The Guardian losing Liberal readers


Many Liberals have abandoned The Guardian in recent years mainly because of its increasing Labour bias. Part of this is the party’s own fault by not being sufficiently intellectually rigorous but that is, of course, self-fulfilling – a lack of media coverage leads to a more enfeebled Liberal politics.

My aim in pressuring the current editor, Katharine Viner, is to make the paper more pluralistic, not least because it would a shame to abandon the only national paper that does not have a proprietor, and one which I have read just about every day since 19 October 1960 – the day after the News Chronicle died.

The paper gives us a weekly dose of socialism from Owen Jones, regular pro-Labour columns from Polly Toynbee and even the saintly and ever recyclable George Monbiot cites his support for Labour. But there are no contributions from recognisable Liberals. In the face of this why should Liberals buy the paper? I certainly do not object to these columns, indeed, I am committed to pluralism, but I want to see a more balanced coverage from a newspaper that boasts about its place on the progressive wing of politics.

I have quoted to the editor a particular instance of anti-Liberal bias. The Guardian has published explicitly anti-Liberal Democrat columns by Rhiannon Lucy Coslett. Her article on 18 November last was based on the Liberal Democrats’ abandonment of their anti-tuition fees stance. There was no acknowledgement whatsoever that the alternative tuition fee policy introduced by the Liberal Democrats in the coalition government meant that no student had to pay a penny and that, after graduation, no repayment was required until a set income level had been reached, currently £500 per week, and then only a relatively small proportion of the excess above that figure. Finally, any outstanding sum is written off after thirty years.

What is worse, Rhiannon Lucy Coslett blamed the coalition for her student debt whereas, as I showed in an unpublished letter, it was, in fact, incurred under the previous Labour government. Such deviousness in pursuit of a pro-Labour position is not worthy of the Guardian, but it is, alas, apparently now par for the course. I wrote pointing all this out but the letter was not published.

Any LDV reader who supports my campaign might well write to [email protected].

* Michael Meadowcroft has been campaigning for Liberalism for sixty-two years! He has served in just about every capacity in the party and in elected offices, including MP for Leeds West, 1983-87. He then spent twenty years working in new and emerging democracies across the world

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59 Comments

  • trevor stables 1st Oct '20 - 10:32am

    Me too. utterly fed up with The Guardian that fails to cover us. Take today for instance. No coverage of The Commons debate and division led yesterday by Liberal democrats y when we opposed the anti disabled provisions in the BIll. We were supported by 6 Labour and 7 Tories.
    Not a mention.
    It is the same every day, no mention and at best cursory or negative.
    Such a deservice to our 3.7 million voters.

  • Barry Lofty 1st Oct '20 - 10:33am

    I gave up the Guardian many years ago and have read the “I” newspaper for a number of years and found it gives a very balanced viewpoint and it also has an excellent young editor, Oliver Duff, who is willing to criticise politicians from all parties when needed. I know they are now in the same stable as the dreaded Mail but they have vowed to keep their independence, so far so good only time will tell.

  • Colin Paine 1st Oct '20 - 10:42am

    Switched to the I earlier this year, refreshing to get views from across the political spectrum and always gives us a fair shout.

  • Innocent Bystander 1st Oct '20 - 11:17am

    Question
    “Should the Guardian show more sympathy to the LibDems?”
    Answer
    “It doesn’t matter a light. It’s a very fringe newspaper with a tiny circulation. Even the Financial Times sells more.”

    However, this obsession with the author’s favourite newspaper reveals the LibDem problem. There’s a big wide world beyond the Guardian devotees and no wonder it polls at 5%.

  • Peter Watson 1st Oct '20 - 11:56am

    I was a little confused at first as the article seems to conflate “Liberals” and the “Liberal Democrats”? Is the author suggesting that Jones, Toynbee, Monbiot, etc. are illiberal or just that they are not supporters of this party? Certainly, last year Toynbee (and others) seemed to side with the Lib Dems against Corbyn’s version of Labour.

    Also, I’m not sure that an attack on the Guardian for ignoring the Lib Dems should begin by reminding people about tuition fees, especially while appearing to take such pride in defending them!

