Littlejohn slams non-existent ‘hop-scotch lessons to Asian women’


11:40 am - February 17th 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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Richard Littlejohn’s column in the Daily Mail yesterday started off with: “For the past 20-odd years, this column has made a decent living documenting the insanity and waste in Britain’s Town Halls.”

He’s actually making a good living out of peddling rumours and stories that have no basis in reality.

In a column attacking the typical ‘political correctness gone mad’ tripe, we come across this gem:

One South London council appointed a full-time adviser to deal with the very special needs of gay alcoholics. Haringey hired someone to give hopscotch lessons to Asian women.

I haven’t bothered fact-checking the first claim, but the second is truly hilarious.

This particular urban myth was actually floated years ago, by the former Conservative Party chairman, Sir Brian Mawhinney.

In a conference speech in 1995, he mocked Labour’s political correctness by deriding a decision by the Labour-controlled Camden council to fund the Hopscotch Asian Women’s Group.

But actually…

Hopscotch AWC offers support services for Asian women and their families on a wide range of issues including domestic violence, benefits, housing, education, immigration and health matters. We provide advocacy and support to people with learning disabilities.

Sir Mawhinney was mocked then for making the mistake. But it seems 15 years later, Richard Littlejohn is still recycling the same urban myths.

Over at Primly Stable blog, where this story was uncovered, there’s also several instances listed where Littlejohn simply recycles his own material.

The 28 March 2010 column was actually an extended extract from his latest book.

So he wrote it for the book, copied and pasted it for the promotional column and then copied and pasted that 11 months later.

You couldn’t make it up.

There’s also a brilliant comment there by Howard Knight, who recounts how the ‘Asian Hopscotch’ story hurt Mawhinney’s career.

With Mawhinney still on his feet, I phoned the information and rebuttal through to Adrian McMenemy – then a young Labour Party Press Officer who was at the Conference. He provided a comprehensive and withering brief to all the journalists at the Conference.

Mawhinney left the stage, basking in the applause of his adoring audience, only to be met by journalists demanding why he’d been attacking Conservative government-funded schemes and the Royal Family.

From then, it all went pear-shaped for him

If only someone could do that to Richard Littlejohn’s career.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


What does he know in his gated Florida community anyway?

The man is totally irrelevant as is his sad pathetic excuse for a newspaper.

Littlejohn is truly the worst form of human life. I’m amazed he hasn’t joined the BNP yet the amount of bullshit he spouts regarding minorities.

3. Chaise Guevara

Maybe someone ought to start a counter-campaign of lies? Not anything that referred to any specific individuals by name, of course, just a load of made-up nasty stories about an anonymous “ignorant, malicious and hypocritical Daily Mail journalist with an amusingly apt name”.

Once again Little prick brings in the gay to scare his followers.

What would conservatives do without the scary gay to frighten all the wing nuts?

You do well to correct such sloppy journalism, Sunny.

However I cannot agree with over a million pounds of public money being expended on an organisation that discriminates according to sex and is inherently racist.

The Daily-Mail-O-Matic headline generator just provided the following little gem for me:

“ARE LESBIANS GIVING THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY CANCER?”

You couldn’t make it up…. well, it you were the Mail you probably could ;)

(hat tip to: http://www.qwghlm.co.uk/toys/dailymail/)

Surely the main point to be made is that Littlejohn is now at The Mail, albeit recycling stuff which had its first outing [sic] at the Sun.

That tells me more about the ongoing London media war, and the downwardly mobile journalism of the Mail, than anything about Littlejohn.

By the way, does anyone with a passing knowledge of American slang know how “Littlejohn” survives the mockery?

8. Chaise Guevara

@ 7

“the downwardly mobile journalism of the Mail”

Scary thought.

“By the way, does anyone with a passing knowledge of American slang know how “Littlejohn” survives the mockery?”

Possibly by turning himself into a misanthropic cunt?

@pagar #5:

“However I cannot agree with over a million pounds of public money being expended on an organisation that discriminates according to sex and is inherently racist.”

Hmm. Do you know many white Englishmen requiring ESOL classes, for example?

You really coudn’t make Littlejohn up as a character in a piece of fiction, he would be considered to be too unbelievable.
Personally I’m glad that he is around, it’s a constant reminder for why I’m on the left of centre.

Hmm. Do you know many white Englishmen requiring ESOL classes, for example?

Not really the point.

You can’t have “good” or “bad” discrimination. It is either legitimate or it is not.

Once you accept that it is, the worms get out of the can.

12. Robin Levett

@pagar #11:

“Not really the point.

You can’t have “good” or “bad” discrimination. It is either legitimate or it is not.

