When I saw the recent editorial in the London newspaper The Guardian announcing a change of policy on republicanism, my immediate reaction was to assume that realism now prevailed in the editorial office.
I told a close friend. He laughed. “It’s just an April Fool’s day joke,” he said. " The Guardian is not what it once was."
“It couldn't be,” I said. “The Guardian is a serious newspaper- one of the leading centre-left papers in the world. " They would never use their editorial for such a cheap, infantile joke.”
I quoted the newpaper's great editor CP Scott’s famous aphorism “Comment is free; facts are sacred.”
I said " A newspaper of that standing would never use their editorial for such a cheap, infantile joke – especially one on such a serious issue as the constitution."
In brief, I gave The Guardian's editor the benefit of the doubt.
Once known as the Manchester Guardian, under CP Scott's leadership it was to become one of the leading newspapers in the UK and the world.
But about a decade or so ago The Guardian became distracted by an elitist interest in changing the United Kingdom into the UK republic. (About the same time it was accused of adopting an anti-Israel and even anti- Semitic bias in reporting news from the Middle East.)
The newspaper even went to court to challenge – unsuccessfully – the law relating to the succession to the throne. It poured resources into a special section meant to provide ammunition to end the monarchy. It failed, miserably.
This agenda of the new elites does not seem to keep readers. I remember once in the Cotswolds on a Sunday morning seeing piles of free copies of The Guardian and The Observer – completely ignored by passersby, except for this Australian.
I went to a nearby café and read them. Not one person followed my example.
Republicanism – but only in the sense of getting rid of the monarchy – became, as it so often does with inner city elites, a consuming obsession.
(We saw that in the referendum in Australia when newspapers and TV went overboard in trying to persuade the nation to vote Yes. Even the serious outlets lost a sense of dignity and proportion. The national newspaper, The Australian, tried to get its readers to paste vote Yes stickers on car bumper bars.)
The point today is that the 13% support for a republic in the recent Yougov poll demonstrates that The Guardian's obsession is not carrying the country. They probaly never will.
So with the editorial, it seemed to me that The Guardian was returning to the position the newspaper had endorsed for most of its history, especially under the great editors which made it what it is.
It would return to its allegiance to the throne.
This was when The Guardian was a real advocate of the interests of the working and middle classes of the United Kingdom and beyond, no longer the voice of the elites.
I put an extract from the editorial on this site. But within hours I had to take it down. This was when I saw that their new blog on the Royal Wedding was being crammed with the most infantile material.
I reported this to the friend who had warned me that the editorial was a joke. I asked him if he expected another referendum. He would not rule it or a plebiscite out, even in the current Parliament.
As to The Guardian I realise I was wrong to have credited its current leadership with the qualities of those great editors who have given it the status it enjoys today.
CP Scott must be looking down, shaking his head.