Magazine article The Spectator

The Guardian Has Taken a Risk for Peace, Gerry and Martin Must Not Let It Down

Magazine article The Spectator

The Guardian Has Taken a Risk for Peace, Gerry and Martin Must Not Let It Down

Article excerpt

My relative scanned me closely. 'Are you all right, darling?' she asked. I can't be sure, but I think my eyes may have prickled with tears, and there was perhaps a lump in my throat; and she knew. She reads the Guardian, you see, always has done, and she knew that they had been - choke -- horrid to her boy and his chums.

For the benefit of the handful who do not read the Guardian editorials, they had a go at us the other day. It seems that someone at the Guardian was furious at a recent piece, of characteristic brilliance, by Stephen Glover. The gist of his column was that the paper could be pretty 'green' - if not green - in its editorial line on Ulster. Without causing Alan Rusbridger to throw his toys out of the pram, let me summarise Glover's detailed article by saying that he identified pro-Republican trends in the Guardian, and linked them to various high-- ups on that paper, some of whom have interesting relations with the sympathisers of Sinn Fein/IRA. To judge by the reaction from Farringdon Road, this article was like the little bomblet that falls down the tall spindly chimney in the middle of the Dreadnought, plink plink plink, until it reaches the engine room, and boom.

Now, if the last few years teach us anything, it is that those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first encourage to attack the Guardian. The political world is full of the gibbering wraiths of right-wingers who thought they could beat Mr Preston or Mr Rusbridger; and I am not at all keen to join them. No, my hope is that by the time Alan reaches the end of this article, he will be so poleaxed by a sense of peace, wisdom, calm and common sense, that hostilities will cease between our two great titles, and the lantern eye of the Guardian editorial page can turn away from us, and back to those causes which cry for Justice! Such as Third World debt, the continuing existence of male-only clubs, and the difficulties of breast-feeding on Connex South Central.

So let me say first that if we got anything significantly wrong (and I don't think we did), then I apologise unreservedly, and reaffirm that our letters page is open for corrections. In that respect, incidentally, we differ from the Guardian, which constantly preens itself about free speech and free debate, and yet which has unaccountably declined to publish my own letter (which is why I am driven to writing this article). I'm sorry, too, if members of the Guardian's staff feel traduced; because the reality is that the Guardian, on the question of Ulster, has been little short of heroic.

It has looked deeply at the question; it has gauged the passionate desire for peace in all communities; and it has decided, after much meditation, to take a risk with its readers. The newspaper has decided to see goodness in Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. The leaders of Sinn Fein/IRA (and, as everyone from the Prime Minister downwards has assured us, there is no important distinction, no moral distinction, between the two organisations) are regularly presented as men who deserve our quiet understanding. We must give them time, the newspaper has urged. They deserve our sympathy. Leaders have spoken cluckingly of the strain in Gerry Adams's voice, and portrayed him as a man hemmed in by unreason: Republican diehards; primitive, obscurantist Unionists; an-immobile British government.

You and I might think that this was a flattering portrait of the Sinn Fein leadership, and that Adams and McGuinness are still spokesmen for an organisation which has bombed and killed until the government, exhausted, has capitulated and offered to reform the UK constitution to their satisfaction. …

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