Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Guardian/Observer split

As any fule kno, the Decents hate the pro-jihadi moral-relativist Guardian but think better of its sister paper, the Observer. Richard Brooks has an interesting piece in the Sunday Times examining why the Observer took a pro-Iraq-war stance and the Guardian didn't, and suggests connections both to an earlier feud over Wakefield/MMR and to the hand of Alistair Campbell. Full details will appear, apparently, in a book by Rusbridger-sidekick Nick Davies.

More here and here.

44 Comments:

Anonymous dd said...

ooooh what fun. I think any account of the Observer on Iraq though has to take into account the fact that Saddam judicially murdered Farzad Barzoft, an Observer journalist. I think a lot of the connections to the Kanan Makiya/Ahmed Chalabi Iraqi opposition-in-exile date back to that time.

10/21/2007 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

Good point.

10/21/2007 12:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Cian said...

He's a bit more than Rusbridger's sidekick. Unlike most of the fools employed by the Observer, he actually does real investigative journalism. Whereas the Observer does scare stories mostly.

10/21/2007 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger pj said...

The MMR story was this July a long time after the Iraq war. I doubt it has much to do with the Guardian-Observer spat since it was inevitable that Goldacre would take on the story because it was spectacularly misleading (as evidenced by him writing a similar article for the BMJ, and he had already blogged about it), yet he still had some trouble getting his article approved for publication.

It may have pissed off the Observer, but it doesn't seem like it was part of a Guardian plan to wind them up either.

10/22/2007 09:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Fallhammer said...

And BLAM! Alton exits left!

Presumably soon to occupy the editor's chair of some other right-wing rag?

10/25/2007 03:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The interesting thing for Aaro watchers will be how Nick and Aaro fit into this story. Nick and Aaro came along in early 2003, just as Blair and Campbell were getting into difficulty with the WMD story about Iraq. Nick and Aaro came along just at the right time with their line that the Left ought to be ignoring all the dubious things Blair was saying and should be supporting an invasion of Iraq whether or not there were WMD.

Now we know that Campbell had close links with the Observer and was able to stovepipe propaganda from the Coalition Information Centre right into the Observer. So did Campbell summon Nick and Aaro (a la Oona) and tell them what to write? Did he buy them lunch? Or did Nick and Aaro manage to think it out all on their own?

10/25/2007 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

The Coalition Information Centre; does anyone know if that thing's still running?

10/25/2007 12:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Coalition Information Centre was abolished. I think that it just became too embarrassing. One of its key members of staff was shunted off to the Middle East just before one of the Enquiries so that he wouldn't be around to be asked any questions.

10/25/2007 06:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's interesting how this story has got leaked in advance, but with the spin that it is part of an incomprehensible left-wing split between the Guardian and the Observer. The story of how the Observer got turned into a propaganda sheet risks being missed. (Readers of some newspapers may indeed be surprised that there are still a few that are not propaganda sheets.)

10/26/2007 10:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's something worth reading.

http://tomdispatch.com/post/174852/chalmers_johnson_12_books_in_search_of_a_policy

It's an article by Chalmers Johnson reviewing a book by Stephen Holmes, which in turn is based a dozen books about the invasion of Iraq (and associated topics). Of interest to Decentologists (and hopefully even the Decents themselves) are the bits about humanitarian interventionism, Paul Berman, pro-war liberals, islamo-fascism and democratisation at the point of an assault rifle.

10/26/2007 02:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I notice that somebody is trying to put up a Wikipedia page on the decents, but is having difficulty getting his contribution accepted by the moderators.

Anyone have a login and spare time to waste?

10/27/2007 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

Data point: Aaro in the Times, suggesting Norman Baker MP should slash his own ulnar artery and guzzle coproxamol and see if he dies. One could almost mistake that for a threat, if it didn't come from fatcamp boy.

But Baker has certainly hit a nerve with the 'Vitch; a hit, a palpable hit..

