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Readers’ Letters: Goodbye, Guardian

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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 submissions@offguardian.org.

Dear Guardian

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.

Yours,

Tom Mills


94 Comments

    • I have left the following response on The Guardian web page:-

      What an utterly stupid article. Sotto voce: terrorism, indeed? So is it not the case that a number of those engaged in murdering 130 people in Paris were not illegal migrants?

      Why does the writer assume we should bale out Merkel for her stupidity? She was silly enough to operate a fully open door policy without carrying out proper checks of most of the illegal migrants – and we are expected to pick up these unchecked individuals simply to help her with the very social problems she herself has created? As it is, I believe the Germans are belatedly beginning to apply a policy of forced deportations of non-Syrian individuals after having loudly proclaimed everyone from anywhere was welcome – and after having duped large numbers of German people into supporting such an utterly stupid policy. The after-effects of this stupidity will be with all Europe for a very long time to come.

  1. sheila douglas says

    I too feel incredibly disappointed and disillusioned at the transparently partisan and agenda-driven stance adopted by the Guardian since the election of Jeremy Corbyn. Neither the Blairite faction of the labour party nor many journalists at the Guardian genuinely believe in Democracy (not for the masses), frankly they fear for their privilege. I guess that politicians had rather hope that by the 21st century, the electorate would have lost interest in and forgotten about the utopian notion of informed participatory democracy that Corbyn has inconveniently reminded us all about.
    Out of interest, these two under publicized refutation of vicious smear campaigns printed in inner pages of the guardian:
    “How MPs twisted my words on Paris attacks” – http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/08/how-mps-twisted-my-words-on-paris-attacks?CMP=share_btn_fb
    See also “Stella Creasy crushes story about protest outside her house:
    http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2015/dec/04/stella-creasy-crushes-story-about-protest-outside-her-house?CMP=share_btn_fb

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