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Sunday, 25 September 2016

Why We Should Wish for The Guardian to Close

With Jeremy Corbyn newly re-installed as Leader of the Labour Party, something about which I have no strong views, I asked myself what could really help the formation of a Progressive alliance, a Popular Front, able to offer some kind of coherent and credible and popular alternative to the Military Government of Mrs May. My first thought was this: It would help if The Guardian folded.

I quite often buy the paper version of The Financial Times (and I have an online subscription too) and I also buy  the paper version of the i, which I think does a good job. I also have Al Jazeera on my Favourites bar. A long time ago, I deleted the BBC News website, sick of the unctuous royalist and religious drivel. A while back I got rid of the Huffington Post which I find juvenile. Next in line for removal from the Favourites bar is The Guardian. Clearly, some kind of struggle is going on there but the dominant faction seems to be the one which wants to turn it into a forum for grievance writing, some of it sharp-elbowed and some of it childish. It's not the stuff you need to build a Popular Front. To build that requires a combination of well-researched news stories and background briefings - like those I get every day in the FT - and well-informed opinion pieces looking at the bigger picture like those written in The Guardian by Owen Jones. Unfortunately, good journalism costs money and maybe The Guardian is now so awful because it relies on what reads like day after day of uninspired Internship formula navel-gazing.

There is also the problem that print is out of favour and Twitter in favour. Twitter is a disaster. We need to get back to newsprint or, at least, back to intelligently structured websites which have serious News and serious Opinion pages.

Oh, and a Popular Front needs no more than seven (plus or minus two) policies which are clear, decisive, which could be implemented by an elected government with a five year term and which voters could see made sense and made a difference.

Why a Popular Front? It's the electoral system. There is no proportional representation. Constituency boundaries are currently skewed in favour of Labour and soon that is going to be changed. Of course, you can influence things without having MPs - UKIP has done that very successfully. But there is no Left equivalent to UKIP. No one need be afraid of losing votes to the Socialist Party of Great Britain which has had no impact, nowhere, ever.

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