RIP Manchester Guardian; welcome Euro-Guardian – an open letter to The Guardian

RIP Manchester Guardian; welcome Euro-Guardian – an open letter to The Guardian

I’m not going to go in for the usual disgruntled reader’s rant and say I’m cancelling my subscription to The Guardian. I can’t. My wife pays it and I wouldn’t dream of imposing my views on her. But I do think that for a liberal newspaper, which I’ve always relied on, your reaction to the Brexit vote has been both illiberal and a bit disgraceful.

You and your sister paper believe in democracy, but consistently cast doubts on the decision of the British people to stop taking the Euro medicine you feel is essential for a weak and ailing country, in which you have little faith. You bang on about the vote being close, tell us that no-one understood the consequences, claiming that proponents lied and a stupid nation was conned. All that could be argued against the 2010 election, when the people certainly didn’t vote for Osborne’s nasty austerity, but I don’t remember you saying it then. So why does your new distaste for democracy only apply to matters European?

Your columnists are independent and their views are their own, not the paper’s. Yet, by a strange coincidence, all are Rampant Remainers of an almost religious enthusiasm. All want the vote reversed, cancelled by a second referendum, rejected by Parliament or otherwise subverted. They act like officers in the forthcoming Blair resistance movement, but seem happy to be a Euro fifth column until that’s organised. Some, like Martin Kettle, are even prepared to go to any lengths to sabotage Brexit, though so far he’s only specified four. No doubt a lot more will follow.

Your mantra is that “comment is free, but facts are sacred”, but your comment is all Remain and your facts selective. You trundle out a litany of “facts” which are mostly hypothetical and some downright wrong about the disastrous consequences of Brexit. You say that Brexit ministers are a joke, embarked on mission impossible. You attribute every passing difficulty and every new problem to the vote, never tell your readers about any possible benefits and ignore and discount the mess the EU is in thanks to its disastrous folly of the Euro. I’m expecting an article claiming an increase in halitosis is due to Brexit. Or another blaming flatulence on the upset it causes to liberal tummies.

You grudgingly accept that negotiations have to begin and that the vote requires notice to be given under Article 50. Yet, you then set out to undermine and weaken Britain’s negotiating position before we’ve even started. You treat every threat (and that’s all we get) from the EU as gospel, but denigrate every assertion from Britain. You deny the British case, then claim we haven’t got one. You dilute British demands, argue that none of them are possible in any case, and urge the Government to reveal its hand and go for a “soft Brexit” (whatever that is) rather than set out to get the best possible divorce terms. To frighten us off, you then claim to know that the EU (which doesn’t have to face a fifth column, and a constant barrage of criticism as we do) can’t give way on anything anyway.

You create fear by arguing that Britain outside will be a lonely outcast in a cold, hostile world. You threaten the loss of European culture and civilisation and claim that we will degenerate into a brutalised, populist, Trumpian, racist collection of thugs if we withdraw, but never point out that the EU is not Europe and its vast bureaucracy in marble palaces in Brussels is hardly necessary for good relations with neighbours.

All this amounts to an argument that we should negotiate against ourselves and accept the other side’s demands before we start. That was roughly Chamberlain’s position at Munich. Indeed, your view seems to be that we’ve lost before we begin, so why bother? You seem to suggest that we should rely on the kindness of Europe and the generosity it’s shown to Greece and slink back with our tail between our legs. We may already be relegated to the EU’s peripheral kennel by our refusal to accept the Euro, but you want us to dream from there about leading Europe to some destination which we’ve not quite thought of yet and which they don’t seem to want, rather than do anything the Commission doesn’t like. ¬†

A less hysterical position, surely, must be that the people have spoken. You may not like it, but it does require us to begin negotiations. Negotiating is a process of reaching a compromise, which begins with maximum demands on both sides. We don’t know what the outcome will be and can’t dictate it. Yet we do know that the other side will be tough on us pour d√©courager les autres. So why should we start soft? And why should our case be undermined before you know what it is. Are you clairvoyant?

Surely, the only option is to set out by demanding the best possible terms then negotiate from there and put the outcome to Parliament and people to see if they accept it? I would have thought that The Guardian would accept such a democratic approach. I do, though as one who’s spent his political career throwing seeds on stony ground. You have every right to be daft. But must you be one-eyed and hysterical as well?