Comment isn't always free in the Guardian

Last week Polly Toynbee wrote a fairly negative Guardian comment piece about my colleague and good friend Dennis Skinner.

As well as being unfair it contained an inaccuracy. I would have thought the Guardian would have given due prominence to a contrary view and to show they'd made a mistake.

Instead they edited it, stripped out my comments and buried it at the bottom right of today's letters page.

This was in spite of it being well within the 250 word limit. Even the headline "Thanks to Ruskin" was positive.

So I thought I'd use Twitter to show you the original letter.

It seems the Guardian editors are a bit sensitive about London dinner parties and my advice that Polly should research her pieces.

Comment isn't always free!


"In her article ‘Skinner is No Model’ (Guardian Friday 4 July) Polly Toynbee claimed “Skinner, John Prescott and Alan Johnson – workers who came up through the unions, all clever men – would certainly go to university these days”.

"Dennis Skinner and I went to the Labour Trade Union’s Ruskin College in Oxford, where the entry qualifications were not O or A levels but your involvement in strikes. Thanks to Ruskin, I then went on to get a degree in economics at the excellent Hull University. I’m sorry the fact I went to university was not clear to Polly. Perhaps in future she should research her pieces before writing them.

"However, for Polly to blame Skinner and Tony Benn for “rendering Labour unelectable” in the 1980s is a bit much. The greater damage was the split to the Labour Party caused by the London dinner party that was the SDP, of which Polly was a founding member and a parliamentary candidate in 1983.

"It’s fair to say Polly and her fellow ‘social democrats’ made a much larger contribution to keeping Labour in the wilderness for 18 years than Skinner and Benn ever did.

"Yours academically,

John Prescott."

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