You Couldn’t Make It Up… unless you’re Richard Littlejohn

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the statement “Richard Littlejohn is liar” is closer to being a tautology than an observation but even by his usual pitiful standards his contribution to the burgeoning debate surrounding recent events in a number of Birmingham schools stands out as masterpiece of bullshit and utter fabrication:

Amid all the furore about Islamist infiltration of schools in Birmingham, another story involving the education watchdog Ofsted has received rather less attention.

Inspectors have criticised a rural school in Devon for being insufficiently ‘diverse’. Although they concede that Payhembury Primary is a ‘happy place’, it has been denied an ‘outstanding’ rating because all 68 pupils are of ‘white British heritage’.

Well, they would be. Small villages in Devon tend not to be melting pots of multiculturalism. In fact, outside the big cities, most people in Britain are of ‘white British heritage’ even though the mass immigration of the past 15 years is changing that demographic rapidly.

One very good reason why this particular “story” has received rather less attention, which Littlejohn omits to mention, is the fact that Ofsted inspection to which he’s referring was carried out in March 2010 – here, you can read it for yourself if you like, a facility that the Mail (of course) doesn’t extend to it’s own readers so as not to disturb their illusions with the realisation that they’re being lied to. In fact, the school has since undergone a brief interim assessment, in January 2013, at which point Ofsted decided it was doing well enough to justify pushing back its next full inspection to at least the summer of 2014 and it now seems likely that the school won’t be inspected again until at least the autumn, if not early next year.

Yes, the March 2010 inspection does make the observation that in order to improve further the school should:

- Improve pupil’s awareness and understanding of life in a multicultural society, developing the school’s satisfactory contribution to community cohesion by improving links in contrasting parts of the United Kingdom and abroad.

But if you read the actual report you’ll also so that this was by no means the only reason why the school wasn’t given a rating of ‘outstanding’ rating. Of the 21 criteria and sub criteria on which the school’s performance was assessed it was given an outstanding rating in only three areas; pupil behaviour and the effectiveness of its leadership in driving improvement and in managing teaching and learning. It got a satisfactory rating for promoting community cohesion, hence the inspector’s recommendation noted above, while on the other 17 criteria it was rated “good”, which is why the report also noted that the school needed to:

- Ensure that recent improvements in the attainment and progress of pupils at the end of year 2 are consolidated, with all pupils consistently doing their best.

So it’s a good school which was found to be in need of a little more work in a few areas but which Ofsted felt was heading in exactly the right direction.

Anyway, Littlejohn continues by noting that:

Parents have been told that they must pay £35 to send their children on a ‘sleep-over’ at a school in Isleworth, West London, where three-quarters of pupils are from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Headteacher Penny Hammett wrote: ‘The purpose of this trip is to build up a relationship with a school in a very different community to ours. This will enable our children to gain a better understanding of multicultural Britain, which was identified in our last Ofsted as being an area for development.

‘Through our topics, visitors and discussions we have been developing multicultural awareness in both Britain and throughout the world, but this visit will help us to experience in real life a school where there is a wide mix of children with different ethnic backgrounds and almost 50 per cent of the children do not have English as their first language.’

Knowing how most schools operate, parents will have been asked to pay £35 towards the cost of the 2 day visit to Isleworth but it was also have provision in place to either subsidise or completely cover the cost for any parents who are a low income and who genuine cannot afford to pay. That’s standard practice in almost all state schools, especially primary schools.

It’s also apparent that this is the latest in a series of different activities designed to give children attending the school a chance to see the world outside their own local, rural, neighbourhood. Indeed Littlejohn goes on to quote the chair of the school’s governers, Rev Cate Edmonds, as stating that:

 ‘We are fairly mono-cultural as an area in Devon and we don’t want children growing up thinking the whole world is full of trees and cows.’

All of which seems sensible but, as always, the Mail has found a dissenting voice amongst the local parents:

But one mother objected: ‘I’m astounded by this idea. Just because the children go to a small school in the country does not mean they aren’t aware of people with different-coloured skin to them. It’s very patronising — and for the school they are visiting, too.’

