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No boycott of the Indy

Jim Jepps


Many people, fresh from the glow of the election results and happy (or relieved) about the quality of RESPECT's vote were bemused to find that RESPECT is calling for a boycott of the Independent.

 

The article, which is currently the second item on the front page reads;

"The Independent was top of the list of national newspapers attacking (and ignoring) Respect. They  refused to print our news and even letters to the editor despite promising to, the new Labour lickspittle in charge did not respond to a letter from George Galloway asking for fair coverage, columnists like Johann Hari and Nick Cohen poured on vitriol, and on the morning of the election the paper described us as ‘a motley collection of extremists’.

"It’s time for payback. We aren’t asking for flattering coverage but we do demand that the power of a newspaper is not employed to unfairly denigrate – all right, lie about us! – and in a democracy the best way of demonstrating what we feel is to boycott the newspaper. Its finances are fragile enough. Join us and vote with your pocket. Bust the Independent. We’re having the tee-shirts, badges and stickers printed now. Boycott the Indie"

This article can be found at the site; http://www.respectcoalition.org/?ite=334

[subsequent note; this link now goes direct to the front page and the article is no longer available from the RESPECT website]

 

This is a massive mistake and should be withdrawn. Perhaps due to post election exhaustion this error is not 'party policy' as it were, let's hope so - but to spend RESPECT resources on this kind of petulant campaign is idiotic at best and down right counter productive at worst.

 

Let's be clear, the Independent is the clearest, most consistently anti-war daily newspaper in this country. It's circulation is increasing and it carries columnists like Mark Steel who have been vociferous against New Labour's betrayals of working class people. Will we be asking Mark to give up his job perhaps?

 

To boycott this publication would be madness. Whoever wrote this piece (it's not signed) needs to take a step back and think about what they are doing. They call for the Independent to be driven out of business - well, what a step forward for the anti-war movement that would be. What are we meant to read instead? The pro-war Guardian? The tittle-tattle in the Mirror?

 

But there's more - a boycott won't work and will only drive potential supporters away. This weekend more people than ever will be visiting the RESPECT website - many of them Independent readers, wondering about RESPECT and wanting to know more. Is this what we want them to think about us?

 

To see that RESPECT is calling on a boycott of the best anti-war paper available will reek of small player sectarianism. In the very moment that we have a chance to step up into the big league of politics let's not make ourselves sound isolated and politically naive.

 

RESPECT has surpassed expectations, it has proved that a broad progressive organisation can gain a hearing from a larger audience - let's just make sure that what we call for is worth the trouble of saying.

 

June 2004

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READERS NOTE;
 
Within 24 hours of this article appearing the article was withdrawn from the RESPECT website.

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