  • As a long term Grauniad reader, I share some of Michael Meadowcroft’s frustrations. I also feel in particular, with the Observer, that Andrew Rawnsley’s columns, along with the editorial line has over many years been a particular supporter of the Ashdown – Blair idea of close working NuLabour / Lib Dem. For radical Liberals that is anathema, and also reflected sometimes in the news stories they highlight. This view is sometimes reflected in Toynbee’s writings, although less so as the era of SDP and Alliance fades into distant history.

    Concerning Trevor Stables’ complaint, the Guardian made the point several years ago that they were going to downplay Parliamentary debate direct reporting, which, they said, only went along with other papers, and went with the grain of people’s interests these days (I was never convinced by that argument). I haven’t noticed much difference in volume of Parliamentary coverage in the other broadsheets. The i of course, has an entirely different style and volume of coverage, and although I do sometimes read, and enjoy it, in my view it is unlikely to supplant broadsheet coverage!

    I do think the Guardian highlights more arguments in favour of transformative change than others, and again as a radical, I believe that needs doing. We have to be aware of the rightward drift of the Lib Dems over the past 20 years, and the effects that has on media and the population.

  • David Evershed 1st Oct '20 - 12:04pm

    I have been a regular Guardian reader since 1964, originally choosing the Guardian because of its relatively independent news reporting (and excellent labour relations coverage).

    However, for at least twenty years it has abandoned any pretence of independent news reporting. You expect opinion columns to have a bias but the paper has a Labour line which it follows to influence what news stories are given prominence and how they are presented.

    I have written to the editor several times over the years, pleading for them to stop building bias into the news stories – but without any response. I still subscribe to the paper but to see how the news is distorted rather than for fair and balanced reporting.

  • Matt (Bristol) 1st Oct '20 - 12:12pm

    I don’t think the current Guardian editorial line can be taken as a consistently tribal Labour one. Rather, it is increasingly enmeshed in a culture that connects with a faction (or possibly factions) inside Labour. There are therefore Labour factions it does not speak for (or addresses their concerns more rarely). Speaking for all of Labour’s tribes would be somewhat of an improvement. The Observer is rather better in this regard…

  • richard underhill 1st Oct '20 - 12:18pm

    I can choose every day between the Daily Telegraph, the Times and the Guardian and on Sundays between the Sunday Times, the Observer and the Sunday Telegraph, all for free, in the local Waitrose. The Financial Times, the New York Times and the Irish Independent are for sale but not free. It is not difficult to spend a minimum £10 per day on bread, milk etc.
    I have never voted Labour but am currently hoping for a Labour Liberal Democrat coalition at the next opportunity, possibly sooner than expected, noting that the Con whips have been busy recently around the Red Wall.
    Therefore I have been reading the Guardian recently in order to try to find out what it is talking about.
    I regret the death of Howard Evens whose consistent campaigning about Thalidomide over a long period set an example to the remainder of “Fleet Street”. He won.
    Ed Davey’s speeches on caring provides opportunities for newspapers to care more about caring as we all get older and occasionally disabled. I hope he stays fit.
    I used to read the Observer before the Guardian bought it and entertained their cartoonist at a celebration dinner at the NLC after the result of the Ribble Valley bye-election with the new MP and the demise of the Poll Tax and the early bath for the Tory chairman.
    As a personal view politically active people in Leeds could campaign for an extension of HS2 to, or towards, Edinburgh which the SNP are ignoring and similarly from Greater Manchester to, or towards, Glasgow.

  • Any paper that gives its journalists a new, extra alarmist vocabulary to use when writing about climate change does not deserve to be taken seriously.

  • richard underhill 1st Oct '20 - 12:45pm

    David Evershed 1st Oct ’20 – 12:04pm
    The demise of the Correspondent and its excellent coverage of Gorbachev as he tried to restructure the USSR is also regrettable. Gorbachev even tried democracy, locally and independently. With dictatorial powers from such as Stalin the task was difficult. The history included the soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which caused the abolition of an entire army and demonstrations on the streets against redundancy,
    The Independent in print was profitable as the technology improved and some good journalist and cartoonists were head hunted by other media and have stayed. The Telegraph’s ‘Capitalist’ (Jim Slater) sponsored the world chess championship with £50 million, so that Intourist guides were joking about the Kremlin tower of the Saviour being renamed.