I think the mere fact that this parent uses the phrase “people with different-coloured skin” provides fairly solid evidence for utility of this particular visit. Merely being aware of the existence of “people with different-coloured skin” is not the same as meeting them in person and getting to know them – if it was then idiot parents living in rural Devon wouldn’t be using terms like “people with different-coloured skin”.

Now if you’re at all familiar with Littlejohn’s febrile musing then it’s just about you’ll be expecting the obligatory “I’m not racist, but…” section, and he’s nothing if not a creature of [vile] habit:

Let me make it absolutely clear before the usual excitable suspects start bouncing up and down screaming ‘racism’ that it’s commendable for kids to learn about different cultures.

Exchange visits for schoolchildren have been going on since the Sixties, initially introduced to help them develop their foreign language skills.

I’m fortunate to live in a part of North London where friends and neighbours from all kinds of ethnic and religious backgrounds rub along well together.

Even 25 years ago, my children’s school photo looked as if it had been plucked straight from the pages of a United Colors of Benetton catalogue. But I despise the officially sanctioned cult of separate development masquerading as multiculturalism.

Sorry… he’s fortunate to live where exactly…?

Littlejohn’s Britain doesn’t exist. Literally. He spends much of the year writing from a gated mansion in Florida, and admitted in a recent column that, when he is in Britain, he rarely leaves the house. He is describing a country he sees only through the pages of the right-wing press and his self-reinforcing mailbag. The cumulative effect of poring through more than 300 pages of this isn’t to make the reader feel angry, or indignant, or offended. It is to feel pity for a sad, lonely little man, howling at a world that exists only in his own pornographic imagination.

Okay, so that’s from a book review written by Johann Hari and published by the New Statesman way back in 2007 and Hari has subsequently had his own… err… factual issues but it nevertheless remains the case that Littlejohn is ordinarily resident in a ‘mini mansion’ in Vero Beach, Florida where, according to the 2010 US Census, white folks make up 87.5% of the local population.

But I digress because there’s more blatant misrepresentation to come:

Just as it is appalling that Muslim children in the Midlands are being taught that all white women are prostitutes and Western values are dangerous, so it is only right and proper that pupils growing up in the Devon countryside are made aware of the wider world outside their immediate vicinity.

Okay, we have a reference here to an allegation noted in the newly published Education Funding Agency review of Oldknow Academy, which is one of the Birmingham schools that has this week place placed into special measure by Ofsted, and this is what the actual EFA report says:

35. We were told by teachers that non-Muslim staff are no longer allowed to take Friday assemblies, which only Muslim
teachers can lead. In separate interviews staff told us that during Friday assembly occasionally words have been used such as “white prostitute” which they felt were inappropriate for young children.

Okay, strictly speaking what we have here is hearsay but even so all that the EFA notes is that the words “white prostitute” have allegedly been used on occasion during these Friday assemblies with a question mark against whether this is appropriate language to be using in a primary school.

What this, of course, doesn’t say is that children at the school are being taught that all white women are prostitutes. Littlejohn, and indeed The Daily Mail which made the same claim a couple of days ago on the back of a leaked copy of the same report, have blatantly fabricated that allegation without any more idea of the context in which the term was allegedly used than appears in the quote above.

What neither the Mail’s own journalists (who one would assume are based in London) nor Littlejohn (who of course lives in Florida for most of the year) would be aware of, due to the abject lack of local knowledge and disdain for carrying out even the most basic background research, just in case it might conflict with their preferred narrative and limit their scope for pandering to a racist audience, is that the Oldknow Academy site is less than half-a-mile from Small Heath Park and the old part of the Coventry Road – which used to be part of the A45 until the construction of the Small Heath Highway – and that this is an area which is well known, locally, for having issues with on-street prostitution and kerb-crawling.

