Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Dear Limey Assholes,

The Guardian Newspaper is running a cartoon today of American voters. Damned good of the Guardian to put us all in our rightful places and show us what we're really like so we and the world can see it so clearly. Below a bit of background on this Friend of the People.

The Grauniad (until 1959 The Manchester Guardian) is a British newspaper owned by the Guardian Media Group. It is published Monday to Saturday in the Berliner format from its London and Manchester headquarters.

In August 2004, for the US presidential election, the daily G2 supplement launched an experimental letter-writing campaign in Clark County, Ohio, a small county in a swing state. G2 editor Ian Katz bought a voter list from the county for $25 and asked readers to write to people listed as undecided in the election, giving them an impression of the international view and the importance of making the correct decision. There was something of a backlash to this campaign. The paper scrapped Operation Clark County on 21 October 2004 after first publishing a column of vituperation under the headline 'Dear Limey assholes'.

The Guardian Weekly, which circulates worldwide, provides a compact digest of four newspapers. It contains articles from The Guardian and its Sunday paper, sister paper The Observer, as well as reports, features and book reviews from The Washington Post and articles translated from France's Le Monde.

The Guardian Media Group also runs a multi-award winning website, guardian.co.uk.

Editorial articles in The Guardian are generally in sympathy with the middle-ground liberal to left-wing end of the political spectrum. This is reflected in the paper's readership: a MORI Poll taken between April and June 2000 showed that 80% of Guardian readers were Labour Party voters (cited in International Socialism Spring 2003, ISBN 1-898876-97-5); according to another MORI poll taken in 2004, 44% of Guardian readers vote Labour and 37% vote Liberal Democrat.

The Guardian is considered British centre-left, however, it is frequently described by American conservatives as "left-wing" as US politics are generally to the right of the UK.

In October 2004 The Guardian published a humour column by Charlie Brooker in its entertainment guide, which appeared to call for the assassination of US President George W. Bush. This caused some controversy and the paper was forced to issue an apology and remove the article from its website.

Founded by textile traders and merchants, the Guardian had a reputation as 'an organ of the middle class', or in the words of C.P. Scott's son Ted 'a paper that will remain bourgeois to the last'. "I write for the Guardian," said Sir Max Hastings in 2005, "because it is read by the new establishment", reflecting the paper's growing influence. Three of the Guardian's four leader writers joined the Social Democratic Party on its foundation in 1981, but the paper was enthusiastic in its support for Tony Blair in his bid to lead the Labour Party, and to become Prime Minister.

Following the 7 July 2005 London bombings, The Guardian published an article on its comment pages by Dilpazier Aslam, a 27 year old British Muslim journalism trainee from Yorkshire. Aslam was a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamist group, and had published a number of articles on their website. According to the paper, it did not know that Aslam was a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir when he applied to become a trainee, though several staff members were informed of this once he started at the paper.

The Guardian is part of the GMG Guardian Media Group .... All the aforementioned are owned by The Scott Trust, a charitable foundation which aims to ensure the newspaper's editorial independence in perpetuity, maintaining its financial health to ensure it does not become vulnerable to take over by for-profit media groups, and the serious compromise of editorial independence that this often brings.

The Guardian has been consistently loss-making. The National Newspaper division of GMG, which also includes The Observer, reported operating losses of £49.9m in 2006, up from £18.6m in 2005. The paper is therefore heavily dependent on cross-subsidisation from profitable companies within the group, including Auto Trader and the Manchester Evening News....

According to a December, 2004 survey, 44% of Guardian readers voted in favour of Labour, 37% for the Liberal Democrats and only 5% for the Conservatives, the lowest percentage of any large British newspaper....

Despite its early support for the Zionist movement, in recent decades The Guardian has often been perceived as critical of Israeli government policy. In December 2003 journalist Julie Burchill left the paper for The Times, citing this as one of the reasons for her move. She later accused The Guardian of being anti-semitic. In a recent controversy, the paper has been accused by Harvard lawyer Alan Dershowitz of bias and an unwillingness to correct what he deemed a mis-statement of fact. This allegation was denied by the Guardian's foreign editor, Harriet Sherwood, who says the paper aims to cover all viewpoints in the Israel-Palestine conflict. On 6 June 2007 the paper commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War by giving equal space to the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers to explain their views on the conflict and its legacy.


There are many stereotypes, but perhaps the most prominent is that of the Labour-voting middle-class Guardian reader with centre-left/left-wing politics rooted in the 1960s, working in the public sector or academia, sometimes eating lentils and muesli, living in north London (especially Camden and Islington), wearing sandals, sometimes believing in alternative medicine and natural medicine though more often atheistic or non-religious and rational. It has been shown that the majority of university students in the UK read the Guardian.

This might be illustrated by Labour MP Kevin Hughes's largely rhetorical question in the House of Commons on November 19, 2001: "Does my Right Hon. Friend find it bizarre — as I do — that the yoghurt- and muesli-eating, Guardian-reading fraternity are only too happy to protect the human rights of people engaged in terrorist acts, but never once do they talk about the human rights of those who are affected by them?"

Guardian.... Doesn't that strike a bell? Hmmm.

A snippet:

Why We Form a Society

Imagining their likely origins in the prehistorical past, Plato argued that societies are invariably formed for a particular purpose. Individual human beings are not self-sufficient; no one working alone can acquire all of the genuine necessities of life. In order to resolve this difficulty, we gather together into communities for the mutual achievement of our common goals. This succeeds because we can work more efficiently if each of us specializes in the practice of a specific craft: I make all of the shoes; you grow all of the vegetables; she does all of the carpentry; etc. Thus, Plato held that separation of functions and specialization of labor are the keys to the establishment of a worthwhile society.

The result of this original impulse is a society composed of many individuals, organized into distinct classes (clothiers, farmers, builders, etc.) according to the value of their role in providing some component part of the common good. But the smooth operation of the whole society will require some additional services that become necessary only because of the creation of the social organization itself—the adjudication of disputes among members and the defense of the city against external attacks, for example. Therefore, carrying the principle of specialization one step further, Plato proposed the establishment of an additional class of citizens, the guardians who are responsible for management of the society itself. In fact, Plato held that effective social life requires guardians of two distinct sorts: there must be both soldiers whose function is to defend the state against external enemies and to enforce its laws, and rulers who resolve disagreements among citizens and make decisions about public policy. The guardians collectively, then, are those individuals whose special craft is just the task of governance itself.

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