Is the Guardian becoming  a real newspaper again?

by Jan Rivers

The article has been corrected to show that it was Ewen MacAskill, former Guardian journalist, and not Luke Harding who traveled to meet Edward Snowden with journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras.  Some of the Guardian’s well-known journalists who did not sign the protest letter are added to the article. 

Suzanne Moore is the winner of the 2019 Orwell Prize for journalism for her Guardian opinion pieces but her March 2 article  “Women must have the right to organise. We will not be silenced” caused a revolt. Three hundred and thirty-three Guardian staff signed a letter complaining against the paper’s “repeated decision to publish anti-trans views”.  The letter had previously been released and published, though not the signatories. Yesterday Moore turned the tables on her accusers. She published their names admitting that they had been leaked to her.

Suzanne Moore

Moore’s article was about the de-platforming of Oxford Professor of Modern History Selina Todd from a conference where she had been due to give a vote of thanks and the wider context of the effects on women of accusations of “transphobia”.  Todd was denounced as “transphobic” by a senior student leader.  Lola Olufemi had already withdrawn from the event in protest at Todd’s invitation, which was to mark the 50 anniversary of the first National Women’s Liberation Conference at Oxford’s Ruskin College. The accusation arose because Professor Todd had spoken (on her academic specialism of recent working history) at an event for Woman’s Place UK, an organisation that advocated against self-id in proposed changes to the UK Gender Recognition Act.

Moore wrote that she knew about the “the consequences of being deemed transphobic by an invisible committee on social media” and outlined that for her they have included rape and death threats and which for Todd have been so serious that she has now security guards at the University to protect her. 

Many of the journalists who signed the protest letter are ancillary staff, but they include a number of well-known journalists and columnists, including Owen Jones, the loudest and most well-known advocate of trans rights and opponent of women’s rights to their own places and services. Alan Evans, the commissioning editor for science, environment and global health was also a signatory as was Luke Harding.

The Guardian has no shortage of courageous journalists.  Ewan MacAskill and Glenn Greenwald accompanied Laura Poitras to meet Edward Snowden in 2014 – a courageous feat for all concerned. MacAskill was famously seen in the resulting documentary – an old-fashioned journalist writing in shorthand on a pad while the others were recording video interviews. Carole Cadwalladr exposed Cambridge Analytica to the world and has faced down legal threats over 4 years for this. Harding, who wrote The Snowden Files (2014), is no wimp as a journalist. His reporting from Russia meant he was deported by Putin.  Evans signed despite transgender ideology’s conflict with biological science.

I was delighted to see that none of my favourite Guardian journalists were signatories.  Polly Toynbee is not there.  Neither is Carole Cadwalladr, nor Zoe Williams, Will Hutton, Jonathan Freedland, Aditya Chakrabortty, Oliver Burkeman,  George Monbiot, Simon Jenkins, Nick Cohen or many others. Some of these and many others will presumably be amongst those who have written in support of Suzanne.

But Harding’s and Evans’ signatures show that even the otherwise brave can be cowed when it comes to defending women’s rights.

Not only has Moore been treated poorly by her colleagues but previous articles on gender issues have been knocked back and the Guardian is still behind other outlets in addressing the problematic issues related to the institutional embedding of trans agendas in public institutions. (***  See below). Notwithstanding all this the larger picture for the Guardian is more promising. Today Moore has tweeted that she has had much support both inside the paper and beyond.  It also appears that editor Katharine Viner has also seen off the threats to writing about women’s issues at the Guardian

In this respect there are parallels with J.K. Rowling who ‘liked’ a gender-critical tweet back in 2018 and then backtracked and had her publicists say it was a mistake. She bided her time, probably fully aware of the fury that results when addressing women’s issues. When she was ready she tweeted the now infamous message where she supported Maya Forstater. Forstater’s unsuccessful employment tribunal case had found, remarkably, that the right to believe in the reality of sex was not a protected belief.  

Likewise with the Guardian. A 2018 editorial in the Guardian about the proposed self-ID legislation argued that women’s and trans rights needed to be balanced.  This caused an angry revolt amongst the transgender advocates on the Guardian’s staff.  The Guardian editorial team appeared to back down and printed a long and florid rebuttal from three US-based staff alleging transphobia and bigotry by the paper and outlining the vulnerability of transgender people.  Following Moore’s recent article though it was reported thatViner, along with chief executive Annette Thomas, emailed all staff defending its decision to publish pieces that “never shy away from difficult or divisive subjects” and pledging to represent “a wide range of view on many topics”.  While relationships at the Guardian sound strained, Viner’s stance and Moore remaining at the paper hopefully signals the winning back of some space for addressing women’s issues. If so, that is a welcome outcome. 


***Issues related to transgender advocacy that have not yet been discussed in the Guardian include the misrepresentation of the provisions of the Human Rights Law by multiple parties in the UK; the deliberate attempts to keep the advance of trans ‘rights’ out of the public sphere; the large scale overt and covert funding and support of the transgender lobby by billionaires; the Future of Legal Gender project whose surveys were framed so that only ‘trans’ or ‘non-binary’ people can take part even though any legal impacts arising from the project would be ubiquitous;  the effective “conversion therapy” of children by being told by authority figures that it is possible to be “born in the wrong body”;  the growing links between transgender ideology and transhumanism;  the growing market in transgender medication and surgery and the way that this is being used as a Trojan Horse for increasingly extreme forms of body modification.


  1. Hi there Jan, former Guardian staff journalist here.
    I used to work with Luke Harding and I’m very pissed off that he is one of the signatories.
    But Luke was not involved with Edward Snowdon in Hong Kong with Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras. It was Ewen MacAskill, who is now retired, incredible journalist and lovely, lovely man.
    Luke WAS the Moscow correspondent for years, and was expelled by the Putin regime because of his coverage.
    He may have met Snowdon in Russia. Can’t remember.
    I used to sit next to Ewen in the office

    So you might want to correct that. Check the film characters, if you want. Luke isn’t with Glenn and Laura. It’s Ewen.

    • Thanks Cat. A correction is coming. I confused Luke – who wrote the Snowden Files in 2014 with Ewen and should have checked. Citizen Four is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen and a the best of journalism. So many others too. I’ve also added a few of the notable names who did not sign. They may not have been asked of course – but for most that will speak well of them – from my perspective anyway.

  2. How did men with severe clinical delusions become a “cause ” ? All Marxists should reject this ludicrous bourgeois affectation for what it is .You simply can not be someone else in your body, you are your body and the entire trans phenomenon is centred around self hatred.Such people are not rational and should never be trusted unaccompanied around young people or anyone vulnerable. In their rush to pose as morally superior to the rest of us mere mortals the trans advocates demand a position of privilege for trans men . They demand “rights” which only they would have .

    • I do think there is such a thing as dysphoria (or hatred of one’s own body) and that it is painful. However we live in a culture in the West where our public discussion about issues of mental health are very primitive. A lot of people are unaware that their own rumination and obsessing makes random thoughts concrete and habitual. We’ve lost sight of the philosophy that explains we are our bodies in favour of a Cartesian view that sees the mind as separate. I’ve thought a lot about the additional rights claimed by transgender advocates and believe that indeed they are exceptional just as attempting to transcend the physical body is exceptional. We should think very carefully about whether and under what circumstances such rights should be granted. I think we should consider for example if we allow 1 special group of people to reinvent themselves or demand to be spoken about only in ways that transgender people demand whether and to what extent all people should not be granted those rights. In thinking about this would such a society be governable.

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