The Mail likens Labour to Jimmy Savile but was outraged when same was said of Clarkson

Richard Littlejohn's gutter piece exposes the Mail's hypocrisy


The Daily Mail has today published Richard Littlejohn’s regular column – in which he pretends to be angry about something – as its main comment article with pride of place next to the editorial column.

The piece itself sees Littlejohn employ his usual formula of fake outrage and dig-in-the-ribs, can-you-believe-it, pub bore humour in order to have fun with Labour’s ‘tombstone’ of election pledges. (An excerpt of John Crace’s superior piece on this in the Guardian is published on page 13 of the Mail, despite its distinctly ‘metropolitan elitist’ tone, which we know the Mail hates…)

More interesting than the Littlejohn piece is its headline:

Trust Labour? I’d rather trust Jimmy Savile to babysit 

Littlejohn Labour Savile

This is taken from one line in Littlejohn’s piece, which says:

“Trust Labour with the economy and the NHS? I’d rather have trusted Jimmy Savile to babysit.

I think use of the past tense here actually increases the shock value, as it suggests the discovery that you left your child alone with a serial rapist.

Some might consider it in bad taste to liken your political rivals to the most notorious and hated pederast in modern British history.

Ah, his defenders might say, but Littlejohn was only using the Savile-babysitter idea as a rhetorical example of something you might later regret. This is plausible, since the author presumably did not mean to suggest that the Labour party would force the National Health Service and the economy to have sex with it.

Still, the association of the Labour party and Savile is a gutter-level way of arguing, and stands to the discredit of Littlejohn for writing it and the Mail for running it as a headline.

But perhaps I’m being too solemn. Shouldn’t I just see this as a joke, of the kind an ‘offensive’ comedian might make to win a guilty laugh?

Cut back to March of this year, and the following front page story in the Mail on Sunday:

Mail BBC Clarkson Saville

The comparison by a BBC executive of the Jeremy Clarkson ‘punch-gate’ row with the Savile scandal had the Mail on Sunday virtually apoplectic. It said:

“The BBC launched an astonishing attack on Jeremy Clarkson yesterday, comparing him to sex offender Jimmy Savile and urging him to check into rehab.”

It goes on being astonished and upset for several pages. Columnist Stephen Glover wrote:

“The BBC finally lost the plot when someone described as ‘one of the most senior Corporation executives’ […] outrageously compared him with the sex monster Jimmy Savile. […]

“This comparison of Clarkson with Savile – which, unsurprisingly, has inflamed the petrolhead – is as unhinged as it is malicious. While the BBC is conducting its supposedly even-handed investigation (and why on earth need it take so long?) one of its executives is blackening his name.”

I’m afraid this throws all my earlier caveats to the wind. If the Mail can get in high dudgeon about the Savile comparison and ignore the context of the remark, it can’t protest when it makes the same comparison, in a far more direct and calculated way, about the Labour party, that it was rhetoric or ‘just a joke’.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter


Like this story? Click here to support MediaWatch via our crowd-funding page.


Read more: Times admits ‘Labour’s £1000 tax on families’ story was wrong

Tory press blasts Miliband on Labour spending and the crash. But he’s right

Sign up for our weekly newsletter by clicking here

Like this article? Left Foot Forward relies on support from readers to sustain our progressive journalism. Can you become a supporter for £5 a month?

15 Responses to “The Mail likens Labour to Jimmy Savile but was outraged when same was said of Clarkson”

  1. Foullaini

    Labour is now called the Rotherham party.

  2. Duckman

    Under that vein, I rather trust a murdering psychopath to operate on me than the Tories plan on the NHS

  3. Cole

    Gee, that’s an original smear.

  4. Foullaini

    Not claiming originality, just letting you know how people refer to the party now.

  5. James Chilton

    “…..just letting you know how people refer to the party now.”

    How many people?

  6. Cole

    You wonder why people bother to post comments like Foullaini’s. Just another nasty right winger with nothing better to do.

  7. Leon Wolfeson

    How YOU think of them. Right. Because you’d not even track what was happening, and the important database for preventing this sort of thing was dismantled by the coalition.

  8. Foullaini

    “I think there was a culture of not wanting to rock the multicultural community boat, if I may put it like that.” Denis MacShane Labour MP for 18 years.

  9. Leon Wolfeson

    Disgraced Ex-MP.

    Feel free to be close to him.

  10. Foullaini

    He wasn’t chucked out for looking the other way though was he?

  11. Anthony Allison

    I think you are twisting the story here. The earlier article likens Clarkson to Savile; while he is clearly a knob, he is hardly a twisted creature such as Uncle Jim. The later article does not target any individual, nor does it state that the Labour Party are ‘LIKE’ Savile. It merely uses Savile as an icon of mistrust. In my opinion the headline could be turned on it’s head… “Trust that paedo? I’d rather trust Labour to run the country!”

  12. Leon Wolfeson

    Now you’re making an excuse.

  13. Sun

    Upvoted just because how true and lol.

    As long as they’re white/European. Probably rationalize it off of their privilege and structural racism.

  14. Sun

    Rather be a right winger than a Pakistani pedo enabler.

  15. Sun


    Say…why don’t far left wing trash MOVE to these diverse areas of the world these people come from. That xenophobia must be stopping them!

Leave a Reply