Only last year, local Labour MP Shabana Mahmood organised a “summit meeting” at Bordesley Green Girl’s School, which is about a mile-and-a-half away from the Academy on the opposite side of the Coventry Road, to try and address longstanding problems which have been affecting the local community, and as she notes on her own website…

The main issues raised by constituents and discussed at length were crime (particularly drug dealing and prostitution), match day parking [for Birmingham City FC] , derelict land and litter.

One you know the local context then what we have here is a serious question about the content of the EFA report and what appears to be a failure by the agency to adequately investigate and establish the actual context in which, so its claimed, the term “white prostitute” was used during a school assembly, because it is, of course, quite conceivable that was was being issued to children was a warning about problems occurring in and around the local park, even if the language in which that warning was issued would seem to be extremely questionable given the age group we’re dealing with here.

As things stand, it appears that the EFA either didn’t bother to establish the context in which this alleged remark was made or it did but failed to incorporate this information into its report, neither of which is acceptable practice, and were I a local politician I’d certainly be contacting the organisation for further clarification of this part of the report.

Anyway, back to the bullshit…

No, what bothers me about all this is the language being used and the element of compulsion — as well as the frankly sinister revelation that a school can be marked down by Ofsted not because of the standard of education it provides but because there are too few black and brown faces in the playground.

Why should a school be penalised because its pupils are from a ‘white British heritage’ background?

Except, of course, that we’ve already seen the claim that the school failed to get an outstanding rating because of the one item (out of 21 on which it was assessed) is an outright lie and the fact that Ofsted suggested that this was an area that the school could improve has nothing whatsoever to do with the number of “black and brown faces in the playground”; in fact, if the events of this last week have proved anything it’s that having too many “brown faces” in the playground can be much of a liability.

The school was rating as “good” – as is entirely clear from it’s inspection report – because that is the standard of education it was found to be providing when it was inspected four years ago.

And with that observation I’ll leave it there, not because there aren’t several more paragraphs of utter bullshit that I could pick to piece but simply because I’ve already more than adequately demonstrated that the fundamental premise on which Littlejohn’s entire piece is based is nothing more nor less than an outright fabrication.

Nevertheless I should note that Littlejohn, being of course a creature of [vile] habit, manages to include his signature line toward the end of the article:

You couldn’t make it up.

But, as usual, Littlejohn has made it up.

What Saatchi Doesn’t Tell You

Okay, I’m going to keep this short and sweet because I’m working on something else at the moment but there a little something that I want to toss into the growing online debate about the “Saatchi Bill” or, to give its proper title, the Medical Innovation Bill. The back story here, if you’ve not come across it before, starts with the death, in 2011, of the author Josephine Hart the cause of which was primary peritoneal cancer. Hart was married to the wealthy PR guru and Conservative peer Maurice Saatchi and it is as a member of the House of Lords that Saatchi is seeking to introduce a private Bill which he claims which he, his supporters and a slick and… Read more »

The Indy plumbs new depths of irresponsibility

I expect at least some of you will recall that “The Independent” was originally launched as a quality newspaper. Those days have, however, long since passed as evidenced by today’s front page splash: But before you take any of those statements too seriously, you really pay close attention to the caveats in paragraphs 9 & 10 of the article that goes with this scaremongering headline:

Commenting on the new studies, Dr Aylin said they added up to “powerful” evidence of a global problem in healthcare. “The German study is interesting in raising afternoon surgery as an issue, but as the authors acknowledge, it may be that ‘the patients treated in the afternoon and on the weekends were more severely ill’,” he said…. Read more »

DoH report refutes Indy’s “Lost Girls” Sex-Selective Abortion Exposé

Sometimes it’s not so much what newspapers print as what they don’t print that matters. Last week, for example, the Department of Health published what was supposedly “new” guidance on sex-selective abortion, if a simple restatement of the existing legal position, which remains entirely unchanged, can actually be called “new”. The Telegraph, which has been pushing the issue of sex-selective abortion for quite some time, made a bit of a show of reporting the story and, of course, complaining bitterly that their own ‘sting’ operation on two doctors who were allegedly willing to carry out sex-selective abortions, when they were approached by an undercover journalist working for the newspaper, failed to result in any kind of prosecution. However, as I… Read more »

