Letter to the Guardian 5

I have just sent this letter to the Editor of the Guardian, not for publication:


We have never met, although the Guardian was good enough to give me a column during the general election campaign, and I have written several comment pieces for you since.

I admit there are people in this country, a minority, who still support the Iraq war. Tony Blair did succeed in capturing the Labour movement, and so it is understandable (though to me regrettable) that a newspaper with ties to the broad left would contain a strong element which supports Blair. I have lived with that and never quite broken my 35 year old Guardian reading habit.

But I do think that Simon Tisdall’s unquestioning purveyance of US anti-Iranian propaganda just goes too far. For one thing, you would have completely to shut off your critical faculties to accept some of the scenarios he was fed by the US as plausible. And Tisdall was not retailing the story as “Isn’t it interesting, the US is saying this”, he was relating their wild surmise as plausible fact.

Juan Cole’s blog Informed Comment – which is always superb – has an excellent comment on the piece, which I think well sums up the baffled bemusement of the intelligentsia.

I was rather hoping Tisdall was giving us another San Serife, but the date was wrong.

Get a grip! You are supposed to be an Editor. I was, genuinely, a great fan of your writing as a reporter. Of course, some brilliant footballers make lousy managers.

Craig Murray

I’ll post a reply if I get one.

I have now received a response, not from Alan Rusbridger

Dear Mr Murray, Thank you for your email to the editor, which he has been forwarded to me. The article to which you refer was published after careful consideration, and should be viewed in the light of Simon Tisdall’s extensive and well-sourced reporting from and about the region, as well as the record of the paper, which certainly cannot be accused of acting as a mouthpiece for the US administration. For the record Simon requested the interviews with US officials in Baghdad and not the other way around.

Simon has travelled to Iran three times in the past 12 months and the Guardian maintains a correspondent there. We regularly report Iran’s official view on these issues. Tuesday’s story is just one more part of a jigsaw of the growing power struggle in the region and our editors thought it in the public interest to publish the story. The second part of Simon’s report was on the front page yesterday (http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,2085981,00.html)

Coincidentally, my colleague Murray Armstrong reported Tuesday’s morning’s editorial conference discussion on the story at http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/murray_armstrong/2007/05/iran_iraq_and_sources_of_infor.html

Conference returned to the subject this morning and a paraphrase of that discussion is here http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/murray_armstrong/2007/05/complaints_about_iran_coverage.html

There are also two very active blogs, echoing your sentiments on the Comment is free website, here http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/dd_guttenplan/2007/05/dont_get_fooled_again.html and here http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/dilip_hiro/2007/05/briefing_encounter.html

Siobhain Butterworth, the readers’ editor, is away this week but we will convey your concerns to her and she may wish to investigate the issue further.

Best wishes,

Elisabeth Ribbans

Associate editor

The Guardian

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5 thoughts on “Letter to the Guardian

  • Chuck Unsworth

    Well, don't expect too much in the way of sense. This is the Guardian, after all. Frankly the quality of writing, accuracy of research and so on has taken a nosedive recently.

    And today the execrable Michael White launches into yet more garbage on Comment is Free. No, nowadays the Guardian may be safely regarded as nothing but a jobcentre comic and its 'editorial' staff as junior hacks.

  • NoJags Neil

    Sorry, but the Grauniad has been blairite – and therefore not very left wing at all – for ages now. I'm surprised you only just noticed.

  • Craig

    No, I had noticed many years ago. But there has been an internal struggle between Blairites and non-Blairites, and the Blairites have only just really managed to eliminate the internal opposition.

  • Randal


    You have my sympathy. I can understand that it is painful to see a cherished political institution finally fall into open corruption. As a man very much of the political right, I've never personally had much time for the Guardian except when it accidentally finds itself on the correct side of an issue – such as resisting US aggression in Iraq. However, it is a shame to see it openly swinging into line behind the fear and war propaganda campaign.

    I have no illusions, though, concerning the hypocrisy of Guardian staff in general (though not all of them, certainly). The Guardian's stance on US military aggression will be even more equivocal once the bombings are being carried out by a Democrat regime again.

    What will be interesting, if the "Blairite" consolidation of control to which you refer continues, will be to see what happens when and if the Conservatives take over government following the next election. When the new Conservative regime takes over the mantle of militarism, will the Guardian follow the full-blown US neoconservative path of actually switching sides to continue the bombing, or will they follow the tried and trusted mainstream authoritarian leftist approach of supporting authoritarianism and militarism when it's done by the left but opposing it when it's done by the right?

  • keithover

    Whilst I agree that recently the Guardian has recently printed some "weird" articles,such as the Iran story I think we need to get into perspective that this is the only daily paper with any sign of "liberal" views.The Independant is a bit of a joke with its banner front pages.So what are we left with ?

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