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The Guardian’s Famed Commitment To Facts



There’s much to love in this Joseph Harker column:

Over the past few days I’ve found myself feeling at odds with writers on the left that I normally agree with.

Excellent Joe, that means you’re growing up, rejecting groupthink and beginning to figure things out directly. A little late in life perhaps but as we’ve been advised fatted calves await the prodigal’s return.

This is also a delightful twisting of words, well done there:

Let us not forget that an intellectual hero for many of these writers is historian David Starkey, a prominent media voice for decades, who this summer seemed to almost regret that “so many damn blacks” had survived slavery.

No, Starkey pointed out that US slavery, based as it was upon cotton plantations, not sugar, wasn’t that appalling a physical – note physical, we are not talking liberty here but just living standards – thing to try to have to live through. The proof being that there are a lot of descendants of those who did live through it. More than those on the sugar plantations of the Caribbean. Actually, more than, proportionately, those who tried but failed to live through Stalinist collectivisation in many a country. So well done in turning that phrase around into an entirely different meaning.

Where we must call a halt to the congratulations is here:

Ever since the Sunday Times reported that the BBC was discussing ditching Rule, Britannia! at this year’s Proms, these voices have been almost united. They’ve treated this as a non-story – a confection by the Murdoch press – and pointed out that no one has been demanding the banning of this song, so we should move on and talk about the things that really matter.

Faced with a rightwing backlash, the BBC first said it would be played but not sung due to Covid restrictions, with the words reinstated next year; and today, under its new director general, Tim Davie, (a former Conservative organiser), it has completely U-turned and announced that the words will be sung this year after all.

There are, of course, far bigger issues than what a hall full of people sing on one night of the year. This year has demonstrated how intractable racial inequality is in this country, and how difficult to eradicate.

Err, Joe laddie? Rather the point is that there will be no audience which is why there won’t be the singalongaempirenoppression.

Fans of the Proms have been asked to submit footage of themselves clapping and cheering, which will be included in this year’s Last Night of the Proms coverage, which, this year, is taking place without an audience.

The rest of the piece, opinion, fine, however silly it actually is. You know, black Briton, at the peak of his profession, complaining about how racist the society is. Ahem.

But we do get to one more thing:

Joseph Harker is the Guardian’s deputy Opinion editor

Well, that explains why no one in the multi-layer editing process has tried to correct that factual mistake. But think on this a little more. Someone who can make this sort of howler is – in newspaper hierarchies it is the deputies who really run opinion pages, commission, edit, check and so on – is the person who checks other entries for howlers. Which is a pretty good guide to the Guardian opinion pages, no?



  1. Intractable racist society? Has he ever been to Fiji? Or Kenya?

    If the UK is so appalling racist then naturally there are flotillas of boats of people fleeing this country.


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in British English
expunct (ɪkˈspʌŋkt)
VERB (transitive)
1. to delete or erase; blot out; obliterate
2. to wipe out or destroy

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