To attack Freedland is to damage the cause of British republicanism

I cannot begin to understand why the New Statesman chose to publish the characteristically snide, megachip-on-shoulder piece by Toby Young on Jonathan Freedland (Profile, 29 November). Apart from the unjust personal slurs he and so you inflict on the undeserving, highly principled Freedland, you do grave disservice to the cause of British republicanism, which I and many others including (I hitherto thought) the NS have worked so hard to champion, against current odds, in a Blair's Britain that dispenses with (most) hereditary peers while funking the logical correlative disposal of the even more absurd, undemocratic, taxpayer-financed, class-friendly, divisive and ultimately (from where I'm sitting) internationally embarrassing and pantomime-laughable monarchy.

Forget the inevitable serial trashing of Freedland, after his astonishing Guardian moment in the Mail/Sun sun, by Charles Moore's Telegraph. This NS assault on a republican standard-bearer will make Tony Blair and his circle even more coy about tinkering with the throne, for all his Islington kitchen cabinet's scorn of the monarchy before we put him in Downing Street. Bravo, you soi-disant radical reformers. Your envious scorn of one of your own will set back the abolitionist cause by another election victory or two.

As a fan of Freedland's book (yes, I have read it, whatever Young alleges, to the point of praising it on the dust jacket of the paperback), I am astonished that you grant such prominence to so cheap a smear. As a republican, I am appalled that you squander such space on attempting to discredit a prominent campaigner for a (truly) modernised, democratic Britain.

Anthony Holden
New York, USA

I love reading profiles, but Toby Young's piece on my friend Jonathan Freedland would have been better billed as "hatchet job of the week". Young did not speak to me before writing his piece. Yet he makes a number of assertions about a story I wrote concerning Freedland's book. Young affects to have knowledge about my sources and claims. Yes, Toby, I did speak to Freedland prior to writing my piece. Some revelation - Freedland was quoted in the article.

As for the suggestion that Tony Blair has not read Bring Home the Revolution: what he actually said was that it was not his bedtime reading. Simon Walters, the interviewer who elicited this quote from Blair, believes the Prime Minister chose his words carefully. He believes the non denial-denial came because Blair is frightened of making any public admission that he has read a republican tract. Certainly, the book was on display at Chequers when Blair gave a recent press interview. Has William Hague read the book? A member of his staff confirms that he took it on holiday to America with him, as I reported.

Young seeks by innuendo to suggest that Freedland is guilty of cynically placing a story about his book based upon hyped-up claims. Not true. Your writer would have done well to have contacted the Treasury, which is happy to confirm that the Chancellor has read and been inspired by Bring Home the Revolution.

Jack Straw was quoted in my article, making clear his familiarity with the Freedland book. Alongside was a story about a new policy he is to bring in, and how it was inspired by Bring Home the Revolution. This fact did not fit Young's thesis. Is this why he omitted it?

Young says I "acknowledge" that I first got the idea for my story about Bring Home the Revolution when the author "boasted" to me. Untrue. I first started quizzing Freedland about people of influence reading his book during the Tory conference. Far from him boasting, it was weeks before I ascertained the full facts.

What has Toby Young got against Jonathan Freedland? Suspicions of jealousy are hard to resist.

Michael Prescott
Political editor, Sunday Times
London E1

Strange, that as the Sun (of all newspapers) opens up the debate on the constitution and monarchy, the New Statesman descends to tabloid "bitch" articles surrounding the same subject (Profile, 29 November). Let's get away from this country's obsession with personalities and get stuck into the ideas.

Miriam Gitlin
Edgware, Middlesex

This article first appeared in the 06 December 1999 issue of the New Statesman, My night with Mad Frankie Fraser