Monday, 28 January 2019

Back to the dumbed down Telegraph - and the consistently good Spectator

I unsubscribed from the Daily Telegraph three weeks after Donald Trump won office. The bloggers used to be great, including Tim Stanley and Ed West, the business pages were excellent, but the paper had lost a lot of its character, become more dumbed down than ever, no longer conservative and had hired a bunch of left-wing feminist women. 

Here is the straw that broke my back. A writer called Ruth Sherlock saying that 
Mr Trump has also appointed officials who have expressed far-Right views on social issues including abortion and homosexuality.
The far-right views in question were thinking abortion and homosexual acts were sins.

An earlier article by some woman they had hired was headlined 

The real scandal about abortion is that it is not more widely available
There were also a persistent stream of articles complaining about sexism in football, about homophobia and other problems not calculated to concern my idea of a Telegraph reader, which is a mauve retired major living (disgustedly) in a boarding house in Tunbridge Wells.

But that major died forty or fifty years ago. Modern retired majors still vote Conservative but they wear salmon pink corduroy trousers and work in IT startups. 

The Telegraph has been being dumbed down since the 1980s. This is why Andreas Whittam Smith, Stephen Glover and Matthew Symonds, three senior Telegraph men, left to start the Independent, which at first resembled the old 1970s Telegraph and simply printed news.

I came back to the Telegraph after trying the Times, which has some good writers but many more annoying writers. It is classless and soulless, pro-Brexit but globalist, a nineteenth century liberal rag.  It has as much flavour as a white paper. It could be written and is undoubtedly read by my former colleagues in the civil service.

I tried the Financial Times, which is the best news newspaper but passionately globalist. The Wall St Journal is good but I just do not have time. 

The Telegraph, which is written for people who repair cars for a living, is kindly and nice, unlike the Mail or the Guardian. It somehow implies that England is really a nice place despite the awful news. It is even, occasionally, mildly conservative. 

The Guardian is free online and is written for schoolmasters and schoolmistresses and therefore written for cleverer people than any of the others, except the FT. The Guardian is best for travel. I remember a man once said to me, 'All teachers are lazy. That's why they become teachers. But they like to travel.' 

The Guardian's political opinions are usually poisonous.

The Telegraph is best by a mile for obituaries. Disraeli said there is properly no history. There is only biography. The Telegraph obituary department knows this and is publishing the history of the 20th century in ad hoc and often riotously funny instalments day by day.

So I went back to the Telegraph but the only newspaper I really rely on is a weekly the Spectator which is well informed, intelligent, well-written, and genuinely at times slightly conservative. The Spectator Coffee House blog is usually first with the news and makes sense of it.

There seem to be no good right-wing websites with which to follow British news. Breitbart London is useful and fun but it's pamphleteering rather than news coverage. I very rarely click on it except to learn the truth about Muslim and immigrant stories and to read James Delingpole, who is absolutely invaluable.

Peter Hitchens in the Mail on Sunday is interesting, despite his enthusiasm for Putin, as is Ed West in the Telegraph. But there are very many more good American right-wing sites. I'd probably be better getting away from the co-called legacy media and reading more diversely, but I am a bit too conservative not to read a paper in the morning.


  1. David In Belgrade29 January 2019 at 10:07

    I disagree with several of the opinions that you have expressed above.

    The Daily Mail :) is free to read on-line and doesn't continually beg for money from readers like The Guardian. I don't enjoy reading it as much as I did The Beano but it is often entertaining.

    The Guardian may be written for (comprehensive) school teachers (who may be cleverer than the people who repair cars but not that much, otherwise they wouldn't have become teachers) but the articles often seem to be written by the children that they have taught so poorly.

    And Peter Hitchens enthusiastic about Putin? Get real!

    Re-read his columns for goodness sake:

    I do agree with you about The Financial Times (I always try to pick up a free copy when I fly via LHR T5 or Munich airport), a pity that it is so globalist - ditto The Economist.

  2. For some reason I take the Mail seriously and not the Express, though it's politics are very similar to mine these days and is very pro-Brexit.

  3. I also unsubscribed from The Telegraph a while back due to the influx of feminist columnists they hired. I resubscribed 6 months ago due to a need to follow Brexit. I was pleased to see the feminists had departed and the quality was back up.

    The letters pages of the Telegraph are invaluable. They make me feel that I’m not alone.

    1. I shall start reading the letters. The comments by readers on press articles are usually wonderful, especially on the Telegraph and Spectator. Yes the feminists seem to be lying low or perhaps they are gone.

  4. Your belief that Hitchens has enthusiasm for Putin shows you have not bothered to read anything he has written about him.

  5. I agree with Peter Hitchens in many respects about Putin.

  6. Thanks for that survey. I loved the 1980s independent. Then I went off it for many years but picked it up at the airport the other day. It is less neocon than the guardian and it's got Patrick Cockburn who was right about the middle East. But of course there are so many other news sources these days. Southfront would tell what's going on in Syria.