• 2021: Letter re Rusbridger

    Letter sent to the New Statesman for issue of 28 May 2021, but not published.

    Alan Rusbridger (NS, Encounter, 21 May), defends “the classical view of free speech” claiming “it would be a dull old paper that didn’t have dissenting voices”. Very worthy sentiments.
    But some of us remember that under Rusbridger’s editorship, the Guardian sacked columnists Mark Steel (1999) and the late Jeremy Hardy (2001). Both were popular and respected broadcasters, and Steel is the author of several books, so journalistic ability was clearly not the issue. But Steel was (then) a member of the Socialist Workers Party and Hardy actively supported the Socialist Alliance which opposed the Labour Party electorally. Apparently the “broad church” advocated by Rusbridger was not broad enough to include them.
    Ian Birchall