Doctor Who, Female Writers and an Inconvenient Truth

I think I said most of what I have to say on the subject of bringing more female writers in to work on Doctor Who last year and I really can’t see that much has changed or moved on in last twelve months, other that maybe that Jane Goldman could be entirely forgiven for telling the British SF community to go fuck themselves after the way her husband, Jonathan Ross, was treated over an invitation to present this year’s Hugo Awards. Just because I’ve nothing much to add at the moment doesn’t mean, of course, that this issue shouldn’t or that it’s wrong to ask searching questions about some of the editorial decisions that will shape the next series. There… Read more »

What The Telegraph doesn’t tell you about Sex-Selective Abortion

Harry G Frankfurt’s classic monograph “On Bullshit” begins with a very simple but striking observation:

One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit.

There is indeed and much of it is, sadly, to be found on the pages of national newspapers where, today, we find The Daily Telegraph operating firmly in bullshit mode:

Jeremy Hunt is to issue new guidance making it clear to doctors that sex-selective abortion is “unacceptable and illegal”.

Hunt can issue all the guidance he likes, it doesn’t alter the fact that the Abortion Act 1967 is entirely silent on the subject of sex-selective abortion or that such abortions will remain entirely lawful provided that they can be justified… Read more »

Drinkable Sunscreen “Doctor” ran Online “Pill Mill”

A couple of days of ago, the travel sections of the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail – or, as I prefer to think of them, Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber – both ran what were essentially advertorials for the same new product; “Harmonized H20 UV“, which is being marketed by a Colorado-based company, Osmosis Pur Medical Skincare, at £17 per 100ml bottle as a “drinkable sunscreen”. Now I know what you’re thinking because I had exact same thought when I read the story – B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T – and I’m pleased to say that the good folks at the British Dermatological Association had much the same thoughts. So they fired off an email to the creator of this new “wonder” product, “Dr” Ben Johnson… Read more »

What “Porn Culture”? (Part 1)

[This is the first of two articles looking in depth at testimony given to a Pennsylvania District Court by Gail Dines while acting as an "expert" witness for the US Department of Justice and, as you might well imagine, it's a pretty long article so for the sake of convenience, if you'd prefer to read it offline using an e-book reader then you can download it as a PDF. Part one, which is that part, deals with Dines’ attempt to analyse porn-related search engine traffic. Part two, which will be posted in a few days, deals with her analysis of the content of porn tube websites and will include not only an overview of how and why the porn industry… Read more »

Gail Dines: Short on Facts, Crap Figures

*** Warning – Very long post ahead. Get supplies before sitting down to read ***

Last time around I followed the trail of just one dubiously provenanced Internet porn ‘statistic’ from its first appearance in 2003 on a US website owned by tech entrepreneur and content filter salesman, Jerry Ropelato, through its subsequent appearance in everything from academic literature to an official report published by the International Telecommunications Union, all without anyone, it seems, bothering to check the validity of that ‘statistic’ for which there is currently no known original source. I put that last article together to serve as a precursor to this one, which looks in detail at a variety of statistics and other items of ‘factual’ information published on a… Read more »

The Dodgy Porn Statistic That Took Over The World

As a quick trailer, I’m currently working on an article which looks in detail at a ‘fact and figures‘ page published by Gail Dines on her ‘Stop Porn Culture’ website in which, amongst other things, she cites a number of ‘statistics’ sourced from Jerry Ropelato’s ‘Internet Filter Review’ (IFR) website. Now regular visitors to the Ministry will know that I’ve written about Ropelato and his ‘statistics’ before, but before I give Dines the full once over I think it worth recapping what is already known about one of her main sources of statistical information for both her website and, as you’ll see at the end, her 2010 book ‘Pornland’. IFR is part of a site called ‘Top Ten Reviews’ which (amusingly)… Read more »