  • richard underhill 1st Oct '20 - 12:50pm

    Rupert Murdoch is a classical monopolist AND a denier of global destruction by fires.
    Australia is a lucky country that he has left. The UK is also a lucky country for the same reason. The USA is not a lucky country as the current President gave his thanks for his election.

  • The Guardian seems to back left wing agit prop as its main viewpoint. I rarely read it. Funny because I read the Observer every week. I find Will Hutton, Andrew Rawnsley, and especially William Keegan are close to progressive LD views.

  • Andrew Melmoth 1st Oct '20 - 12:56pm

    “What is worse, Rhiannon Lucy Coslett blamed the coalition for her student debt …”

    This is false. You owe Rhiannon Lucy Coslett an apology.

  • Christopher Curtis 1st Oct '20 - 1:36pm

    I don’t really want any significant news source to be aligned with a political party, even the LibDems. I really want to be able to read reports on what happened, when, who said what to whom and why first, and what various people think they mean and are worth separately. Trouble is, that approach to news has been systematically attacked and destroyed and does not really exist in this country any more.
    There’s an article in the Guardian today which says the latest fuss about the BBC is another step in the long-term battle by over-powerful media barons to destroy the liberal (small l) emphasis on impartiality, accuracy, honesty etc. in our media in order that they are free to market their own aims and have them enacted by the governments they support and get elected (It was the Sun wot own it).
    The Guardian irritates me quite often, but it would be tragic if it went.

  • In the 1960s I started reading the Manchester Guardian Weekly (now the Guardian Weekly). I have always found it more balanced than the parent paper which I went off years ago. I have noticed the Belfast Telegraph gives favourable coverage of the Liberal Democrats.
    Didn’t Labour introduce tuition fees which had to be paid by the student?

  • John Marriott 1st Oct '20 - 1:42pm

    We take the Guardian and the Times and, on Sunday, the Observer and the Sunday Times. My conclusion? Well, first of all size. Why does the Sunday Times still appear as a broadsheet? It’s so awkward to handle. Give me a tabloid format every time. As for content, it’s pretty clear where the Guardian is coming from and it’s not from Great George Street (I hope that’s the Lib Dems’ current address – I nearly typed ‘4 Cowley Street’). The Times is more nuanced, despite being owned by Murdoch, and our two Sunday papers follow a similar pattern. There used to be a rumour in 1987 that, on the Sunday before the General Election, the Editors of the Observer wanted to urge its readers to vote for the Alliance; but demurred after strike threats from their print unions.

    Mention was made of Andrew Rawnsley for his sympathetic articles. I could mention Martin Kettle, Jonathan Freedland, Raphael Behr, William Keegan and, of all people, Hugo Rifkind, who strike me as being left of centre. I really can’t abide people like Matthew Parris, Dominic Lawson, Melanie Phillips, Quentin Letts and, of course, that erstwhile SDP supporter, Ms Toynbee.

    If you take away the aforementioned publications, you haven’t, in my opinion, got much left that isn’t clearly from the right. I’m never quite sure where the Mirror fits any more. That always used to be the daily of choice in our house in the 1950s with, for some unfathomable reason, Beaverbrook’s Sunday Express on a Sunday. In preparing me for the Cambridge entrance exams in the early 1960s I was recommended by my form master to read the ‘Manchester Guardian’ and remember in particular the late Claire Hollingsworth’s reports from war torn Algeria. So I still have a soft spot for its successor and, despite the fact that it ignores most, but not all of my letters, I shall carry on taking it.

  • According to Michael, who I usually listen to with respect, “Many Liberals have abandoned The Guardian in recent years mainly because of its increasing Labour bias”.

    Andrew Melmoth dealt with the student debt issue, but what about pro-Labour bias ? To quote Ms Coslett herself, in a Guardian article attacking Jeremy Corbyn last May :

    http://www.theguardian.com 17 May 2019 “I’ve always backed Labour. But on Thursday, I will vote Green. My vote for the Green party in the European elections is a vote for a commitment to a better future”. – Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett.

    My advice to Liberal Democrats is to stop feeling sorry for themselves and to start saying something interesting, newsworthy – and radical.

    And to remember it’s not just the Guardian that’s given up on the Lib Dems. Michael’s winning vote in Leeds West in 1983 was nearly 18,000 (38.5%). There was a respectable second place in 2010, but, post coalition : 1,495 (3.9%, 2015), 905 (2.2%, 2017 and 1,787 (4.4%, 2019).

