A treatise from Tuscany.
Show Hide image

Read the "precarious" Guardian's plea for readers' money (not mentioning it has £850m in the bank)

Polly's plea.

Could the Guardian get any more Guardian

The self-styled "precarious" broadsheet (which has £850m in the bank) is begging its readers for money, via a heartwarming plea from its columnist Polly Toynbee (salary: somewhere north of £100,000; second home: somewhere in Tuscany).

In a smug full-page ad for the Guardian membership package, it preys upon its readers' brotherly munificence – "There is an instinctive bond between Guardian readers – we almost nod to one another as we read the paper on the train" – with tales of oligarchal evil and financial adversity.

The Guardian’s life has always been precarious because we don’t have an owner or a corporation propping us up. We don’t have a press baron or oligarch ordering us to take their political or commercial line. We swim along in a dangerous world of media sharks, our independence precious and unique

Polly's plea for readers to become members, essentially an invitation to spend more money on the brand by attending its events and masterclasses, is a little cheeky considering the paper received a massive financial boost after selling Autotrader last year. Press Gazette reports that it currently has cash reserves of £850m. Also, the paper's ability as a trust to operate at a loss (running to around £20-30m) probably makes it the least "precarious" national broadsheet in Britain.

Here's the ad:

Dear reader, swim clear of the real "media sharks"...

I'm a mole, innit.

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

Jeremy Corbyn challenged by Labour MPs to sack Ken Livingstone from defence review

Former mayor of London criticised at PLP meeting over comments on 7 July bombings. 

After Jeremy Corbyn's decision to give Labour MPs a free vote over air strikes in Syria, tonight's Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) meeting was less fractious than it could have been. But one grandee was still moved to declare that the "ferocity" of the attacks on the leader made it the most "uplifting" he had attended.

Margaret Beckett, the former foreign secretary, told the meeting: "We cannot unite the party if the leader's office is determined to divide us." Several MPs said afterwards that many of those who shared Corbyn's opposition to air strikes believed he had mishandled the process by appealing to MPs over the heads of the shadow cabinet and then to members. David Winnick declared that those who favoured military action faced a "shakedown" and deselection by Momentum activists. "It is completely unacceptable. They are a party within a party," he said of the Corbyn-aligned group. The "huge applause" for Hilary Benn, who favours intervention, far outweighed that for the leader, I'm told. 

There was also loud agreement when Jack Dromey condemned Ken Livingstone for blaming Tony Blair's invasion of Iraq for the 7 July 2005 bombings. Along with Angela Smith MP, Dromey demanded that Livingstone be sacked as the co-chair of Labour's defence review. Significantly, Benn said aftewards that he agreed with every word Dromey had said. Corbyn's office has previously said that it is up to the NEC, not the leader, whether the former London mayor holds the position. In reference to 7 July, an aide repeated Corbyn's statement that he preferred to "remember the brilliant words Ken used after 7/7". 

As on previous occasions, MPs complained that the leader failed to answer the questions that were put to him. A shadow minister told me that he "dodged" one on whether he believed the UK should end air strikes against Isis in Iraq. In reference to Syria, a Corbyn aide said afterwards that "There was significant support for the leader. There was a wide debate, with people speaking on both sides of the arguments." After David Cameron's decision to call a vote on air strikes for Wednesday, leaving only a day for debate, the number of Labour MPs backing intervention is likely to fall. One shadow minister told me that as few as 40-50 may back the government, though most expect the total to be closer to the original figure of 99. 

At the end of another remarkable day in Labour's history, a Corbyn aide concluded: "It was always going to be a bumpy ride when you have a leader who was elected by a large number outside parliament but whose support in the PLP is quite limited. There are a small number who find it hard to come to terms with that result."

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.