People are in a frenzy, and understandably. It appears that the Independent is soon to be taken over by russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev and his favoured candidate for the editors chair is Rod Liddle – a particularly vile specimin of humanity.
So far I have not joined the thousands in the facebook group threatening a boycot should he become editor even if I sympathise with their anguish.
I do think that it is important to be a bit clear eyed about what kind of paper the Independent currently is. As I reported last year on The Third Estate, it did indeed back the right wing military coup in Honduras against an elected left of centre government. And while it does screech loudly about climate change – as perhaps one should – its wider politics are fairly mixed. Meanwhile, this sequence of potential events raises wider issues than whether one man gets to be editor. The point is that even if Liddle isn’t chosen, the choice will still be up to Lebedev – a man whose Evening Standard newspaper has been vociforously beating the Afghan war drum. At the end of the day, there is a limit to how far we can consider any part of the major corporate owned media ‘our own’ . However progressive a paper might be at one point in time, the reality is that it’s future can be bought and sold.
So perhaps rather than put all of our energy into trying to save one relatively progressive paper from a devil-like figure, perhaps it is more useful to support genuine non-corporate bastions of progressive politics. Purely by chance I bought the Morning Star on my way to work yesterday, and you know what, it is far far better than when my parents used to get it a few years back. There were only 16 pages, yet in contrast to my experience with the broadsheets, every pagecontained something in which I was interested. So why not support it. And while your at it, spread the word of The Third Estate, and, um, be nicer to trot paper sellers on demos. I used to be one of them and you guys can be damn cold.