Monday, May 27, 2024
HomeCulture WarThe Guardian goes from badge to worse with its slavery slurs   

The Guardian goes from badge to worse with its slavery slurs   


I TOLD earlier this month how the Guardian has got its amour propre in a twist after the revelation that its founders in 1821 benefited from the transatlantic slave trade.

In response to the findings, bosses at Britain’s haven of humbuggery threw themselves into an orgy of self-flagellation and virtue signalling, launching a series of condemnatory articles focusing mainly on Manchester, historic centre of the cotton industry and the city where the paper had its roots.   

Since then, we have had the unedifying spectacle of the Guardian’s journalists and contributors frantically scrabbling round Manchester for something on which to slap a ‘slavery link’ label and then trying to whip up outrage about it.   

But the latest chapter in this bizarre campaign is really scraping the barrel . . . targeting the city’s football club badges. Feature writer Simon Hattenstone has homed in on the logos of Manchester City and Manchester United, which both include an illustration of a sailing ship. And he has reached what he clearly sees as a ‘Gotcha!’ conclusion – sailing ships were used to carry cotton, which was produced in the southern United States using slave labour. Therefore, displaying sailing ships is shameful. Both clubs must immediately delete the offending vessels from their badges.   

I hold no brief for either Man City or Man United (quite the contrary). But I find it absurd and offensive that the clubs should be thus gratuitously assailed in an attempt to shore up the Guardian’s increasingly crazed crusade.   

For the record, the sailing ships are taken from the coat of arms of the Borough of Manchester. They were granted in 1842, 35 years after Britain’s 1807 abolition of the slave trade, and are there simply to symbolise the city’s trade with the rest of the world. In fact, no large ships were seen in Manchester until the opening of the 35-mile-long Manchester Ship Canal in 1894.  

Hattenstone’s argument is that the city was still using slave-produced US cotton up to the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, so the symbolic use of the vessels must be denounced. Talk about clutching at straws! I wonder if he knows that in 1862 Manchester mill workers supported US President Abraham Lincoln’s call for an embargo on Confederate cotton, even though it meant destitution and starvation for them and their families. He could have read about this selfless gesture in a Guardian article ten years ago. 

I’ll tell you what, Mr Hattenstone, if we’re talking about links to slavery, how about demanding that the Guardian abandons its main headline typeface, which is shamefully called ‘Guardian Egyptian’? After all, slavery was practised in Egypt from ancient times right until the late 19th century. Yes, it’s a ridiculous link to make, but no more ridiculous than calling for the removal of ships from football badges. Sorry, Mr Hattenstone, you may be a self-proclaimed City fan, but this is an own goal.   

Not that any such argument will halt the unhinged, obsessive drive of the Guardian as it tries to scrub away its sinful slavery links with a £10million ‘Restorative Justice’ brush and a bar of ‘We Are All Guilty’ soap.    

So far, though, the campaign seems hardly to have caught on, except with Guardian bosses and a few of the more fervent Guardianistas. But, like a spoilt child that can’t get its own way, the Graun – the Violet Elizabeth Bott  

of journalism – will keep harping on about it, yelling: ‘Notice me, or I’ll scream and scream and scream until I’m sick.’   

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Henry Getley
Henry Getley
Henry Getley is a freelance journalist.

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