It’s the end of an era, an epochal moment. My local newsagent is shutting up shop in a couple of week’s time and as a consequence I will no longer be a Guardian reader. This staple of my life is coming to an end, since the alternative ways of obtaining it do not seem practical. My direct debit is cancelled, and a little note to the publishers has signalled this departure. On reflection, I wonder if the timing was somehow right—as readers of this blog will know, I have not always been enamoured with the liberal organ’s take on things, least of all it’s oh so superior denigration of Jeremy Corbyn. Some of their columnists did their best to assist the Tories, perhaps unintentionally (or perhaps not) during Corbyn’s tenure as Labour Party leader. As a result I stopped reading anything by Gaby Hinsliff, Hadley Freeman and prima amongst equals, Jonathan Freedland. But it’s still weird preparing to let go of something that’s been part of one’s life for decades, and it has to be said having one’s letters occasionally published in it was a sop to the ego. On the other hand, the thought of saving £540 a year should not be ignored. Possibly, for a lot less I could subscribe to the Morning Star.
Interestingly, at the same time as this epochal moment two articles in a recent London Review of Books (LRB) inspired a letter in the latest edition about the nature of liberal choices when it comes to challenging the current corrupt capitalist system. What methods should be chosen? Non-violent direct action? Armed struggle? Sabotage? Or maybe getting a letter published in the Guardian or better still agreeing with an article by George Monbiot over your morning coffee? The letter in the LRB made a point about Nelson Mandela, who eventually came to the conclusion that the ANC would be right to adopt what Thatcher would call terrorist tactics. I don’t recall whether back in the sixties the Guardian would have approved of that (a bit before my time). But today, when supporters of BDS, who oppose Israel’s apartheid system rarely get a fair hearing, it’s not hard to imagine that having given so many column inches to Corbyn’s slayers (e.g. Enver Hodga) in which direction the strain (stain) of liberal thought takes us.
Am I now at the stage where I only want to read what reinforces my opinions? It’s hard to say. The Guardian has often been infuriating but there’s no detracting from the fact that it has challenged the establishment—albeit from within the establishment. And that’s its problem.
Perhaps the closure of my newsagent will open up new vistas.
N.B. My discontent with the Guardian has nothing whatever to do with the fact that when I was an MP they never listed my birthday in their birthday column, as they did manage to do for every other MP who was equally as obscure as moi. As if that would make any difference!