Richard Littlejohn warns activists to watch out for the police

Oh, he is a one, isn’t he? That Littlejohn bloke: such a character! I mean, he’s only gone and put those lefty wheelchair types in their place. And quite funny he was, too….

Yeah, yeah. We’ve probably all read the piece by now. Anyone with an ounce of radicalism in them will be up in arms – though possibly at not quite the right target. Littlejohn will be referred to the pcc and maybe – just maybe – get his wrist slapped.

This will, of course, fulfil two functions: it will make the pcc feel better and, simultaneously, it will enable them to claim that they really really aren’t afraid to take on the Mail. Meanwhile, Littlejohn will bask in the glow of all the attendant publicity. The trending of his name on twitter means his column will scale new heights of reader numbers…and barring a miracle or act of God, he will continue to spew out his vile nonsense.

So. What’s my take on this latest nastiness? The column is actually a piece in two halves. There is a bit of politics up front: and a crafted pastiche of Little Britain toward the end. Not unsurprisingly, it is the end bit that has drawn much of the fire, but I’d question whether it should.

Andy Pipkin (the focus) is an appalling stereotype to conend with if you’re a disability activist: the basic premise is of an able-bodied person malingering under guise of being wheelchair-bound. The same joke is made and remade with every sketch featuring this character.

Littlejohn’s copycatting is not really a lot worse than the sketch itself, and should be subject to much the same analysis. It won’t be, because the kneejerk reaction is always going to be: Mail…Littlejohn…disability joke…appalling. Perhaps it is: it is certainly unfair to associate the target of Littlejohn’s venom – Jody McIntyre – with this slur. But that’s a different matter.

Still, I said much of the complaint is likely to be aimed at the wrong target. I stand by that: because although the skit is eye-catching, the serious nastiness lies in the more prosaic politics at the front.

Littlejohn writes: “A man in a wheelchair is as entitled to demonstrate as anyone else. But he should have kept a safe distance.

“Mcintyre put himself on offer and his brother pushed him into the front line. It’s not as if he didn’t know there was going to be trouble.”

Ri-ight. Stop me if you’ve heard this one: its so funny. It’s the line – sorry, joke – about the woman wearing a short skirt who got beaten up and raped on the way home. Cause, as every fule know, if she was doing that .. well, what else would she expect? She shouldn’t have put herself on offer!

Much like me and my journeys to London. If I’m on the streets late at night. Well… a “man in a dress”: if I get taken aside and have the crap beaten out of me, what else was I expecting? And so on.

Now that’s not to deny basic common sense. And this does not contradict what I just wrote: I probably would be foolhardy to wander some parts of London late at night. Likewise, there are some places that women would be better advised to visit only in company or bearing arms. But that is not in any way because we are “to blame” for the fact that there are idiots at loose in the world.

Homicidal idiots are a fact of life, in much the same way that speeding cars and electrified railways are: they exist; they are to be avoided. However, nothing in the conduct of the victim ever, ever excuses the behaviour of their aggressor.

I might suggest – playfully, of course – that given his known penchant for viciousiness about trans persons and other minorities, Littlejohn really shouldn’t walk the streets of London. Because it would be only natural if someone like me walked up and twatted him. Littlejohn really should not put himself “on offer”.

That said, I am not sure Littlejohn is quite as aware of what he is saying here as he thinks. Just who was McIntyre putting himself “on offer” to?

Er: the Police, one can only presume. So in Littlejohn’s universe, the police are a bunch of thugs and if one goes to a demo, one is just asking to be beaten up by the police?

Not quite the sort of law-abiding message that I would have thought the Mail readership were expecting. But there you have it. Perhaps it is time to stop being quite so critical of Littlejohn. He pretends to be a racist, sexist, homophobic bigot…but in reality, like one of those deep sleepers with which lovers of John LeCarré will be familiar – he is an anti-establishment mole, dedicated to implanting images of police brutality in the minds of a semi-comatose populace.

Gosh! At this rate, one could even get to like him.