    Was it all to do with Guardian readers ? As a Huddersfield expat I don’t think there are that many in Leeds West.

  • Matt (Bristol) 1st Oct '20 - 2:42pm

    Alignment with a party is not my personal goal, but to be honest, UK politics being basically split into left and right, most of the non-TV-and-radio media outlets have a broad editorial line that is either broadly ‘letft’ or broadly ‘right’.

    Nick Tyrone did a good piece on how – in the current era – the ‘right’ is far better at recruiting voices from the ‘left’ to its media outlets to create covering fire and a ‘broad tent’ and how this is a factor in the ‘culture war’. Basically — if the Guardian and similar publications were employing for eg Ken Clarke to write a weekly column, they could more effectively skewer those aspects of the current government that are incompetent, and win over some persons who are tribally ‘right’. (They used to do this kind of opinion piece in the 90s). However, more of the journalism of the ‘left’ at present is based on purity testing and the idea of a community of common values between different political movements. Which excludes the possibility of fellow travellers who agree on one issue but are allowed to openly dissent on another.

  • We are attracted to newspapers that reinforce our prejudice, beliefs and bias. We enjoy being outraged by lurid stories about our political opponents. We want to believe the stuff we are being fed. Newspapers are becoming more like social media, full of managed fake news designed to manipulate the readers and the wider mass opinion. This leads to the outraged movements that protest about about things every other day.

    I tend to skim through a range of news outlets each day to get an overview of the main events. I find that there are far too many opinion pieces, all with different interpretations on the same basic story. I used to find this interesting but now it is of no interest. One man’s truth is another man’s fake news. I don’t waste time on that. If I have an interest in something I would rather read more professional accounts so that I can make up my own mind. Newspapers are no longer reliable sources.

  • Julian Tisi 1st Oct '20 - 5:04pm

    As Pete says above “We are attracted to newspapers that reinforce our prejudice, beliefs and bias. We enjoy being outraged by lurid stories about our political opponents. We want to believe the stuff we are being fed.” Perhaps this is a symptom of our currently polarised political environment. However, there is surely space for a newspaper that doesn’t just spoon feed its readers in this way, that offers different points of view? I remember when the Independent was first published it prided itself on having commentators from the right, left and centre – and it’s what drew me to the paper. Now both the Indy / i and the Guardian seem to be aligned to the left and sadly on many occasions have gone to the extreme. From time to time they have articles favourable to us, for the most part not. I agree with John Marriott that the Times – despite its ownership – shows nuance in a way other papers do not. If only others took that lead.

  • Nonconformistradical 1st Oct '20 - 5:16pm

    @Julian Tisi 1st Oct ’20 – 5:04pm
    Personally I avoid reading certain newspapers simply to keep my blood pressure under some control.

    And I think lurid stories are a waste of time. I hope I’ve got better things to do.

  • Steve Trevethan 1st Oct '20 - 5:54pm

    Are freedom of speech, a fair justice system and independent investigative journalism important to Liberal Democrats?

    If so, might we be more concerned about the Guardian’s treatment of Mr. Julian Assange and its non-reporting of his trial, the conduct of which is deadly dangerous to our “justice” system and the freedom of the press?

    https://www.redressonline.com/2020/09/the-guardians-deceit-riddled-new-statement-betrays-both-julian-assange-and-journalism/
    https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/

  • I used to read The Guardian until recently. I stopped a couple of months ago . It’s just too caught up in the covid thing. No importance is placed on liberty. Generally, speaking it reflects a weak opposition and catastrophizing instead of questioning journalism.

  • Andrew Melmoth 1st Oct '20 - 7:36pm

    Michael Meadowcroft.
    She doesn’t say it nor does she imply it. In fact if you read the article properly it’s clear she couldn’t possibly be implying the coalition is to blame for her own student debt. She says though intimidating it is peanuts compared to the much greater debt faced by students under the system brought in by the coalition. I assume you’ve simply misread the article. That being so and given you accused her of ‘deviousness’ the right thing to do would be to acknowledge your mistake.

  • Nom de Plume 1st Oct '20 - 8:22pm

    I read the Guardian online. It is one of the few UK news sources I follow. It is fairly liberal, but clearly has a broader readership. Also the BBC is OK, but for how much longer? I get most of my information and infotainment from non-UK media, mostly EU countries. The quality is better, less tawdry.

