Peterloo Latest Update 06/11/2011

We have had the definitive answer back from Alan Rusbridger – here it is in full:

Thank you for both your correspondence and for your patience in waiting for a response to your concerns about the Guardian’s stance regarding the Liberal Democrats.  As I said in an open thread just before the 2010 election, the Guardian is the only national newspaper with no proprietor and is free from any party political allegiance.  At the moment of an election we will nail our colours to the mast for what we think, based on the Guardian’s values, offers the best hope to the country (and since 1945, we’ve come out for all three main parties) but thereafter it’s our role to scrutinize those with power and influence and to offer the best analysis we can of their plans and actions.

The paper’s stance on any issue is found openly in the leaders’ columns and beyond that page columnists write as they think; there is no “line” our journalists have to take and we are proud to welcome a greater range of contributor opinion than, I believe, any other newspaper.  Just as importantly we offer no shortage of ways for people to challenge what they find in our pages in print and online.  Readers have the opportunity to share their views on each and every leader, as well as columns on Comment is free, which over the past five years has become a vibrant hub for debate and dissent.  As you know, Polly Toynbee addressed the issue of the Guardian’s support for the Liberal Democrats only a month or so ago (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/sep/16/labour-lib-dems-future-pact?INTCMP=SRCH) and more than 700 people responded.

I note what your group is saying about what it perceives to be a “continuing backing of the Liberal Democrats”.  It’s subjective of course but I’ve done a quick review of all the leader articles published since the one to which you refer in May 2011, and of the 11 that significantly concern the Liberal Democrats, none — even where they give due credit  — could be described as offering unalloyed approval.  They variously strike notes of concern, discomfort, an urging to do better, or direct criticism.  One is perhaps neutral.

I hope this helps explain the position as I see it.  Your continuing thoughts on this are always welcome whether in debate on Cif and elsewhere on guardian.co.uk or directly to me.  We’d prefer, however, not to launch an open thread at the moment, simply because there are many important issues readers want to discuss with us and we’re currently exploring a new “open” initiative for making this happen.

Kind regards

Alan Rusbridger

It’s a rather circuitous reply but in short, they’re happy with the editorial policy as it is.

At the outset of the campaign we made a conscious decision to give the Guardian a chance. Our strategy was to follow 2 distinct courses simultaneously, one following through conventional channels presenting the misgivings of political and financial churnalism, the other being activism through social media.

With the above answer it means the strand following conventional channels has now reached its termination. It also means the campaign will be broadening it’s focus – no longer concentrating solely on the Guardian – but on the Uk media itself.

The change in scale means the Peterloo campaign will be run from it’s own blog here:

http://otmpeterloo.wordpress.com

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