer to the US or neither?
Richard_Littlejohn I think we have a future as a strong independent state with links to the whole world, but if I had to choose between the EU and the US, Uncle Sam would get my vote every time. This served us so well pre-1942 and post 11/9.
Paul: Do you think proportional representation is a better way to go in politics?Richard_Littlejohn NO - you end up with a parliament of nutters and party placemen.
Andy: Do you think that the damage done to the UK can be repaired? Richard_Littlejohn Some but not all, even if the Tories won on a radical platform. Life's a ratchet, not a pendulum.
martin: You're known as a straight-talker on a number of issues. Which is the one issue that really gets your goat?
Richard_Littlejohn Big government.
brian: Any chance of you hosting another TV show like the one you used to have on SKY? We need more of your acerbic wit and analysis of public life. How about something on the internet?
Richard_Littlejohn You never know - I'm making a film for Channel 4 right now and talking to other TV companies about a possible new series. How about Big Brother?
john: Why as Brits are we so futile in protesting about all these stupid people, in authority, blighting our lives?
Richard_Littlejohn The silent majority is just that - silent. That's why we're governed by noisy minorities.
Jim: Do you think Blair believes that he has been a success over the past 10 years ? Richard_Littlejohn Undoubtedly - but then he probably also believes he's brought stability to Iraq, peace to Africa and a invented a cure for cancer.
llamedos: If you found yourself as PM, what would be your first act? Richard_Littlejohn To do what Ronald Reagn did in the US: call in all his ministers and civil servants and tell them "Don't just do something - stand there!"
then fall asleep and forget names
Paul: Should we go the way of Australia and make not voting an offence?Richard_Littlejohn No, the right to vote must include the right not to vote. you can offer "none of the above"
Pieter: Bank charges. Legitimate service charge, or more cream for the fat cats? Richard_Littlejohn Miaaaooooww
Pieter: And should we be allowed by right to have an election when Gordon Brown takes over? In other words he should be forced by law to hold an election. Richard_Littlejohn Within, say three months - YES Fine as long as you asked for one when Major took over. We elect a party to govern, not a PM. Do you understand constitutional matters, Richard?
Blackshirt: Interesting name given the Mail's support of Moseley. Thought it may be a wind up but the question doesn't point to this.Where I live, politicians are united in their message: vote for anyone tomorrow, but not the BNP. Why are politicians so afraid of the BNP? Richard_Littlejohn It's not fear, it's because although many decent people are tempted to vote for the BNP because they think all the main parties are equally useless. Underneath the BNP leadership are the same bunch of racist, anti-Semitic neanderthals they've always been.
To be fair to RLJ he has been outspoken and consistent on this much to the chagrin of BNP groups. However, it is interesting that his views are lapped up by the BNP. You only have to google for RLJ articles and you'll see them quoting him as a source whilst being baffled that he doesn't join them. His recent documentary on anti-Semitism may give a clue as to RLJ's stance. It does not fit in with his usual M.O. though.
gregor: How can we break the stranglehold of the BBC by your old friends the Guardianistas and get some reporting of the concerns of the majority of working, tax-paying people? Another RLJ term. bonus points for attacking the Guardian and BBC in one sentence.
Richard_Littlejohn Difficult, it's cultural - it won't stop until the BBC is broken up.
Petal: In reality what can we the general public do to remove this Labour Government before the next General Election especially as in my constituency we have a Liberal Democrat MP? I consider a vote for her would be a wasted vote as the Lib Dems seem to have no influence on how Parliament works. Richard_Littlejohn Difficult before the next election. When that comes, the only way is to hold your nose and vote Tory. The Lib Dems aren't a serious political party - they're a bunch of oddballs and chancers.
Scott: I tragically missed today's appearance on Loose Women, Richard. I'm looking forward to your new book, what other appearances are due? Richard_Littlejohn I'm doing Steve Wright, Ian Wright (everyone else called Wright, probably) Question Time next week (provisionally) and there are a few others lined up, too.
gregor: I take it that like me, you'll continue to live in this country, for all its faults. But if you had to, which country would you move to and why? Richard_Littlejohn The USA, which for all its faults, takes the idea of individual liberty and democracy much more seriously than we do. someone tell gregor where RLJ send his time
Mike_in_Letcombe: Do you believe that this country is producing well educated young people? From my own experience, I am finding an awful lot of the 'yoof' incapable of adding 2 and 2 together.
Richard_Littlejohn Mike, I think your experience is widespread. The State system seems to see schools as warehouses for children and factories for social engineering, rather than somewhere they go to expand their minds and actually learn to read, write and add up.
Blackshirt: Would you let David Cameron hug you?
Richard_Littlejohn Only if I could wear a hoodie.
Paul: Do you think we should keep the monarchy and Lords or go republic with two elected houses?
Richard_Littlejohn Until about 10 years ago I was a Republican. But since then, the thought of the WW lording it in Buck House has made me think again. We do need a revising second chamber.
Brian: Following on from Petal, how close are we to the situation where so many people are employed by the Govt that they will never vote against it? Richard_Littlejohn We're there already in many parts of Britain. That's why the Tories are stuffed in the North and in Scotland.
Jim: Do you think history will be kind to Blair and Brown ?
Richard_Littlejohn Not if I have anything to do with it.
Doc: Do you really believe that labour will get another term of office after all their mismanagement of this country?
Richard_Littlejohn I hope not, but the electoral system is still rigged against the Tories and don't bet against Gordon trying to cut a deal with his fellow Scot Ming Campbell.