Once you accept that it is, the worms get out of the can.”

Since when has it been discrimination to provide services that white Englishmen won’t need, but Asian women will?

Since when has it been discrimination to provide services that white Englishmen won’t need, but Asian women will?

Assuming that all groups contribute to the provision of the services, it is surely discriminatory to provide them to one group and not another.

And we are told that the most pernicious kind of discrimination is that based on gender and race are we not?

14. Cynical/Realist?

@11 Presumably if such services were offered on a completly non-discriminatory basis we’d instead be hearing about wasteful services that haven’t even bothered to tailor their support to the relevent/appropriate constituencies.

Its hardly support not offered to other people via other groups anyway, just because an individual organisation has a specific target group doesn’t mean the objectives of such funding is limited to that group alone.

15. Cynical/Realist?

@13 Oh, come on now…

It said in the OP –
Hopscotch AWC offers support services for Asian women and their families on a wide range of issues including domestic violence, benefits, housing, education, immigration and health matters. We provide advocacy and support to people with learning disabilities.

Can you really not see how the accessing of these services and the issues faced by people wouldn’t make a culturally sensitive approach beneficial? Similar services are available for many other groups facing these issues in society. Its not just for this one group – its just this organisation for this group, there are many others. But the nature of the issue makes a service tailored to a constituency almost vital to its success.

You’ll be saying next that a refuge for women suffering extreme domestic violence shoudn’t turn away a homeless man.

Hopscotch AWC offers support services for Asian women and their families on a wide range of issues including domestic violence, benefits, housing, education, immigration and health matters. We provide advocacy and support to people with learning disabilities.

So a white or Somali or woman needing support on any of these issues would be excluded from seeking support from this group (which is funded from general taxation). The reason they are excluded is because of their racial background.

That is clearly ………racist.

Can you imagine the furore if a council funded a group that specifically excluded participants of Asian origin?

17. Robin Levett

@pagar #16:

“So a white or Somali or woman needing support on any of these issues would be excluded from seeking support from this group (which is funded from general taxation). The reason they are excluded is because of their racial background.”

Is the average white or Somali woman a native Urdu speaker?

18. Robin Levett

@pagar #16 (contd):

..or maybe Sylheti? Bengali? Nepali?

“Can you imagine the furore if a council funded a group that specifically excluded participants of Asian origin?”

Exactly what do you think the average DWP office looks like for a woman who doesn’t speak English as a native, from a community where women do not traditionally take the lead outside the home?

@ 15 Cynical/Realist

“You’ll be saying next that a refuge for women suffering extreme domestic violence shoudn’t turn away a homeless man.”

Yeah, libertarian wing nuts always end up hoist on their own petard…. it’s the reductio ad absurdam, bending over backwards until they fall down.

@ Galen

Surely we can discuss without trading insults?

“You’ll be saying next that a refuge for women suffering extreme domestic violence shoudn’t turn away a homeless man.”

Yeah, libertarian wing nuts always end up hoist on their own petard…. it’s the reductio ad absurdam, bending over backwards until they fall down.

A domestic violence centre is not sexist. But one that refuses to help male victims of domestic violence is, by definition, sexist. It discriminates on grounds of sex.

A centre which helps people and their families on a wide range of issues including domestic violence, benefits, housing, education, immigration and health matters but discriminates by only helping clients of a particular sex and ethnic origin is, by the nature of it’s discrimination, both sexist and racist.

This should be pretty simple to follow, it is only language and logic but apparently not. When you are absolutely determined to see the emperor’s clothes, such things are easily discarded.

Of course you can argue the merit of funding sexist and racist organisations but that is a different discussion.

21. James from Durham

Pagar

What would be racist is if the council only provided services to a particular ethnic group or proovided no accessible services to some ethnic group. Now we are getting to the point. This service is needed because the more mainstream services are not in reality accessible to this service’s client group. What would be racist is if the Council did not provide services accessible to this significant but marginalised group. Look at the big picture.

The Hopscotch Asian Women’s Centre illustrates a perennial problem with council bureaucracies. It was founded in the late 1970s to meet a specific need: looking after the needs of homeless Asians (mostly Bangladeshis), of whom there were quite a number in Camden at the time.

But over the years the problem was resolved. Now there isn’t a homeless Bangladeshi problem in Camden.

But instead of quietly folding its tents, the centre continues to consume public money and has found new roles dispensing “advice” of a kind that can be readily found on the internet or at one of a number of other advice centres.

There should be sunset clauses built into all initiatives of this sort to prevent the limitless call on public funds made by a constantly expanding sector.

21
It’s pointless asking right wingers to look at the bigger picture, most of them are concrete-thinkers. Perhaps we need a group to assist them to think contextually.