  • Andrew Melmoth 1st Oct '20 - 9:12pm

    Martin
    It is true that the article is hostile to the Lib Dems and it’s perfectly reasonable for Lib Desm to complain about that. However she does not ‘bang on about her student debt’. She mentions it once and only a small part of the article covers tuition fees. Neither she nor the headline (which she wouldn’t have written in any case) imply that the coalition is to blame for her student debt.

    “the overall effect was as Michael Meadowcroft describes.”

    I honestly don’t know what that means. He made a specific allegation and he accused her of being devious. Anyone can see if they read the article that the allegation is false. I don’t know how we get out the dire state into which our politics has fallen but I’m fairly sure it’s not by liberals adopting a Trumpian disregard for the truth.

  • Yousuf Farah 1st Oct '20 - 9:33pm

    The Guardian isn’t a newspaper, to even say it is, is stupid and ridiculous. It is a factional, far-left, socialist propaganda rag for Labour, nothing more and nothing less. No serious person would read a joke newspaper like the Guardian, and we as Liberals shouldn’t be bothered about what it says about us, because like Twitter it is mostly a meaningless echo-chamber that doesn’t reflect reality, although it wishes it did.

  • But it does have a good cryptic crossword

  • Nom de Plume 1st Oct '20 - 9:52pm

    In order to get a broader view I would read a conservative newspaper from time to time, but no such thing exists anymore in the UK.

  • Nom de Plume
    “In order to get a broader view I would read a conservative newspaper from time to time, but no such thing exists anymore in the UK.”
    City AM Mr. Nom, City AM
    https://www.cityam.com/latest-news/

  • Peter Martin 2nd Oct '20 - 7:48am

    “regular pro-Labour columns from Polly Toynbee”

    Well I don’t know about that!

    She has a visceral dislike of the Labour membership. But, after her previous dalliance with the SDP, she is astute enough to realise she needs those very people for her brand of political centrism to prevail. She’d be quite at home in the Lib Dems. By her own admission she failed in the 80s to smash the political party she claims to now support.

  • Peter Watson 2nd Oct '20 - 9:09am

    @Michael Meadowcroft “I deliberately used “Liberal” rather than “Liberal Democrats” as I do not believe that the paper – any paper – can be expected regularly to run columns backing a party as opposed to a philosophy”
    But unfortunately that is the opposite of what you appear to be writing about in the article. Even in the example you highlight (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/18/lib-dems-wreck-20s-young-voters-jo-swinson-tories), Cosslett attacks the record of the party in Coalition (haven’t a lot of Lib Dems done that too?! 😉 ) and a loss of trust in the party, but also writes, “there are homeless people everywhere, food bank use has skyrocketed, the housing crisis has worsened, the right is now the far right, zero-hours contracts are common, and just over half the country has voted to take away its citizens’ ability to live and work in 27 European countries”. Are they not things that Liberals (and Lib Dems) would also rail against?

  • James Fowler 2nd Oct '20 - 9:09am

    I read the Guardian most days. I’m glad that there’s at least one paper outside the reporting norms established by Rothermere and Northcliffe, although I disagree with many of the Guardian’s underpinning assumptions. As regards the Lib Dems the Guardian is an occasional ally when Labour really ditches itself (Iraq, Brexit etc.). Back in New Labour times I used to think that its readership was personified by Shirley Williams, but I think it’s moved further towards the younger and more radical edge of the culture wars since then. It’ll be interesting to see how The Guardian’s perspective on Keir Starmer (he/him/his) works out. There are a lot of essential qualities in evidence but in the end this also has to be checked against various intrinsic privileges. A knotty problem indeed.

  • nvelope2003 2nd Oct '20 - 9:50am

    I have not seen anyone reading The Guardian, Daily Telegraph or even the Sun, for years. The only paper which seems to be read is the Daily Mail on Saturday. I assume some people read the “papers” on line but not that many.
    Some years ago the recycling boxes were full of newspapers but now there are rarely any except for my copy of the local weekly paper. Even our local free paper closed though an optimist has started it up again and there is an online version.

