Littlejohn's 'Silly Season'

The standards expected of a Daily Mail columnist are so low that Richard Littlejohn can freely admit that he is an utterly lazy and repetitive writer – in fact he spends a substantial number of words just pointing this out. I can’t help but find it odd that Littlejohn’s readers don’t get just a little bit offended by his admission that he is basically pretty pleased to just feed them any old crap as long as he is paid. Perhaps this kind of attitude is inevitable when the editor of the Daily Mail is prepared to print anything that ensures the reading figures are high – irrespective of such journalistic trivialities as truth. Indeed, Paul Dacre said as much recently when he gave evidence to a joint parliamentary committee on the Draft Defamation Bill on 18 July:

thinking about some of the things that Mr Littlejohn writes in my paper, I do not know whether they are honest but they certainly get people talking.

So, Paul Dacre doesn’t care about truth as long as what is written sells newspapers (for which getting ‘people talking’ is a beautifully simple and insidious euphemism) and Richard Littlejohn only cares to write stuff that involves as little effort as possible.

Which brings us to his column today: ‘This time next year, Reinaldo, we’ll be billionaires’ [no, no link].

Yes, Littlejohn has wheeled out a favourite target of his: Peter Mandelson. His justification for doing so in any other industry would be an elaborate resignation letter, a confession that he was clearly not capable of performing the role for which he is so handsomely paid:

What was I saying recently about missing Peter Mandelson? His assorted scrapes, scambolis and scandals have provided a rich seam of material over the years.

Many have been the mornings I’ve sat here scratching my head and staring at a blank wordface, only for Mandelson to ride to the rescue.

When Labour was turfed out of office, my jubilation was tinged with just a little sadness over the fact that I wouldn’t have Mandy to kick around any more.

I needn’t have worried. As I tried desperately to avoid having to write about Libya, along came exciting news of Mandelson’s ambitious property portfolio.

Fairly standard stuff, he’s used this before loads of times -‘ where would my column be without repeating made-up stuff about ‘elf n safety” etc – but his next claim just about sums up his interest in anything other than taking the easiest route to his upper 6 – possibly 7 – figure salary:

he’s dug me out of a deep silly season hole today. And for small mercies, we must all be grateful. I should send him a house-warming card.

‘Silly season’? Nothing at all going on in the world apart from Peter Mandelson buying a house? So, he would do anything to avoid talking about Libya and he couldn’t find anything else worth writing about apart from Peter Mandelson buying a house? Even if we accept that the story picked by Littlejohn is the only thing going on in the world apart from Libya, all he does is speculate that Mandelson couldn’t possibly afford the mortgage on the house he has bought and therefore something dodgy must be going on. He could be right, but this is something that requires proper investigative journalism, not a quick 5 minute ramble from someone famously too lazy to use Google to perform even the most basic of fact-checking.

Littlejohn’s column today could have been cut down to: ‘I’m too lazy to write about Libya, but that Peter Mandelson, heh, he’s bought a house and I don’t reckon he can afford it’. And that’s it. That is what nearly 1 million pounds a year can buy you.

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