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I’ve been a Guardian reader for 40 years, but no longer. Here’s why. 


Today, I received a routine email from the Guardian regarding my ongoing subscription to the paper. I have been a regular reader of the Guardian for 40 years including as a subscriber in recent years. But no longer.

My email explaining why is listed below.

Hi there

Thank you for your recent email.

It has prompted me to contact you regarding my Guardian subscription.

I have bought the Guardian since the age of 12; I am now 52. I have always considered the paper to be fair and on the side of people who are trying to make a difference. The paper’s campaigning work is well known and rightly so. Even though I have not always agreed with the paper’s leaders and editorial line, mostly I have and one of the main reasons I have supported the paper for 40 years has been its left of centre position on the issues of the day.

Lately however, that support has been sorely tested. Your recommendation for people to vote for the Lib Dems at the 2010 general election (which helped to usher in a disastrous coalition government) was bad enough and a big thing for me which made me think long and hard but I stuck with you. However your current coverage of the Labour leadership election has become the last straw for me.

Ever since he was elected, your coverage of Jeremy Corbyn and the very many tens of thousands of people who support him has been the antithesis of the fair journalism and comment you have become known for. The recent leadership campaign coverage and that of the failed coup has displayed a shocking bias and can in no way be construed as fair. This bias, which has been confirmed by a number of academic studies, is not solely confined to the Guardian, but given your history and my previous views of the paper, frankly I expect better from you.

And I say this as a practising journalist myself.

Both in the printed paper and online you have carried a series of articles and news updates that have often relied on tittle tattle and smears from opponents of Jeremy Corbyn. Even when (rarely) reporting the view from the other side, this is usually accompanied by a snide comment or other ‘news’ to discredit the Corbyn campaign. 

I have tried to understand why this might be. I get that the Guardian is probably the most widely read broadsheet paper amongst Labour members and that there will no doubt be a massive PR effort from those who oppose Corbyn to secure coverage for their point of view, but many of your journalists seem to be playing a full and active part in that effort. I’m sure that many of them are probably personally opposed to the Corbyn campaign – the Guardian has been an ‘alma mater’ for many Labour MPs and their advisors in the past – but that is absolutely no excuse for your continuing biased, unbalanced and unfair coverage.
The latest example is your bottom front page lead today on the situation in Angela Eagle’s Merseyside constituency party, which appeared the day after one of the largest political meetings seen in Liverpool in recent years. The article is based on unsubstantiated comments from unnamed Eagle supporters and Corbyn opponents and is clearly an attempt to smear local party members before they meet this week to discuss a situation where their party was closed down undemocratically by Labour’s NEC with no inquiry or evidence being heard.

This is not the ‘journalism’ I expect from the Guardian and I am no longer prepared to put up with it. It is for that reason and with the utmost regret that I have decided to cancel my regular subscription to the paper. I cannot in all conscience continue to support such journalism in the way I do currently and I never thought I would ever say that. I have principles though and if they mean anything then I feel I have to end my 40-year support for the Guardian.

I hope that at some point you manage to rediscover that radical approach, cutting edge and fair mindedness which brought me to your paper in the first place, but until then, I’m afraid it’s goodbye from me.

Please cancel my subscription with immediate effect. I have asked my bank to stop my regular payments to you.

Regards
Andy Walker

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Me and my shadows – Ed names his team

After one of the most eagerly awaited (by the media and politicos) shadow cabinet announcements of recent times, Ed Miliband has named his team to take on the Tory/Lib Dem coalition.

So far the reaction from pundits and some Labour activists has been muted, with mutterings about missed opportunities from not putting Ed Balls into the Treasury or parking Yvette Cooper at the cul-de-sac of the Foreign Office. Having thought about today’s announcement for a while and taken a few soundings, I have to confess that I don’t share the pessimism of those who think that Ed could and should have chosen differently.

Maybe I’m mellowing out in my old age, but I think that It’s not necessarily the best move to go with the obvious choices from day one. Why go with what people (and your enemies) expect?

Lets face it, the Tories in particular but also the Lib Dems are in for a bruising battle after the announcement of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) on 20 October. So, why not put some tried and trusted people in the key positions to take advantage of this. Johnson is generally acknowledged to be a smooth operator but one who is convincing. He should be a good match for Osborne and the Tories wont be able to use the Balls/Cooper angle on the crucial battleground of the economy.

Another useful move by Ed Miliband I think is to use the female ‘bloc’ where necessary against the coalition’s key performers. Yvette Cooper against William Hague and Caroline Flint against Eric Pickles should be very interesting and entertaining to watch. While I would have liked to see new faces in the shadow ‘nations’ posts, Ed has brought back Hain and Woodward because he didn’t have any other experienced alternatives for Wales and Northern Ireland.

Today’s announcements show that Labour’s new leader is more than prepared to show the coalition that they will not be able to have a go and portray him as someone who is a rabid left winger but a serious contender for PM. I think he sees the long game and I reckon he is preparing accordingly.

Phase one is to negotiate the CSR and come up with a credible alternative. Phase two should be to start to set the agenda in preparation for the next election. An election, by the way, which could still happen sooner than people think.

Politics has just got a whole lot more interesting.