Pete: Who do you think should have become Tory leader? CMD or David Davis? Richard_Littlejohn People seem to like CMD, especially young people and women with families. If only he'd embrace a few more of Davis's policies instead of banging on about windmills.
alfie: Will you offset your carbon footprint everytime you go abroad? Richard_Littlejohn No - actually, I'm thinking of buying a wood-burning Winnebago.
Paul: Should local government go back to not being paid just reasonable expenses?
Richard_Littlejohn Absolutely - I wouldn't even pay their exes. Make them sit once a month, in the evening.
Simon: 85 per cent of the French electorate voted in the recent Presidential election, a fantastic turnout I'm sure you'd agree. How can we reach a similar level when, in your words, you'd only vote Tory while holding your nose? Richard_Littlejohn By offering people a real choice, like they have in France.
gregor: Are we ever likely to get a leader who's a genuine conviction politician again (like Mrs T) or are we doomed to be ruled over by self-serving soundbite-merchants?
Richard_Littlejohn If Yates of the Yard had a bit more evidence, we might have had a PM with a REAL conviction.
wishwitch: How many of your predictions came true about the state of the country?
Richard_Littlejohn Sadly, far too many - and most of them were supposed to be a joke!
shirley: Will we ever get rid of this elf 'n' safety/PC mentality?
Richard_Littlejohn See previous answer about killing all the lawyers!
trilby: Do you think Livingstone could ever be PM?
Richard_Littlejohn Aaaargghhh, I hope not.
do: Do you think trident should be based in England?
Richard_Littlejohn If the Scots don't want it - and all the subsidy which goes with it - I don't see why not.
admin: Time for a few last questions now.
shirley: What's your view of Tony Benn?
Richard_Littlejohn Mad, bad and barking.
Pieter: Should asylum seekers/political refugees who committ an offence automatically be expelled?
Simon: Who do you want to become the next US President?
Richard_Littlejohn Fred Thompson from Law & Order! The last time America elected a real actor, it didn't do too badly!
admin: Thankyou very much to Richard and we hope you enjoyed your chat today.
Richard_Littlejohn It's been my pleasure. Thanks to you all and let's do it again soon.
One of the comments after the event:
So sorry I missed your online chat Richard. However, it seems the questions asked were pretty representative of what most people feel about this government and how the country is being run. Mary, Totnes
This touches on the central proble of censorship and effect on DM readers' perceptions of what the public are thinking.
I wondered if this was the same cross-section of the population interviewed in the paper's Citizens' Jury. (see here)
I wonder why if such peole are truly representative if the Brown Bounce is continuing. Notwithstanding the break with Blair, an opposition hoping to win an election should be leading the polls. Given the early problems faced by Brown in his premiership (floods, foot and mouth, banking, terrorism), the Tories must be worried. Whilst even some DM readers don't like Cameron surely he would be the lesser of two evils if these views were an accurate depiction of the vox populi.
I cannot be bothered criticising all of the questions. Suffice to say, there is little surprising in the results. Some percentages are perhaps lower than expected but not much. Will the DM publish details of how people were selected? Any study or research needs to show this to be taken seriously. How many were asked 10, 10,000?
- A couple of gems from the survey need further discussion:
Some people say there are too many people migrating into Britain. Do you agree or disagree?
Agree: 75 % Disagree 22 % Don't Know: 3 %
Kenneth Mason, 38, of Dunston, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, is a £17,000 a year finance officer, married to 30-year-old shop manager Deborah. He said:
"You feel a stranger in your own home if you walk down the street and hear all the different accents, languages, and see people dressed completely differently. It marks them out as not having integrated into our society. People feel immigrants get breaks British people do not."
- I must admit, last time I was in Gateshead, everyone seemed to be dressed in Newcastle United football shirts. Maybe Ken feels a bit out of it down the Quayside at night with his coat on.
Would you be in favour or against the re-introduction of the death penalty for terrorist murder?
In favour: 58 pc Against: 38 pc Don't know: 3
Nicola Vasey, 21, of East Sheen in south west London, said:
"I think the U.S. has the right idea. In America the death penalty acts as a deterrent to terrorists and it would do the same here."
- See what Nicola did there? Made a completely muddled argument. Suicide bombers? Deterrent? Death Row?
It is sometimes easy to fall into the trap of spending too much time on Planet Daily mail. Most of the contributors to their comments section appear to fall for the same. They speak on behalf of the silent majority and must wrack their brains as to who is voting Labour.
The conservatives made the mistake of playing the immigration card under Hague and Howard (ironic given his ancestry) and did not win. They also played the anti-Euro card. Again it had no impact on floating voters. Cameron seems to drift on the wind. Brown wa quite cunning to invite Thatcher to No.10 as it underlined his assertion that he was a conviction politician, unlike Cameron (and Blair?). Thatcher likes the idea of still influencing opinion.
I have to reiterate my potion. It is not that I merely disagree with the Mail's politics, its repugnant reporting, or twisting of facts to suit its agend -it is its lack of integrity.
It claims it wants free speech and carries stories about how political correctness was preventing it (Jim Davidson, Bernard Manning, DC Thorley) yet it gags its readership despite claims to the contrary:-
This was the response I got to an email expressing concern at not getting posts published whilst the usual suspects are on every day. I made the point that the paper was shooting itself in the foot. If they allowed the odd 'loony lefty' view, it would inevitably lead to more people jumping in to defend the original aticle. A case in point was when, about 10 months ago, I managed to get one through. The post castigated ex-pats for having a go at companies for deserting this country by using Indian call centres and denigrating immigration. Pots and kettles. This resulted in a deluge of comments from overseas attacking me. Voila! QED.