22 November 2017

A Friendly Question or Two to Jonathan Freedland - Does the Guardian have a Death Wish?


A once in a life-time offer – I will replace Owen Jones AND Nick Cohen at half the price!

Dear Jonathan,

Yours and Katherine Viner’s stewardship of the Guardian reminds me of that saying of Euripides, or was it Sophocles?  Those whom the gods seek to destroy they first drive mad.'
At a time when the Labour Party has had a massive influx of members, some 700,000, when the political centre of gravity has shifted to the left as neo-liberal economics have been seen to fail, the Guardian is full to the brim with repetitious, boring columnists, literally the left-overs of the SDP and New Labour – the Kettles and the Toynbees. All singing from the same songsheet.  I except Owen Jones from these strictures since his decision as to which side he’s on depends on what time of the day it is and what he’s had for breakfast.

In order to make these points obvious I compiled 48 sample headlines from the last two years for a sample of the Guardian’s tedious anti-Corbyn articles. Why no self-respecting socialist or Labour supporter should buy the Guardian What is amazing is how all your columnists got the Corbyn phenomenon wrong.  They sang the same melodies as the Daily Mail and Sun.

Perhaps my favourite was Roy Greenslade’s Yes, Jeremy Corbyn has suffered a bad press, but where's the harm?  If Greenslade really doesn’t know what is wrong with the British press and their coverage of Jeremy Corbyn then what is the purpose of Greenslade? He is but one example of the insipid and lightweight nature of your coverage.  Would it be so difficult to get Greg Philo of the Glasgow Media School to write a media column instead?
The best advice to give about Nick Cohen's predictions is that the opposite is almost certain to occur!
Rather than engage with Labour’s half million new members, who wished to jettison the politics of New Labour, you decided to whinge and moan about how terrible Corbyn is. There was no attempt to engage with his politics as the Guardian became the last ditch defender of the status quo. I sometimes wonder if Guardian editors never sit back and reflect?
If the Guardian had any morality, they would refuse to employ a war criminal with the blood of a million on  his hands
Perhaps, when you decided to employ that old war criminal Tony Blair to tell us that Jeremy Corbyn's politics are fantasy – just like Alice in Wonderland you forgot about the million people who lost their lives for a lie in Iraq?  That was certainly no fantasy.

Or perhaps what Peter Mandelson said about being ‘intensely relaxed’ about people becoming filthy rich (as well as poor and homeless) also escaped your attention? It wasn’t just Tory politics that led to Grenfell Tower. The Arms Length Management Organisation that ran this tower block was put in place under New Labour.  I know because we in Defend Council Housing ran a campaign in Brighton which successfully rejected them.
This absurd article by former Labour MP Martin Kettle sums up the wishful thinking of 'the centre ground' - either you are for free market economics or against them - there is no 3rd way.  As for the 'superior grasp' of Theresa May it would like taking candy of a child to comment!
You have however excelled yourself with the contrived antisemitism campaign, a convenient stick with which to beat Corbyn, as I have documented.  You refused to allow any debate within the pages of the Guardian about whether these allegations were true or the product of a monstrous dirty tricks campaign based in the Israeli & US Embassies.  You refused a right of reply to this one-sided Zionist monologue about ‘anti-Semitism in the Labour Party in your so-called Comment is Free columns to all critics. 

You portray yourself as a liberal Zionist but as in South Africa, you are a liberal apologist for Apartheid.  The fact that there are two legal systems in the Territories, one for Jews and another for Palestinians counts for nothing.  Criticism of Zionism is anti-Semitic. The routine use of torture against (Palestinian) children or even the demolition of Arab villages in Israel itself does not disturb your narrative because all criticism is ‘anti-Semitic’.

Your claim of 'antisemtism' rests on the false assertion 'that 93% of British Jews said Israel formed some part of their identity.'  Despite the fact that the most authoritative survey of British Jewry's attitudes to Israel, conducted in 2015 found a fall in the number of Jews identifying as Zionists from 71% in 2010 to 59%.
Principle and consistency have never been Owen Jones strong points - I'm not sure you could even describe him as a fairweather friend
Even if what you said had been true and 93% of British Jews had supported an Apartheid state then that would have nothing to do with anti-Semitism.  If 93% of Africans said that FGM was ok would it be racist to oppose it? Would the imposition of the Burka be fine if 93% of Muslims approved of it? 
If what you said was true and 93% of British Jews support Israeli Apartheid that would be a matter of deep shame.  Opposing an identity is not and cannot be racist or anti-Semitic. Fortunately more and more Jewish people are dissociating themselves from Israel’s ethno-religious state, the kind that the French Revolution overthrew in 1789.

What I find amazing is that the Guardian's insidious attacks on Corbyn have become little more than a circulation death wish.  Given that Nick Cohen has a 100% record of getting everything wrong, whilst telling his readers that they are 'fucking fools'  what is the point of employing him?  I would even be prepared to replace him at half the salary. What have you got to lose except a columnist who writes the same column a hundred different ways?

It wasn’t so long ago that Nick Cohen was informing your readers that:

In an election, they [the Tories] would tear them to pieces. … Will there be 150, 125, 100 Labour MPs by the end of the flaying? My advice is to think of a number then halve it.

I'm also happy to replace Owen Jones thus enabling the Guardian to have its first socialist columnist for a very long time as well as the first anti-Zionist since David Hirst.
I hate to boast about it but almost alone I wrote on 20th April that  Labour Can Win if Corbyn is Bold and 5 days before the election, I posted Is Labour on the threshold of victory?

My replacement of Cohen and Jones could only be a win-win situation for the Guardian.   Who knows?  You might be able to abandon your ludicrous web site charity appeal and instead start gaining some readers before they completely disappear!!

Kind regards

Tony Greenstein

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