Why has The Guardian turn itself into the tame instrument of Arthur Scargill’s rehabilitation?
In the first week in March - the twenty fifth anniversary of the start of Scargill’s 1984-5 miners strike - it carried two pages by Arthur about how he was right and everyone else was wrong; another big piece by his tame acolyte Seumas (known to fellow Guardian journos as "Shameless") Milne, author of a nauseating hagiography of the great man, saying the same thing; and a review of Francis Beckett and David Hencke’s new history of Scargill’s strike which appeared that week , written by ....Seumas Milne, who said Beckett and Hencke’s book was ruined because it was disrespectful to the miners’ leader.
And that was it, apart from a pompous editorial which one one will read. No one else was allowed to say anything in the paper about the book, and bear in mind that David Hencke is one of the paper's star journalists. Even when Scargill wrote to the paper to accuse Beckett and Hencke of making up a story, Beckett and Hencke had to agitate for ten days before they were allowed a brief letter showing their evidence for the story. Scargill, meanwhile, was telling everyone who would listen that they had still not provided the evidence.
Here’s why it all happened. Three months earlier the publishers sent proofs of the new history of the strike – Marching to the Fault Line - to the Guardian, so the paper could decide if it wanted to serialise it. Since Hencke is a Guardian staffer, the paper had insisted on having first refusal.
It arrived on the desk of Shameless’s chum Becky Gardiner, who buys books for the paper to serialise. She gave it to her friend Shameless. He wrote to the authors demanding changes, claiming they had misrepresented his book and quoted him without checking back quotes, contrary to an agreement he claimed they had with him. Meanwhile Gardiner strung the publishers along for weeks, claiming she was busy, and (rather implausibly) that she thought they really wanted to sell it to the Mail rather than the Guardian.
Milne got a two word answer from Beckett and Hencke, and the second word was “off.” The authors added that he had the proofs on condition they should not be shown to anyone else. Milne was furious, pointedly ignoring his colleague Hencke when they met in corridors.
On the week of the anniversary, Scargill arranged a public meeting in London, at which he said that the only decent journalist in London was one Seumas Milne. Shameless.
Buy the book HERE.