  • Poor LibDems; fancy not having a ‘tame’ newspaper…As for being pro-Labour, the Guardian was, perhaps, the most vociferous critic of the party under Corbyn,,,

    Instead of whingeing, perhaps, you should realise that between 2010 and 2017 this party moved away from the Guardian’s values rather than vice-versa..In 2019, any disenchanted rebel MP (no matter their previous record) was welcomed into the fold and the ‘revoke the vote’ policy was as unliberal as anything from the other parties..

    The Guardian reports ‘news’; give them something of substance to report..

  • “Are they not things that Liberals (and Lib Dems) would also rail against?”,

    I just wish they would.

  • David Rogers 2nd Oct '20 - 10:49am

    My family took the ‘News Chronicle’, and I’m just old enough to remember its demise. I believe the ‘Daily Mail’ (a very different – and indeed broadsheet – paper in those days) was delivered instead, but can’t remember whether this was an automatic, arranged substitution or my parents’ choice. As a student, and well into adult life, I read ‘The Guardian’, but stopped at least 20 years ago as it became increasingly oriented towards Labour. I read with amusement those comments above that suggest it now appears to support one faction or another within the Labour Party, rather than the electoral success of the party as a whole! On another tack, time and technology have moved on for all of us, and far fewer people read printed newspapers at all. For my own part, most news – and comment – is now acquired either from broadcast or online sources, including newspaper articles occasionally. However I do have a subscription to the weekly ‘New European’, which has excellent columnists and cultural features, as well as political coverage. I’ve also become quite interested in the growing ‘Bylines’ series of titles, which are springing up around the country.

  • Daniel Walker 2nd Oct '20 - 11:02am

    @nvelope2003 I assume some people read the “papers” on line but not that many.

    You assumption is incorrect. The Guardian gets more than 10 million visits per day (obviously, some of those will be repeat visits, but that’s true of all website stats)

  • I agree with Michael and for years I have been happy to join him in bashing away at the Guardian letters column. However some of the above comments are quite hysterical to the point of obscuring the newspaper’s real blind spots. A Liberal friend of mine used to defend taking the Daily Telegraph because the bias was so obvious he could sift out the news he wanted. Regular Guardian readers will find most columnists reasonably transparent as to where they are coming from which provides a firm basis for debate and disagreement. I find that having a subscription for the Guardian/Observer and another for Private Eye offers a reasonable perspective which fuels my struggle for a better society in which people can be encouraged to challenge the dominant cultures and corruptions which undermine our common life.

  • Denis Loretto 2nd Oct '20 - 11:26am

    As a Guardian/Observer reader for the last 40 years or so I get as sensitive as anyone else at the paucity of Lib Dem coverage. Even given our lowly position in the polls they might for instance have given us some credit for the tour de force of a full scale online conference involving thousands of members debating and voting on crucial issues. However life is about choices. I think Joe Biden is far from the ideal presidential candidate but compared to the alternative he is a Daniel come to judgement. The Guardian also falls short of perfection but look at the alternatives before setting out publicly to attack it. It is also reasonable to say, as others in this thread have, that we need to do a lot better at making the news if we seek news coverage.
    I will continue to read the Guardian and sigh from time to time.

    I

  • Peter Watson 2nd Oct '20 - 11:58am

    @Michael Meadowcroft “As far as tuition fees are concerned, I never let anyone get away with the specious and deliberately misleading speeches and articles that go on about “debt hanging over students” which is simply not the case.”

    Referring to student debt is nothing new. Even the 2010 manifesto referred to ensuring that “adults who wish to study … are able to do so without being put off by the burden of debt”, and at that time Nick Clegg told students “Right now students are expected to take on up to £10,000 in debt just from fees when it’s already tough enough to get a job and get on the housing ladder. So, even in these very difficult economic times, Liberal Democrats have a plan to phase out fees.” while Kirsty Williams complained that children in Wales “would leave university with record debts”.

    Indeed, in Cosslett’s opinion piece she complains about exactly that same “burden of debt” and seems to be aligned with the Lib Dem attacks on Labour’s policies in 2010 when she writes, “A year later, I graduated into a recession with more than £30,000 in student debt – peanuts, of course, compared with the debts faced by today’s students – but it was still intimidating. Many of my peers had voted Liberal Democrat in 2010 because the party had promised to abolish tuition fees. We knew how it felt to be burdened with huge student debt.”. (As an aside, I disagree with your claim that Cosslett “blamed the coalition for her student debt whereas, as I showed in an unpublished letter, it was, in fact, incurred under the previous Labour government” since her first two paragraphs make it pretty clear that she graduated in 2011 and that her debt is less than that of those of those affected by Coalition policies.)

