I HAVE never agreed with the journalistic school of thought that the British National Party should be exposed or derided at every turn. This is not because I believe it should be denied the oxygen of publicity, I simply feel external scrutiny is not required when the party's own members do such an outstanding job of ridiculing their own cause.
The BNP has come under fire for selling White Cliffs of Dover, a compilation album featuring classic wartime songs. Two of the numbers are by Dame Vera Lynn, and the 91-year-old has had to interrupt her retirement to threaten Nick Griffin's party with legal action and denounce any association with its ideology.
Employing every iota of his charm and wit, Simon Darby, a BNP spokesman, countered: "She can complain but it is not going to do her any good."
Such grace towards an upset nonagenarian adds fuel to the fire, but the BNP has also provided ample ammunition for self-ridicule in the rest of the album's songs.
The track listing includes recordings by bandleaders Joe Loss and Bert Ambrose, comedian Bud Flanagan, and composer Irving Berlin, all of whom where Jewish.
The highlight, however, is the inclusion of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, an iconic wartime hit about a virtuoso trumpet player. It was made famous by the Andrews Sisters, but the BNP has favoured a version by Leslie Hutchinson, or as London high society knew him, "Hutch".
As a bisexual black man who enjoyed mixed-race affairs with the upper echelons of British society, Hutch is not the sort one would expect to curry favour with ardent nationalists.
Born in Grenada, he mastered jazz and ragtime piano in New York, where he enjoyed a tempestuous affair with Cole Porter. By the time he arrived in Britain in the late 1920s, stardom beckoned. Resplendent at his white piano, he captivated audiences with his strange new sounds, including several members of the Royal family.
Perhaps his most ardent fan was Lady Mountbatten, with whom it is alleged he enjoyed an on-off affair over three decades. So taken was Edwina with the young musician, she showered him with expensive gifts, including, it is said, a jewelled penis sheath from Cartier.
Even if this information stifles sales of the CD, the BNP's commercial arm, Excalibur, can count upon a wealth of merchandise to boost its coffers. It has taken to selling a comprehensive range of golliwogs "in response to the increased politically correct leftist hysteria", and markets the branded rulers, jewellery, letter-openers, T-shirts and mousemats – not all of which, one suspects, have been manufactured on these shores.
Jingoism – some may prefer harsher words – leaves no room for nuance.
Technophobia gets an odd new twist
APART from the permanent fawning over Apple products, has any company received so much free publicity as Twitter? For weeks now, printing presses have been clogged with the same four-step process that awaits all new online trends:
(i) The technology trade press marvel about its potential
(ii) Days later, broadsheet tech journalists offer similarly effusive praise
(iii) Double-page spreads pop up offering "how to" guides for the uninitiated, with customary side panel on celebrity users of said trend
(iv) Mainstream commentary pieces begin a backlash, with expressions of deliberate bewilderment, and start claiming it is "just a fad".
All this happened to Friends Reunited, Bebo and MySpace. Yesterday, though, a story in one newspaper set a new standard. The headline read: "How using Facebook could raise your risk of cancer."
What if you're drinking a glass of red wine at the time?
• THE worldwide economic rammy has claimed many a scalp, not least the new rich of Russia's hinterlands. Given that the buoyancy of their bank accounts depends on the health of the energy markets, it is no surprise the number of Russian billionaires has fallen by half in just 12 months. The nation's richest man, Mikhail Prokhorov, has even pulled out of a deal to buy the Villa Leopolda, a Belle Epoque mansion on the Cte d'Azur, in the process losing his 37m deposit.
All of us are discovering new lessons and discipline in this time of hardship. A minority, though, will remain forever ignorant to the difference between price and value.