Current Affairs Journalism Politics

The Guardian, Champion Of The Identity Class Not The Working Class?

An interesting blog post here on the announcement by Britain’s Guardian newspaper that it is to reduce its staff by 180, blaming the continued restructuring of the media marketplace and the dire economic consequences of the Covid-19 crisis. These criticisms of the publication’s much vaunted left-wing status are not without merit.

…the Guardian is not and never has been a left-wing paper. It has always been a Liberal paper and was founded to reflect the views of Northern Liberals in the 19th century. It had a brief moment in the 1930s when it won praise from left-wingers for its coverage of the Spanish Civil War. Since that time, the editorial line of the paper has intersected with the views of large sections of the British Left. That is no more. About 10 years ago, the paper decided to take a more right-wing line…

…the paper is dominated by white Liberal and right-wing writers like Jonathan Freedland, Marina Hyde, Gaby Hinsliff, Hadley Freeman (who?), Nick Cohen, John Harris, Jessica Elgot, Rafael Behr and Matthew D’Ancona (chair of moderate Tory think-tank, Bright Blue) who were opposed to Corbyn.

Freeman participated in the so-called Never Again stunt organized by supporters of Luciana Berger, but which looked and felt like a gathering of right-wing white politicians and their media supporters who were pursuing a vendetta against, not just Corbyn, but anyone on the left on the basis of flimsy evidence. Worse, perhaps, was the view held by the protesters, who had never protested anything in their lives, and who spent a great deal of effort deriding protests as a form of “student politics”, that the Labour Party was the single largest reservoir of anti-Semitism in Britain. Ironically, all of these people were content to stand side-by-side by some of Parliament’s biggest bigots, like Ian Paisley Jr.

The Guardian has never supported socialism or the Left. It is and always has been a Liberal paper that has had a left-wing readership, which has, over the course of 5 years, been bullied, ridiculed, mocked, smeared and gaslighted. This is a paper that many on the left saw as an ally before Corbyn became Labour leader and which turned on them in short order.

There is little doubt that the Guardian’s obvious antipathy to the leadership of the UK Labour Party during the Jeremy Corbyn era did much to undermine the newspaper’s reputation among the left-leaning commentariat, a reputation already battered by years of Blairite-style editorials and opinion pieces. The publication’s willingness to indulge in an endless stream of hyperbolic complaints and accusations against Corbyn put it in the same camp as the reactionary press in Britain, highlighting its status as an ideological fellow-traveller of the neoliberal centre-ground, proclaiming socially progressive views while advocating economically conservative ones, championing identity politics while disdaining class politics.

12 comments on “The Guardian, Champion Of The Identity Class Not The Working Class?

  1. terence patrick hewett

    Newspapers are now an anachronism. Our host, Spiked, Capx, Guido and the multiplicity of websites which supply comment have supplanted them.

    In the days of hot metal, the press knew one big thing: that people buy newspapers to reinforce their prejudice, not to have their “opinions formed”

    We are now entering the world of the 4th Industrial Revolution: the rules have changed. And the rules remain the same.

    Like

  2. John f cronin

    Can’t you see this is pisstake?

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  3. John cronin

    Well it must be irony surely: or a Trotskyist nuttee

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    • Jams O'Donnell

      What are you talking about? Or are you such a nutter that you really think the Guardian IS left wing?

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  4. Be helpful to know who authored the blog. I couldn’t find a by-line.
    Anyway, the argument essentially boils down to the age-old political contest between principle and pragmatism. Whatever you think of him, it was clear that under Corbyn Labour would never be electable enough to form a government. The guy was toxic (and not terribly bright, either). So it was either stick with him on principle, and remain in the wilderness, or take the pragmatic route and dump him to stand a chance of ever forming a government. What we’re seeing now is Corbyn supporters thrashing around blaming everyone who pointed out to them all along just how toxic he was.

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    • John cronin w

      Precisely. Seriously dumb

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    • Jams O'Donnell

      Absolute rubbish. Most of the policies Corbyn was promoting were extremely popular – nationalisation of various utilities and etc. Corbyn was subjected to a sustained and vicious propaganda campaign by the right wing press, including the Guardian, precisely because his views were catching on. Unfortunately the right wing nut jobs won the day.

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      • John f cronin

        And don’t forget mossad

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      • Ha, ha, popular with you, Jams, no doubt, but extremely unpopular with the British electorate. It should be remembered that the British electorate, much like its Irish counterpart, is essentially conservative in its outlook (and by that I don’t mean in party political terms). In Corbyn’s defence, he wasn’t helped by the cabal of naive but smart-ass nutjobs he surrounded himself with.

