In the first post of a new section, we publish the letter of an (ex-)Guardian reader, detailing the reasons he bid goodbye to his former paper of choice. As yet the Guardian has not printed this letter, nor replied to the writer. If you have had similar experiences, or have written any letters that you have sent, or wish to send, to the Guardian – feel free to submit them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First off, I want to thank you for being the main source of my news for the past 20 plus years. Now 31, I have been an avid reader of the newspaper since I was a wee boy. Admittedly I no longer buy a copy everyday (along with the observer) as I rarely have the time to sit down and read the entire thing, but I still do on average three times a week and the Guardian website is the first website I go to on my laptop and I Phone.
Thank you for breaking the best stories, having the best commentators and generally having an angle I could trust, over this time.
However, the Guardian’s political coverage has sharply deteriorated since the election of Jeremy Corbyn and I will no longer be buying the newspaper or visiting the website. Admittedly it will be very difficult to not visit the website because it’s so ingrained in my behaviour. I’ve been trying the past few weeks to avoid it but keep on finding myself back there! But after this email, I hereby declare that I will never buy a Guardian newspaper or browse the website again.
In recent weeks I’ve read the Guardian’s coverage of Corbyn with disbelief. The drip feed of anti-Corbyn bias has got ridiculous. Remember the story of John McDonnell’s Little Red Book joke? Well that was an ironic joke about Osbourne’s public investment strategy, reliant as it is on the Chinese state, an authoritarian dictatorship. The Guardian’s interpretation? That McDonnell was referencing Mao as one of his heros, backed up with a ridiculous quote from Chuka Umuna to that effect. I’d expect such a tactic from the Daily Mail.
Or take the recent coverage of the Oldham by-election. During the build-up, the Guardian’s frame was that Labour was struggling because of Corbyn. The election was dubbed as a test of Corbyn’s Labour Party. There was recognition that Labour would probably win, but a low victory was predicted (“Labour works around Jeremy Corbyn in Greater Manchester”).
During the build-up, I expected something was amiss. I can say that as a Labour party activist in a northern city (Leicester) Corbyn has made campaigning far easier because we have a positive platform and a clear difference with the Tories. Surely this is something to tap into?
Fast forward to news of Labour’s emphatic victory, where Labour extended its lead by 7.5% to 62.3%, the Guardian’s view is that victory has very little to do with Corbyn and everything to do with Jim McMahon, the local guy who won despite the leadership.
Now, I wouldn’t want to take anything away from McMahon, who is clearly a fantastic local politician. But an extension of Labour’s lead is astounding given everything that has gone on, the turmoil in Labour following the Syria vote and relentless hostility in the national media. Something about Corbyn’s leadership is proving popular at the ballot box, despite the Guardian’s best efforts to set him up for a fall.
Indeed, over these past few months, I have come to understand the nature of the Guardian: it’s certainly not a modern incarnation of the “Poor Man’s Guardian”. That paper, originating in 1831, was part of the radical press which burgeoned following the advent of the printing press. It provided for the news and intellectual needs of working people, having as its motto “knowledge is power”.
Today’s Guardian is “guardian” in a more Orwellian sense: a paper that polices leftwing discourse, that sets limits on what is acceptable for leftwing politics, and what is acceptable is basically Blair without Iraq. Rafael Behr, Polly Toynbee, Jonathan Freedland: all are echoing this anti-Corbyn, essentially Blairite line.
It’s therefore with a sorry heart that I say goodbye. Like those who turned to the radical press in the 19th century, I shall turn to online news sources and social media where established filters do not apply. It is annoying though, as I do enjoy a good broadsheet and a cuppa.