    Also, a quick Google also shows that over the years the Guardian has published a few of your letters making the same point about tuition fees, including one in Nov 2018, so failing to print a similar one a year later might not mean too much, especially since Cosslett’s piece is less about the detail of tuition fees and more about the betrayal of trust that the party’s pre-election pledges and policy U-turn represented to her. And it looks like that particular article generated a lot more below-the-line comment than her other pieces, so presumably the Guardian would be quite happy about that!

  • Denis Loretto 2nd Oct '20 - 12:41pm

    For heaven’s sake how have we managed to get back into an examination of the carcase of the tuition fees debacle. Hopefully the Guardian will include this in its long list of the Lib Dems greatest hits which they don’t bother covering these days.

  • David Rogers 2nd Oct ’20 – 10:49am
    In the early sixties, under the front page title, the Daily Mail had the words in smaller print- Incorporating the News Chronicle.

  • Robin Grayson FGS 2nd Oct '20 - 2:22pm

    Long live the Guardian!
    It ensured Greater Manchester got a lovely Metro instead of a grotty Underground. Even today the mere existence of the Guardian puts paid to the GM Mayor’ foolish dream of having an Unerground. How come? The Guardian newspaper upped sticks and legged it to years ago, but the Guardian Underground Telephone Exchange – GUTE – deep under the city centre and a bit of Salford it blocks all possible routes for an underground and indeed forces the HS2 to terminate at buffers at London Road Station rather than emerging north of the city en route to Yorkshire and Glasgow. Guardian was a neat cover name to confuse spies who painstakingly mapped all the streets and buildings in Russian for some reason. The Guardian is intact and should be declared a National Heritage Site for its pivotal role in the Cold War.
    Long live the Guardian!

  • The first nine words of this article prompt the response: “Yes, and?” All the newspapers have lost readers. I doubt very much whether increased Labour bias is the cause in the Guardian’s case. For that I’d like to see evidence. The Guardian is an excellent source of top quality journalism which I firmly support. It is independent of control by government, foreign media moguls or tax-avoiding offshore capitalists. If it didn’t exist it would have to be invented. In support I need only mention the colossal Cambridge Analytica scandal which was uncovered by Carole Cadwalladr and published in the Guardian’s Sunday sister publication, The Observer.

  • nvelope2003 2nd Oct '20 - 4:56pm

    Daniel Walker: I suspect that many of those who click on the Guardian or any other newspaper site, like me, want to see a particular item rather than read the paper itself. If all those millions read it online surely there must be a way to get revenue without having to beg for it.

    David Rogers/Manfarang: Laurence Cadbury, the heir of George Cadbury who bought the Daily News before the First World War to support a more Radical Liberal view sold the paper, which had merged with the Daily Chronicle which supported Lloyd George, to Lord Rothermere the owner of the Daily Mail. I have never quite got over the shock as we took the paper every day although the Daily News itself was the result of various mergers and takeovers such as with the Morning Star 1870, Morning Leader 1912 and Westminster Gazette 1928.

  • Daniel Walker 2nd Oct '20 - 5:12pm

    @nvelope2003 “ I suspect that many of those who click on the Guardian or any other newspaper site, like me, want to see a particular item rather than read the paper itself.

    while I suspect fewer people read the paper cover-to-cover (and probably don’t click on some articles they might have read if they had had the print version, which is a shame in many ways) I think that still counts as reading the paper.

    If all those millions read it online surely there must be a way to get revenue without having to beg for it.

    Alas, it appears not, or at least not yet. A lot of papers are behind paywalls these days as Internet advertising revenue has plummeted.

  • Peter Watson 2nd Oct '20 - 7:55pm

    @Martin “My question to both of you is why be so deliberately obtuse about the obvious?”
    The article on this page states that “Rhiannon Lucy Coslett blamed the coalition for her student debt” even though she did not. In the sentence from which you quote she draws attention to when she racked up the sort of student debt that Lib Dems used to dislike and how it compares with even larger debts after the Coalition’s policies.