10/29/2007 10:52:00 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

Aaro in the Times is quite fabulous (linked approvingly by Kamm too). I particularly like the suggestion that Tam Dalyell should apologise, with tears in his eyes, for ever suggesting that the Thames Valley Police might have been corrupt, politically slanted or shockingly bad at investigating serious allegations.

10/29/2007 03:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had exactly the same reaction to Aaro's demand that Tam apologise to the Thames Valley Police. Oddly enough I am still waiting for the apology from my MP (and the PM and the Foreign Secretary) for having told me in writing that it was an established fact that Iraq had WMD, and for having followed a course of action that turned Iraq into a failed state.

10/29/2007 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Ah, Aaro refers to Thames Valley Plod with regard to Baker, I think.

Baker is fantasising, I'm afraid, but it's a bit fucking cheeky of Aaro to raise Iraqi WMDs in his article given You Know What.

Isn't this more House of John Lloyd thinking, whereby our political establishment are always being assailed by unfair and loony allegations from the political left and the blogs? (And not, perhaps, cynics and bigots and hysterics among the popular and rightwing press and its owners?)

Incidentally, had the cops not taken twenty-odd years to establish who killed Hilda Murrell, is it at all possible that other people wouldn't have spent twenty-odd years wondering who did? They were certainly no less more gullible, and perhaps slower to rush to judgement, than a Times columnist of this blog's acquaintance.

10/29/2007 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Why do say Baker is fantasising? Is his case nonsensical - I've not really been following it.

10/30/2007 08:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has there been any Decent comment anywhere about the Saudi royal visit?

10/30/2007 09:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes there has.

They are not in favour, you numptie.

Still, if the decents decided the UK should talk with Iran (as the Lib Dems have suggested), the brainless farts on this site would start arguing that the Iran was a repressive regime and that this showed up the decents as hypocrites. That's after they have spent ages slagging off Gene at Harry's Place for posting about human rights abuses in Iran.

Have you ever thought that your childish obsession with decents a wee bit maniacal and stupid? Perhaps you should engage with real arguments, rather than acting like 4 year-olds who have lost their dummy?

10/30/2007 05:49:00 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Kim Howells, who starred in 'Euston: The Movie' last year, complaining about "we are Hezbollah" banners, has called for an alliance with Saudi based on "shared values".

No double standards there, then.

10/30/2007 07:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps a few links would be in order, to help me find some literature by the Decents about Saudi Arabia and this week's state visit.

10/30/2007 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Still, if the decents decided the UK should talk with Iran (as the Lib Dems have suggested), the brainless farts on this site would start arguing that the Iran was a repressive regime and that this showed up the decents as hypocrites. That's after they have spent ages slagging off Gene at Harry's Place for posting about human rights abuses in Iran.....Perhaps you should engage with real arguments

Of which two obvious points can be made:

a) the first part of this passage involves attributing an entirely notional argument to people here whereas the second suggests that we should engage with "real arguments" ;

b) real arguments come from real people and not anonymous commenters.

Next!

10/30/2007 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger a said...

Hi! I've never been here before, and I'm not British. I have some basic knowledge on the newspapers, and I know what the Euston Manifesto is, but who are the "Decents"? I haven't heard of them.

10/30/2007 10:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is it about this conversation that reminds me of Down the Line?

RK

10/31/2007 10:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Who are the Decents?" That's what the inhabitants of this blog are trying to find out. We work diligently to unravel the coded messages of the soi-disant "Decent Left".

10/31/2007 05:41:00 PM  
Blogger a said...

Ah, I think you are describing the problem that I've heard called "Sensible Liberals" in the U.S.
(The American left is broadly called "liberal" because "socialist" is a dirty word here; the "sensible" ones may be something else entirely.)
Does this cartoon seem to describe Decents? Are they Euston Manifesto signatories? Do they tend to support "humanitarian interventions"?

10/31/2007 10:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, not quite. "Careful consideration of the issues" is not a phrase that leaps to mind when reading, for example, Nick Cohen's book.

