Newspapers are worth fighting for – even when they’re wrong

You can’t “strike journalists off”, as if they were accountants or lawyers or gynaecologists. They aren’t a profession: they are a great pulsating rabble of people who are distinguished only by our desire – I will not say our ability – to write any old thing for any kind of ephemeral publication. Anyone can be a journalist. You just have to start a blog, break a few stories, and bingo, you are a household name.

Indeed, it seems incredible that we are proposing new regulation for the traditional forms of media just when they are facing the biggest threat to print since Gutenberg. I have it on good authority that they had a brainstorming session at the Guardian the other day, and discussed the possibility of axing the print version altogether. There is apparently a well-advanced plan to stop the presses, spare the trees and go completely online, within the next two years.

This story has now been officially denied by the Guardian politburo – a move that of course adds nothing but credence to the plot. Let me be clear about me and the Guardian. I don’t think they have ever supported anything I have said or done. When I was standing against Ken Livingstone, they did a special supplement in which various members of the Lefty great and the good were invited to say what a prat/plonker/berk/buffoon I was. Many of them vowed to leave London if I were elected (a promise, sadly, they have not kept).

In spite of this strange hostility, I say to my Guardian friends: don’t do it. It would be a national tragedy if we lost the paper version – the wood-pulp and ink version – of this historic publication. It’s no use telling us that the content would all be there “online”. Everything is online, a great charnel-house of porn and piffle. We need the Guardian lowering at us from the news-stands in all its highmindedness; we need to see people nodding over it gently on the Tube.

Take it online and you lose all political impact; you lose the vital editorial marshalling of the often excellent journalists and cartoonists and photographers into a single daily statement, a single product – and everything gets lost in the morass of Google news. We will always need a real and not a virtual Guardian.

Guilt-ridden Lefties will need it to swat the mosquitoes in Tuscany, or to light the wood-burning stoves in their second homes, or to line the tuck boxes of their little ones as they guiltily pack them off – like dear Polly Toynbee – to their fee-paying schools. And it would be a calamity for us Conservatives if we no longer knew what the enemy was thinking. We need a paper that is genuinely, viscerally hostile to anything that looks remotely like a spirit of enterprise and competition. We need a paper that believes capitalism is fundamentally flawed; that wishes fewer people had jobs in financial services; that thinks the euro was and still is a jolly fine idea; that dislikes the ideology of home ownership (except for Guardian journalists, who are allowed to have more than one); that dislikes anything “elitist” (except for the schools attended by the children of Guardian journalists).

We need a paper that believes the answer to all problems is more tax and more regulation. We need to have the enemy in plain view, on the table, in the shops – not skulking online. We need to know what not to think. So I appeal now to all Conservatives and indeed anyone interested in preserving our national heritage. Even if we only have a few hundred copies left, let us keep the Guardian’s print edition – displayed in town halls, perhaps, like the People’s Daily. Never mind the badger. Save the Guardian from extinction!

3 thoughts on “Newspapers are worth fighting for – even when they’re wrong”

  1. Excellent stuff, a paragon of the concinnate piss-take. (ha!: red-wiggly-lined, ergo, worthy of BJ Himself)

    May I recommend, for anyone who hasn’t seen it, the wonderful Pat Condell’s ‘The ugliest newspaper in Britain’

    Actually the only link that seems pastable seems to go to his latest (of 117, all worth watching) so go back about 4 for the Guardian one.

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