22 When established private companies find a gap in the market to fulfill unmet needs, they are congratulated for efficiency and innovation.
When a public service does the same it seems that this is unacceptable.

25. Chaise Guevara

@ 22 steveb

“When established private companies find a gap in the market to fulfill unmet needs, they are congratulated for efficiency and innovation.
When a public service does the same it seems that this is unacceptable.”

I don’t think I’ve often backed flowerpower when it comes to public spending, but I think the point being made is that this gap in the market has been filled already; a private company wouldn’t waste time duplicating the service, but a public charity can because it gets funding either way. It’s reasonable if true.

26. Chaise Guevara

@ 24, I mean!

That story was so big in 1995 ,Littlejohns must recall how it was nothing to do with Hotch skotch, let’s start a campaign to point out that Littlejohn knows this is a lie.

john p_reid @ 27,

Is that what we are all saying? It seems to me that flowerpower may have a point:

There should be sunset clauses built into all initiatives of this sort to prevent the limitless call on public funds made by a constantly expanding sector.

On the other hand he could be talking rubbish. I have no idea.

Seems to me that a viewpoint on this sort of thing should not be subject to anything whatsoever in the Daily Mail. Mr Littlejohn should be asked to put up or shut up. The devil is in the detail.

Perhaps Sunny has got him bang to rights.

I kind of hope so, because he is a particularily objectionable talking head.

29. Chaise Guevara

I’ve just had a proper look at Littlejohn’s column. It’s great!

“For the past 20-odd years, this column has made a decent living documenting the insanity and waste in Britain’s Town Halls. If all else failed, there was always the Guardian jobs pages on a Wednesday to dig me out of a hole.”

In other words: Britain is full of stupidity! It’s self-evident if you spend all day trying to find it.

“The recruitment of five-a-day enforcers, lesbian bereavement counsellors and assorted real nappy outreach co-ordinators was guaranteed to raise a giggle.”

Yes, life just hasn’t been the same since the council hired a man to stand over me with a gun and force me to eat a fruit salad every day

“When the last Labour government unveiled an initiative designed to encourage parents to walk their children to school rather than use their cars, I joked that within days councils would be hiring legions of ‘walking to school’ officers on thirty grand and a Mondeo.”

Interesting point. Nobody could possibly approve of such a job. Oh, wait…

“So they cynically close libraries, day centres and swimming pools and give P45s to school dinner ladies and lollipop men.”

Lollipop men? Is that the same thing as legions of “crossing the road” officers?

“Is the average white or Somali woman a native Urdu speaker?”

If they can’t speak English, how will they ever be able to find a job and pay rent on these properties?

Hilarious posts from pagar. Either tiresome trolling or he is thick as two short planks.

“Assuming that all groups contribute to the provision of the services, it is surely discriminatory to provide them to one group and not another.”

Hysterical.

This thread has been overlong, repetitive and now, quite frankly, trite and boring.

Even so, let us recall that the spirit of Richard Littlejohn is alive, and well, and living in Hammersmith and Fulham. There the Council is purging the charities and groups from Palingswick House to provide a roof for Mr Toby Young’s “Free School”.

For those who have not seen it, here is the final item of the Rotten Boroughs page of the current issue of “Private Eye”:

“Documents prepared for Conservative Hammersmith & Fulham council’s cabinet list alternative provision available for those who may miss the services provided groups such as the Afghan Council UK and the Iranian Association.

“According to the H&F briefing, any Iranian dissidents finding themselves in West London are advised to seek a sympathetic ear at, er, the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“Afghani refugees, meanwhile, can find an “excellent alternative” in the Southern Afghan Club (SAC). Hitherto the SAC has given its advice exclusively to owners of … pedigree Afghan hounds. No doubt it will now be happy to expand its activities to include families fleeing the Taliban. It’s what the Big Society’s about.”

As one might say, “You couldn’t make it up.”

flowerpower, there is ahomelss asian Woamn problem now, well if so that becasue Hop Skotch worked, I was homelss for 3 months in a squat without heat and water in 1993, Isee the Tories shutting down hostels now, and hte thought of seeing the Thatcher legacy of Cardboard city returning horrifies me, if there’s not homelssness now,It’s not because the Likes of Littlejohn saying that coucils are full of loonies, its because Labour sorted out a terrible tory legacy Homelessness


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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  11. Sabrina

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  12. Pauline Hammerton

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  13. sunny hundal

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  14. Chris Paul

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  15. Jennifer McMahon

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  26. Mike Barton

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  27. Mike Barton

    Littlejohn slams non-existent ‘hop-scotch lessons to Asian women’ | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/fwpOpv4 via @libcon





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