10/31/2007 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger a said...

Okay, Nick Cohen is one, Decent if not Sensible. How about... Hitchens? Ignatieff? Any other names I may know?

10/31/2007 11:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

""Who are the Decents?" That's what the inhabitants of this blog are trying to find out."

I can suggest a rough answer.

Decents are heretical leftists who have betrayed left-wing principles to such an extent, that they believe that things like dictatorship, genocide, religious fundamentalism, anti-Semitism and female genital mutilation are bad and should be opposed.

By contrast, Indecent leftists would respond that the aforementioned phenomena are a) not as bad as they're made out to be by the Western mainstream media, and maybe don't exist at all; b) are all the fault of Western imperialism in the first place; and c) are really a diversion from the one thing that really matters, which is opposing Western imperialism - i.e. the US, Britain and the Iraq War.

I hope I've put this as fairly as possible.

10/31/2007 11:52:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

I think I can improve on MAH's definition.

"Decent" leftists are people who obsess endlessly on blogs and in op-ed columns about the rest of "the left" being along the lines depicted in MAH's "By contrast ..." paragraph.

11/01/2007 08:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See the wonderful http://decentpedia.blogspot.com/.

11/01/2007 08:25:00 AM  
Anonymous fallhammer said...

Not to mention, ironically, the reflexive tendencies to

a) accuse anyone who questions the motivations and conduct of "The War Against Terror" and "Operation Iraqi Liberation" of being in favour of dictatorship, genocide, religious fundamentalism, anti-Semitism and female genital mutilation, and

b) not at all by contrast, to grossly distort and misrepresent the arguments of the indecent left when same point to the complex political, social and historical reasons for the disastrous failures of TWAT and OIL).

Yes, Hitchens and Ignatieff.

11/01/2007 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger Ray said...

Decents are people who believe George Bush when he says he wants to spread democracy by dropping bombs, and accuse anyone who doubts the wisdom and sincerity of this plan of being a supporter of dictators.

11/01/2007 08:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Without Irony, in Nick Cohen's current Evening Standard piece

"IF YOU live long enough you see every poacher become a gamekeeper.

I'm just old enough to remember when The Who were the most rebellious band in rock. Now Roger Daltrey has a country estate in East Sussex. I remember Billy Connolly being the most iconoclastic comedian my generation had seen. Now he's laird of Candacraig House in Aberdeenshire. Noel Gallagher has the old manor at Chalfont St Giles, while Sting doesn't have one manor but two.

So it was no surprise to learn that Pete Doherty has moved from the hedonistic culture of London to Marlborough in Wiltshire. Like his predecessors, the rebel will soon be a gamekeeper or indeed be ready to hire locals to keep his game for him."

11/01/2007 09:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

""Decent" leftists are people who obsess endlessly on blogs and in op-ed columns about the rest of "the left" being along the lines depicted in MAH's "By contrast ..." paragraph."

One can take this further: "Indecent" leftists are people who obsess endlessly on blogs about "Decent" leftists obsessing endlessly on blogs about the rest of the left being etc. etc.

In fact, some blogs are set up specially for this purpose.

11/01/2007 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

In fact, some blogs are set up specially for this purpose.

Indeed they are. But we aren't very obsessive are we? There haven't been any posts here for 10 days, during which time HP Sauce and DSTFW have been banging on ad nauseam.

11/01/2007 12:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

Still, it does seem a bit like the pot calling the kettle black.

And, you must admit, something like the break up of Respect doesn't happen every day...

11/01/2007 12:37:00 PM  
Anonymous bruschettaboy said...

Thanks Marko.

Decents are heretical leftists who have betrayed left-wing principles to such an extent, that they believe that things like dictatorship, genocide, religious fundamentalism, anti-Semitism and female genital mutilation are bad and should be opposed.