About janefae

On my way from here to there
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4 Responses to Richard Littlejohn warns activists to watch out for the police

  1. Jennie Kermode says:

    Agreed. But in addendum, I don’t think it is right for disabled people to be treated just like everybody else in this context. Even if we were to agree that there were circumstances in which force might acceptably be used, dragging a disabled person out of a wheelchair is not on a par with dragging an apparently able-bodied person because there is a significantly higher chance that a person in a wheelchair may have a condition which will make that really dangerous. I know that if I were dragged as Jody was I would probably incur several broken bones. Other wheelchair users need their chairs to support them so that they can keep breathing. As it happens, Jody doesn’t have a condition of that type – the police got lucky – but it was a really stupid thing to do. It’s not patronising to acknowledge that disabled people are more likely to have certain vulnerabilities. What is really insulting is the fact that vulnerable people lose their right to demonstrate as a result of tactics like this.

    • janefae says:

      sure. No prob with that, jennie. But that just comes within the normal range of responding sensibly and appropriately to what presents itself. Police should be aware of issues specific to disabled persons…just as you might expect police to be able to distinguish between a six foot six psychotic wielding an axe and a slight five-footer with a placard sayng “make love no war” (obviously come down hard on the placard waver, as there’s a spike on the end of their pole!).

      Perhaps, though, its a police precautionary tactic: dissuade the chairbound buggers before they realise what power they have. Ben Brown asked Jody if he was moving toward the police.

      OMG! Horrors! Wheelchair charges police at full pelt. But what if…what if…there were twenty of them and, and…they formed up into a line and….and Boudicca-style, they fixed blades to the wheels of their chairs. Well:THEN they’d be a threat.

      And its to avert scenes like that that the police have to come down hard at the first sign they’re getting uppity!


    • Dennis Queen says:

      brilliant post and I have expanded on these posts in my blog too. some of our danners have breathing (and other) apparatus attached to chair – some of which has a direct line into people’s bodies. It’s a stupid officer who risks dragging us fro our chairs

      HOWEVER We find in the justice system so far (due to ignorance? or something else?) if it’s good enough for non disabled it’s good enough for us and the police are not expected to make allowances for us by courts – even when risking our lives – we’ve watched them get away with disgraceful dangerous behaviour before and we get the blame for being there. as jane says this is utter bollocks and against our right to protest.

      As you’ll see on my blog – police best practice is still to be as careful as possible when moving anybody – (and London cops do know how to treat disabled people) – as it’s impossible to tell by eye who is vulnerable.

  2. Dennis Queen says:

    Hm. Nice to see the underlying message nobody’s noticing brought out by Jane here, – although Jane Fae it’s crtainly not an either or thing. All of it was shit. The ‘Andy’ stuff is already a common cosh for us when harassed in the street – most of us who both use a wheelchair and not tend to stay in our chairs when we’re out otherwise we are harassed almost guaranteed every time.

    That happened anyway but it’s worsened, plus cultural reference since Andy gave the ignorant public fuel. Littljohn is refuelling stupid ignorant readers. We’re sick of people thinking …it’s ok to make a joke of us. And the joke ISN’T that Andy can wak… the sketches are far more complex than that but unfortunately most miss the point – the sketches are about how stupid some non disabled ‘helpers’ are. Andy is being patronised in a way we all get patronised and treated stupidly – HIS ABILITIES ARE UNDERESTIMATED, . Conseqauently he spends his days making a tit of his carer – the joke is on the carer not Andy.

    it’s why the DPM hasn’t been up in arms about ;little britain – or littlejohn. suspect the complainants are mostly non disbled people we’ve got bigger fish to fry than this bigotted prick, we’re being …sent back to institutions by the cuts – littlejohn is a crumb in the context of important issues for disabled people right now. nobody’s even commented from our movement on his spew. thought I understand Jane really your interest is likely not about ethics of how disabled people are talked about in public – but about journalism – it kind of misses out how these issues affect us altogether. (how we are talked about and how this affects us day to day in the street).

    My own comments about Jody’ situation and why the police were being stupid and dangerous are here: you might look a bit less like you’re missing the other relevant points if you reference some DPM critique on what happened to Jody.

    hadn’t even bothered to read his piece til you blogged it! sso the first bit is a bit ironic too, as you also are publicising his spew 😉

    I think andy is a disabled person – he seems to have learning difficulties plus a massive sense of humour. his carer deserves EVERY bit of crap Andy dishes out. ‎(the same joke is repeated with Ann as well – again patronage underestimation – stupid non disabled people making tits of themselves). if it were just jokes about disabled people not being as disabled asothers think it poroabbly wouldn’t have been accepted on TV. thos jokes are about stupidity of services which work with our people and are very insightful and funny

    Dennis xx

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