Richard Littlejohn is the patron saint of all good citizens and taxpayers who are against absolutely anybody trying to tell them what to do. Such is his libertarian position: "If I choose to eat four rashers of bacon and three eggs for breakfast, that's my heart attack." Looking back at the health and safety regulations of the past few years, he practically has steam coming out of his ears as he relates how playground games such as conkers and hopscotch have been outlawed. Dance floors are now carpeted for fear pensioners will slip, bell ringers have to wear earmuffs and if old ladies want to buy knitting needles they have to show proof-of-age. Nobody can purchase furniture polish without first satisfying supermarket managers they are not solvent abusers.
According to Littlejohn, we now live in "a bully state that wants to infantilise and criminalise us all". You can do two years inside for selling beef on the bone, and for canoeing without a permit you'll be fingerprinted and spend a night in the cells. Yet the police have no time to combat actual street violence or child molestation in care homes because they are preoccupied tearing down Union Jack flags (the association of the red cross with the Crusades is deemed "offensive to Muslims"), giving counselling to gay and lesbian alcoholics, and attending conferences on transgender policy. As Littlejohn says (it's his catchphrase): "You couldn't make it up."
Nor does he. The cops were nowhere to be seen when a bride at her own wedding in Swansea bared her breasts at the doorman and hit him on the head with her shoe. Perhaps they were busy being part of the Victim Support Team who banged on a woman's door in Ledbury, bringing succour after her birdbath had gone missing. Littlejohn has fun describing the saga of someone from Birmingham City Council, who tried to close down Zippo's Circus when the clown failed to purchase a Musical Performance Licence for his exploding tuba.
Littlejohn loves having a go at councils. Throughout this book, he looks back nostalgically to an era when the streets were clean, the roads in good repair, the schools weren't bad and the dustbins got emptied regularly. Whereas now, town clerks with a sense of proud civic duty have been replaced by highly paid bureaucrats, capable only of sitting on twinning committees, carbon footprint committees and nuclear-free zone committees.
Councils and quangos "devour our taxes" by creating meaningless jobs. What does Barnet's Head of Internal Audit and Ethical Governance possibly achieve? Though our crumbling inner cities resemble the Third World, there is nevertheless plenty of cash for Lambeth Council to spend on reflexology consultants for muggers and murderers. Tower Hamlets now employs 80 climate change coordinators. Global warming is a con anyway, according to Littlejohn. It is caused by the "creosote-thick hairspray" used by Pauline Prescott and exacerbated by Two Jags' need to jet first class around the planet to boss people about on the need to cut carbon emissions.
Littlejohn puts the blame for our decline and fall squarely on New Labour, who have consistently poured scorn on old-fashioned suburban family values and who hate Britain and its countryside so much, the "ludicrous overreactions to the foot and mouth crisis", with the wholesale execution of livestock, was a way of bringing forward "plans to convert the nation to a vegetarian diet".
Occasionally, Littlejohn's rhetoric gets the better of him. Gordon Brown, he says, is "a toxic confection of narcissism, naked ambition, spite, bullying, bombast and bubbling resentment". Peter Mandelson is "an odious, discreditable creep. Why does anyone indulge him? No sane person would keep him as a pet." Brown and Lord Mandelson would no doubt say exactly the same of Littlejohn, word for word.
But we can all agree that these past 13 years have indeed seen more damage done to the warp and woof of our nation than was inflicted during two world wars. Individuality and privacy have been painstakingly eradicated in favour of totalitarian priorities like the community and the consensus. Orwellian CCTV cameras follow us everywhere. History and tradition have been abolished and replaced with a belief in the future, which is nebulous and literally does not exist. Universities, the repositories of higher culture, are being decimated and turned into training colleges for idiots. And so on and so forth.
If you prize free expression, this book is essential reading. I was unable to find fault with a single sentiment.
Copyright © 2011 Richard Littlejohn. All rights reserved.