The editor-at-large of The Spectator has resigned in protest at the publication of an anti-American article.
March 13, 2002 10:53 AM   Subscribe

The editor-at-large of The Spectator has resigned in protest at the publication of an anti-American article. There has already been some discussion of this here but the British press seems to be tearing itself apart about how much to support the War on Terror, and what viewpoints it's acceptable to express. The offending article will presumably appear here sometime in the next few days, though its content is somewhat predictable given the views of the author. Funny quote: "I want to be in the magazine more often than I seem to be". Maybe the price of freedom is eternal whingeing.
posted by Gaz (11 comments total)
I'd say Britain is quite confused lately. People are warming up to the EU, at last, while acknowledging that the UK has had a long history of supporting, and being supported by, the USA.

However, Europe has changed. Rather than being bold Britain, we're a member of the EU, and we have a lot of obligations and responsibilities to the rest of Europe.

The currently escalating EU-USA trade war (EU trying to tax US on online purchases, US increasing steel taxes.. EU now trying to tax US airlines more than EU ones and so forth) is serving to strike a wedge between these two countries who usually supported each other without so much as a complaint.

Things are different now. You can't expect the 'right' in the UK to support Bush, and you can't expect the 'left' not to, as highlighted in another recent MeFi post. Britain has, seemingly, become much more liberal in recent years, so when the Brits hear stories about Bush condemning other countries as an 'axis of evil' or about pointing nukes at Russia and China.. they're not impressed!

Some people, like the ex-editor of The Spectator, is part of the old-set. US and USA allies forever, and all that.. However, with ever increasing responsibilities within the EU, this probably won't last forever, and the US will have to deal directly with the EU instead. So, a swing away from loving the US is no surprise to this Brit.
posted by wackybrit at 11:04 AM on March 13, 2002

I'd say it's more eternal whining than eternal whingeing. It's worth noting that Anderson was miffed at being replaced by another political columnist. That's as much of a motivation for his walkout as anything contained within the article. I'm also curious as to what "reservations" are being expressed in the piece. It's possible that the article is critical of the Patriot Act or the repeal of the alternative minimum tax, fearing that similar legislative acts will be passed in Britain, should Blair support the "war on terrorism" full quarter.
posted by ed at 11:09 AM on March 13, 2002

Interesting that Bruce Anderson doesn't think that George Galloway should be published in The Spectator, when he himself is a regular columnist in the bloody Independent!
posted by bifter at 12:38 PM on March 13, 2002

This happens on both sides of the 'great divide' The LRB just rejected a book review because it praised Tony Blair:

You wouldn't have been praising Blair; the praise would have come from me. If you feel really strongly that my opinions are shocking or wrong-headed, you could perfectly well publish them with an appropriate editorial disclaimer.

This is getting silly people. I read papers for the diversity of views I like having Bruce Anderson in my Independent a couple of times a week. It makes you think about your own views. I really hope that more of the media doesn't degenerate into a mutully congratulatory circle-jerk like the comment pages of the Guardian.
posted by nedrichards at 4:08 PM on March 13, 2002

I've been a loyal Speccie reader for many years and often enjoyed reading articles written by left-wingers, socialists and marxists. It's never been a blues-only comic.

I'd say that Bruce Anderson will be coming back, as Boris Johnson says. The late Jennifer Paterson(American readers might know her as the brunette in the "Two Fat Ladies")was the Spectator cook and was fired three or four times. That never stopped her coming right back the next day.

If there is a political disagreement behind it, I'd say it has to do with Anderson's staunch Unionist position, which pisses everybody else off.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:07 PM on March 13, 2002

The confusion in the UK media about its stance towards the world at large is indeed becoming ever more apparent, and generally, the traditional party lines ever more blurred. I tend to think this is a good thing - certain people (unlike nedrichards) have traditionally read newspapers and comment magazines that they knew they would broadly agree with - it's why 'Sun readers' or 'Guardian readers' both have very specific connotations. The fact that both groups are increasingly being confronted by content that is outside of their expectations can only be to the good.

That one of the major focuses of this shift should be on the position of the UK in the world is particularly useful: A general questioning of 'the special relationship' can only be beneficial if it raises questions about blindly tagging on to another country's coat tails (any other country), and also if it shifts the coverage of our links with Europe towards a more balanced perspective, rather than the knee-jerky, "Save the pound/Avoid takeover by Europe" coverage which has dominated to date.
posted by jonpollard at 11:34 PM on March 13, 2002

Part of that's because the established party boundaries, with their traditional media affiliations, are totally up for grabs after five years of New Labour. The Tories are deciding whether they can outflank Labour by adopting a more libertarian line, and the Lib Dems are basically European social democrats. (I can see the Mirror tracking the Lib Dems' policies more closely in the next couple of years.) There's also the effect of devolution, which makes Labour in England much more of a Daily Mail party than the Scottish and Welsh outposts.

MiguelCardoso's right about the Spec's affiliations: I see George Monbiot's in the current edition. But "Barmy" Bruce Anderson, though? The booze is talking. That said, you've got to hand it to Boris's ability to generate a story, even though he's probably devoting more time with Petsy Wyatt than his duties at the Spectacularlyboring and the Commons.

What's really scary is that in the current climate, George Galloway is actually starting to sound reasonable. God forbid.
posted by riviera at 12:45 AM on March 14, 2002

George Galloway has sounded "reasonable" for many years. His central point concerning Iraq has always been that Saddam and the establishment have not been hurt as much by sanctions as by the poorest Iraqis. Indeed, Saddam's position may even have been strengthened by sanctions. He is able to say to his people: "Look at what America (and Erope) is making you endure. America truly is the Great Satan. Only I will stand up for you against America". Sanctions have caused the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children. Galloway believe that those who impose sanctions are at least partly guilty of causing those innocent deaths.

I believe that for America to "get it's retaliation in first" on Iraq would be a huge mistake. It would inflame even more anti-American feeling in the whole region - not just Iraq. Al-Quaida couldn't have a better recruitment drive. Eventually, America and it's allies will pay.

Personally, I don't care if 'Brute' wants to pick up his ball and go home. I like to read opposing viewpoints in my newspapers. That's why I read Metafilter. If I can't justify my own opinions in my own head, even if I don't contribute to a debate, then I need to examine why I hold an opinion.
posted by salmacis at 3:00 AM on March 14, 2002

My partner used to travel to college on the same bus as Boris Johnson, who would usually be reading The Guardian on his way into work.
posted by kerplunk at 9:57 AM on March 14, 2002

I went to see George Galloway speak at my college the other day. He doesn't sound reasonable.

But I do respect his opinion and like to hear him say it.
posted by nedrichards at 5:23 PM on March 14, 2002

Ned - here's the Galloway diary in today's Spectator. Looks like a storm in a teacup to me. Amusing, though...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:51 PM on March 14, 2002

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