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Independent’s progressive credentials must be respected

The Independent newspaper’s reputation as one of the few mainstream progressive mainstream newspapers must continue, whoever takes over as editor.

The online campaign to prevent Rod Liddle becoming editor of the Independent – which attracted over 1,000 supporters in just 24 hours – shows the level of concern there is about protecting the paper’s ideological heritage.

The Facebook group, called ” If Rod Liddle becomes editor of The Independent, I will not buy it again”, took off after a report in the Media Guardian named Spectator and Sunday Times columnist Liddle as a frontrunner to be appointed by the Independent’s new Russian owner, billionaire Alexander Lebedev.

Liddle provoked a storm of protest recently after he wrote an article claiming that the “benefits of a multicultural Britain” were gun crime, robbery and sexual violence committed by African-Caribbean men. He added that “in return” the UK got “rap music and goat curry”.

Challenged by Operation Black Vote’s director Simon Woolley, Liddle made a partial climbdown, saying: “that is not what I intended [to write].”
However, as this article spells out, the former editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme has a long record of offensive comments on the issue of race and religion.

And, as the website Left Foot Forward noted today, Liddle has continued to churn out shocking remarks, such as referring to “Somali savages”, and in his latest column on the Islam4UK march through Wootton Bassett, he wrote: “F*** off back to where you’re from, then, you Muslims.”

Many of the 2,000 plus Facebook users who opposed the idea of the reactionary columnist taking over at the famously left-leaning newspaper also object to Liddle’s frequent chauvinist remarks about women.

There are suggestions that an advertising client of the Independent will tell the paper tomorrow that they will withdraw their business if Liddle becomes editor.

Alex Higgins, the creator of the Facebook page, commented today: “It’s clear that some bloggers think the Rod Liddle appointment is so preposterous that it can’t possibly be serious. I wish they were right – but unfortunately, they are not.”

Pickled Politics has commented on the fact that Liddle has penned a stream of articles attacking Seacole’s status as a revered historical figure, leading to accusations that he is “obsessed” by the Crimean War nurse.

Bizarrely, The Voice columnist Tony Sewell followed Liddle in downplaying Seacole’s role, but today writing in the same paper, Professor Elizabeth Anionwu from the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal defended the nurse’s right to be celebrated in modern times.

By Lester Holloway

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