I should give an update further to this earlier post (see the end if nothing else). Contrary to early signs of failure, I did indeed manage to influence Matt not to pay £2.95 or any other sum to read Pilger, Wilby and Howe in the New Statesman. My main problem was that it had an anti-Jewish feel. My protest was a creative pastiche of the article which provoked it. I staged a lobby – placards, flying pickets outside bathroom and kitchen, chanting, offers of favours, &tc. (Actually I never – I just told Matt in detail what I’d have done if I had been.) The upshot is that Matty now subscribes to Prospect, but my rancour towards the New Statesman endures.
Now I find we’re not alone. Norm posted this by David Herman – in Prospect – on broad divisions of opinion (though now I’ve become a reader of the country’s most popular paper, The Sun, as well as The Observer, The Metro, The London Paper, The New Internationalist, Prospect and London Lite, and I get the impression that these divisions are not in evidence in general so much as in intellectual spheres):
These are deep divisions and are not likely to be healed any time soon. So, to get back to the Statesman, how can a magazine bridge them? Once you are committed to Pilger, Wilby and Howe, you are either politically correct or you are barking. There is no middle way. If a magazine asks you to pay £2.95 to read such journalists, they are not just asking you to make a small financial transaction. They are asking you whether you consider yourself sane or mad, and you will pay up (or not) accordingly. Clearly, there is a solid core of just over 20,000 leftist readers who are happy with this political line. Others, however many brilliant columns you have by Hunter Davies, however glossy the pictures, will not touch the magazine for fear it might be infectious.
The Prospect piece makes a good pass over the history of the NS, and refers to a piece by Wilby in The Guardian about why the NS is on the rocks which talks about the cottage-industrial failings of the owner, anachronistic interests and “an identity problem which reflects an identity problem on the British (and perhaps worldwide) left”. Herman:
Wilby says the problems at the Statesman are a symptom of a larger problem of the British left, but doesn’t really go on to develop the point—and for a very good reason, because his kind of leftism is itself a key part of the problem.
Yes I think so too. Nick Cohen and Becky Hogge were good – I wonder if Prospect could attract them.
Pilger can swivel.