By contrast, Indecent leftists would respond that the aforementioned phenomena are a) not as bad as they're made out to be by the Western mainstream media, and maybe don't exist at all; b) are all the fault of Western imperialism in the first place; and c) are really a diversion from the one thing that really matters, which is opposing Western imperialism - i.e. the US, Britain and the Iraq War.

I would indeed say that it is more or less constitutive of Decency to a) disregard the distinction between "opposing" something and having a practical plan to do something about it and b) to accuse people who disagree with you of being apologists for genocide. So yes, I agree with you that the combination of wishful thinking, arrogance, intellectual dishonesty and self-righteousness which your comment displays is exactly what it means to be Decent.

I seem to remember arguing a couple of months ago that Michael Béreubé couldn't be called part of the "Decent Left" because he believed in the principle "no need to be a cunt about it" which was inconsistent with Decency. Thanks for backing me up.

I'm actually considering a "Hoisted from Comments" post on Marko's comment, because we are regularly accused of creating strawmen and told that no actual Decents act like that. But I suppose it might be a practical joker using the "Marko Attila Hoare" name so I won't, unless Marko would care to email aaronovitchwatch@gmail.com with confirmation.

11/01/2007 12:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could we add "making things up" to the indicators of decency. Harrys Place have indeed been posting a lot about the break up of Respect. They have mostly lifted their "revelations" from other blogs (Socialist Unity, Liam Mac etc). However, they have added their own news. firstly that the Stop the War conference was cancelled, secondly that one notable SWPer, a John G , had resigned in disgust at his own party's behavior. Unfortunately, while the left wing blogosphere had actual news about Respect, Harry's Place two stories were just made up. They have some form on this (look, an anti semitic CND -er , oh no he isn't. Look, Iran making jews wear yellow stars....not)

11/01/2007 01:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

"I seem to remember arguing a couple of months ago that Michael Béreubé couldn't be called part of the "Decent Left" because he believed in the principle "no need to be a cunt about it" which was inconsistent with Decency."

He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.

11/01/2007 02:54:00 PM  
Anonymous decent interval said...

"He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone".
Surely I don't have to be without sin to assault you - couldn't I just argue that my sins were of a different moral order to yours, that my sins were the result of well-intentioned heavy handedness and lack of foresight in contrast to yours which were the result of your evil nature, or simply that I as a democrat and a proponent of Enlightenment values am entitled to stone you as and when I please.

11/01/2007 03:53:00 PM  
Blogger Malky Muscular said...

As the official scribe of Muscular Liberalism, I feel I can assist in nailing down the meaning of this particular term.

Decent - person committed to taking the fight to fascists by writing newspaper articles and blog posts advocating war.

An embattled minority sect in British democracy, advocating policies that are only backed by the governments of the UK and USA, the Decent is committed to speaking truth to power i.e. the SWP, guardian columnists etc.

The muscular liberal adheres to Orwell's belief in clear speech, refusing to obscure unpalatable truths behind vacuous euphemisms.

He or she is committed to principled debate, disdaining dishonest tactics such as ad hominem attacks, the construction of straw men or mendacious accusations of racism.

Above all, the Decent individual refuses to engage in the crime of moral equivalence. Decency, if it means anything, is the right to hold every person, organisation or nation to precisely the same standard, allowing no moving of goalposts or special pleading.

Decency, in short, is the very zenith of intellectual probity in the modern era.


I've been holding off on publishing this entry, and may wait until after I have read BB's disgusting Stopper distortions before I do.

11/01/2007 05:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that our American friend "a" must be very confused by now.

11/01/2007 11:43:00 PM  
Anonymous ichomobothogogus said...

how about "decents are cretinous delusional fucktards who wander round accusing everyone they dislike, on no evidence whatsoever, of being in favour of genocide, mass murder and the sexualised torture of little girls, then act genuinely surprised when someone calls them a cunt because of it"

11/02/2007 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger a said...

No, DecentPedia and especially Marko Attila Hoare's comments cleared it up for me. In case you're interested, the comparable American term is "liberal hawk".

11/03/2007 03:59:00 PM  

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