    Cosslett used the tuition fees U-turn as a reason not to trust the Lib Dems, but in the context of this thread she criticised Lib Dems in particular rather than Liberals in general. Even then, she wrote “I can see the case for voting Lib Dem in a Tory-Lib Dem marginal – if it helps to get the Tories out.” The article’s title (whether or not she chose it) echoes later statements: “For almost my entire 20s, politics has been dominated by the Conservatives. First they were propped up by the Lib Dems …” and “had I spent my 20s governed by Labour, not only would the country look profoundly different but perhaps my life would be too.”

    In the same article Cosslett talked about how close Lib Dems are to the Tories (“the Lib Dems seem to loathe Corbyn’s politics more than they loathe those of the Conservatives”, “Ideologically, they largely overlap with the vanishing “moderate” wing of the Tories”) and said, “The Lib Dems – with Swinson as a coalition government minister – were happy to work with the Conservatives to slash benefits, cut social care and play havoc with the health service”, so I’m surprised that she is being picked up on tuition fees while all that is let go: it doesn’t seem to send the right message and it puts a spotlight back on tuition fees.

  • Peter Watson 2nd Oct '20 - 7:56pm

    @Martin “This piece is about the nature of The Guardian.”
    Indeed, and in the run up to last year’s General Election, The Guardian’s position seemed to be the same as that of the Lib Dems: anti-Brexit and anti-Corbyn. When push came to shove in the Election, the Guardian prioritised anti-Brexit over anti-Corbyn (I wish the Lib Dems had done the same) and its pre-election editorial said, “Despite our misgivings, we believe that a vote for the Labour party offers the best hope for the country. A Labour-led government seems only possible with the support of parties that back its policy on a second referendum on Europe. … That means backing candidates who can defeat the Tories in constituencies where Labour is an also-ran – from the SNP, the Lib Dems, the Greens and Plaid Cymru to pro-European independents”. That hardly sounds like the “factional, far-left, socialist propaganda rag for Labour” referred to by one commentator above!

  • If you do not like it, do not buy it. Simple. Carry on buying and there is no chance they will change their stance. Law of the market. I gave up on Newspapers full stop years ago when the Times took away its special price for those who opted for the daily coupon. From what I can see, glancing at the headlines on TV, the papers are not worth thinking about. They are something from the past, their influence is much less significant, it is mainly journalists who consider them of value. The world is passing them by, rather like a political party I could name!

  • Laurence Cox 3rd Oct '20 - 5:02pm

    Amongst all this Guardian-bashing, I am surprised that no one has mentioned Timothy Garton Ash, who typically does write from a Liberal perspective, but whose articles appear too infrequently. His most recent article on Germany: https://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2020/sep/28/reunification-germany-30-years-eu-transatlantic-western-alliance is as perceptive about the future problems that Germany faces as anything I have read elsewhere, and is a good reason for at least looking at the Guardian web site.

  • nvelope2003 4th Oct '20 - 4:38pm

    Theakes: Reading a daily newspaper does give a more rounded picture of things happening in the world than looking at isolated articles online as I discovered when I had to stop and I often miss interesting stories. Reading online is a nightmare for me. Watching or listening to TV and radio broadcasts means listening to a lot of stuff which is of no intertest. For all its faults the Guardian is still well worth reading – and so is The Times.

  • John Littler 20th Oct '20 - 9:20pm

    As a regular reader of the Graun, I nonetheless wince at some of the coverage, which is campaigning more than journalism and gets into out and out falsehoods about LibDem policy and coalition. I have pointed this out to their political desk, but they certainly don’t give two hoots and will not reply.

    Having said that, I did try the Torygraph for a while and the twisting of truth there is astounding. It used to have more News than anyone else in the 70’s, but it’s a right wing propaganda rag now. They pay more writers to attack issues on every angle. The feature and editorials are often verifiably false, with some truth on the same matters relatively hidden away in the business or financial pages

    To take another extreme, about a fortnight ago, the front page of the Daily Express claimed that soon, Britain would have it’s Brexit Bonus, equivalent to the building of 40 NHS General Hospitals.

    I would like to see the Press regulation Cameron promised, brought in for redress on this sort of nonsense. A recall on Politicians would also be good for where they make pledges that are later found to be untrue. Johnson claimed to have “Oven Ready” deals on brexit and Social Care

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