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        • I’ve mixed views on Corbyn. On the one hand reintroducing the concept of public ownership more widely was good though in some ways the public was ahead of that (particuarly on rail etc). On the other hand it has to be said, and I’m a former member of the British Labour Party myself, that your characterisation Tamam isn’t too far of the truth of some around him. I wouldn’t use the term nutjobs, but definitely inept as indeed was he to a remarkable degree at times. None of which is to deny his sincerity or hard work, but, to be there on election night and see swathes of red turn blue across the north of England etc was bitter having been here before in the 80s and early 90s.

          On the Guardian, I’ve read it for years but I’ve always been puzzled by the idea it’s terribly leftwing. It was always more a liberal inclined paper and the idea it would be the house paper of the Labour party just doesn’t make sense. In the early 80s it swerved towards the SDP and I’d see it as vaguely left/centrist/ at best. But then again it’s a paper, a partly commercial concern, so why would anyone expect it to support the LP per se.

          There’s a great book, probably difficult to get now, on the efforts in the UK to set up a left wing weekend tabloid – The News on Sunday. The book is called Disaster! It’s not wrong. Given this was during the 1980s and there was the Mirror group, and the Guardian, loosely in the BLP camp, it perhaps demonstrates that there was an understanding of how relatively partial the support from those papers were (though in fairness the Mirror has been pretty solidly BLP across time).

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/News_on_Sunday

          But then thinking about the LP it is important perhaps to keep in mind it’s not a very left-wing party either and never really has been.

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  5. Seems that there are some dueling definitions here. One question is how you define “left” versus “liberal”. It’s clear to me that there are multiple (often vague) definitions floating around. Liberal is generally defined as under the Umbrella of “Left of Center”.

    The whole debate on identity politics vs. class politics: I find that framing leaves a lot out.

    One deal is that you have people flying under very different definitions of “identity politics”. Some will make the label “identity politics” so broad as to include women’s suffrage, any anti-discrimination law of any kind, and even independence for a country like Ireland. Others rely on a definition that only includes adherents to things such as Critical Race Theory, Gay Nationalism, or Gender Critical Radical Feminism and/or those who subscribe to the view that critical thinking and persuasion are an illusion as people’s politics are absolutely determined by their color, gender (whether they mean biological sex or “gender identity” being up for grabs), sexuality, ethnicity, and social class or that all politics are an expression of identity in one way or another. Other define anything that doesn’t fit into their somewhat blinkered idea of “Down and Dirty Class Politics” as “identity politics” by default. For example, I have met people in at least four countries who would label electoral reformism (each country with a different debate on the matter) as “identity politics” simply because it didn’t fit tightly enough into their definition of “class politics”. (Then you get people from all the same countries who will simply call electoral reform “elitist” including most of those in the “all politics are identity politics” school.)

    One problem I have with the class politics vs. identity politics debate is that both of them have a very fixed agenda. If you even take up a cause that is not high ranked on their agenda, they get on your case. You don’t even have to oppose anything they do, just take up some other issue. Even agreeing with them for different reasons invites side-eye.

    I have a problem with movement that leave so little room for critical thinking.

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  6. “It should be remembered that the British electorate, much like its Irish counterpart, is essentially conservative in its outlook (and by that I don’t mean in party political terms).“

    I must say I smiled as I wrote the above, because the same could be said of almost any society, anywhere. A critical mass of people are, first and foremost, primarily concerned with their everyday lives. That is, paying the bills, putting food on the table, and being able to afford little “luxuries” (these being relative to where they are situated, of course). Or at least being able to afford the same little luxuries their neighbours can afford. Politics, as we discuss them here, are far from being high on their everyday agenda of things to think about, much less be concerned about. People want order and predictability in their everyday lives. And, except for in exceptional circumstances, they automatically recoil from upheaval and drastic change. That’s why the major political parties in Western countries are, for all their posturing, largely variations on a theme. It’s why erstwhile revolutionary parties sooner or later end up accommodating themselves to this reality. And finish up, when the rhetoric is stripped away, being hard to tell apart from the others.

    As for whether the Guardian is Left, Right or Centre: this is essentially a circular discussion, as all of those terms are relative. It is too Left for some, not left enough for others. Who gets to set the baseline?
    Finally, even the Left, Right, or Centre terms appear to be becoming increasingly obsolete as cover-all descriptions of political parties. Many of the parties seem to have adopted a pick ‘n’ mix attitude to political, economic, and social issues.

    Liked by 1 person

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