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Saturday, 9 June 2012

Giving up The Guardian

I myself quit the Guardian habit ages ago. "Guardian reader" used to mean a club of which I wanted to be a member, like "Radio Four listener" or "real ale drinker". I still sometimes read The Observer, but I gave up The Guardian as I find large parts of it boring, wannabe-trendy and not for me, although it does still have some very good writers.

My friend Charlotte Henry was still a Guardian reader until yesterday, but then, like a smoker who catches sight of themselves smoking in the mirror and thinks "No more!", she decided to give it up. Charlotte and I are behind this Facebook page, Give up The Guardian:

For me, this is not a ban or a boycott, it is just some Lib Dems and others saying: "No thanks. Include me out. I don't read The Guardian any more, and the club of Guardian readers is no longer for me."

I am, seriously, obviously not criticising anyone who still reads The Guardian and this is (obviously) not an attempt to put the paper out of business; for me, it is about the fact that "Guardian reader" used to be slang for a slightly earnest person of liberal conscience, possibly wearing a tweed jacket, perhaps drinking real ale, and maybe carrying a Penguin edition of George Orwell in the jacket pocket. "Oh," people would once say in response to my views, "You would say that, because you read The Guardian". And I used to be proud to fit that description.

The Guardian taught me to think and gave me a liberal conscience, and that conscience is now offended by The Guardian itself. The paper that used to expose cant and hypocrisy is now a leading platform for the unexpurgated exposition of the very cant and hypocrisy that it used to expose.

You may now accuse me of being anti-Guardian-reader, because the powerful pro-Guardian lobby always throw that accusation at anyone who criticises The Guardian and its leaders, in a bid to silence such critics. I am not anti-Guardian-reader (some of my best friends are guardian readers); I am merely being critical of the state of The Guardian, and its occupation of territory that bores me rigid. If I speculate as to how long The Guardian might last in its current form, I am not contemplating the paper's demise, merely warning the paper to change course for its own sake, as I only have its best interests at heart, of course. (OK, that last paragraph was me trying to be satirical - I'll get me coat).

On her blog at, Charlotte has written very strongly about this - well worth a look.


  1. Matthew, just out of interest, why did you criticise Mrs Angry so vehemently for moderating comments, yet make no mention of it at all when your friend Charlotte Henry does the same thing. Surely this is a double standard. You can't have it both ways

  2. I allow all comments through Rog T (so long as they are not inaccurate/libellous/expletive riddled)!!


  3. Charlotte, I take it that you agree that my comments on your blog are accurate, because you have published them then?

    I have no issue with you moderating your blog, it's up to you. I am just slightly puzzled by the fact Matthew berated Mrs Angry for doing the same thing, but keeps schtum on the fact his friends employ the same rules.

  4. Hi Matt, I signed up to your facebook page and very much agree with your points above. However, I think many of the points you raise are actually problems of the left generally, rather than a particular newspaper. I really enjoyed Nick Cohen's book 'whats left?' which explores the double standards of the modern left.