Sunday, December 19, 2010

Anthony Howard has died

I am very sorry to hear that Anthony Howard has died. As I recalled back in 2005, I learnt a tremendous amount from the New Statesman under his editorship:
When I was in the sixth form I used to hurry down to Preedy's after school on Fridays to buy their only copy of the New Statesman. I usually got it, though I do recall missing out on the controversial issue produced to mark the Queen's Silver Jubilee. In those days before Princess Di and the royals' sell out to celebrity culture, it was still controversial to attack the monarchy.

For my 25p I got a leading article on the front page (which seemed terribly grown up), James Fenton's witty political commentary on page 2 and a Garland cartoon on page 3. Though I was pretty sure by then that I was a liberal and not a socialist, there was an awful lot to enjoy in the Statesman.
For that reason it meant a lot to me to write for a column for the magazine's website for a while. Now the magazine is unreadable to anyone not steeped in Labour's internal politics, which is much what happened to it after Howard gave up as editor in 1978.

The Daily Telegraph quotes Donald Trelford as saying:
"Tony had a prodigious memory for political anecdotes which stood him in good stead in later years as a book reviewer. He was an excellent editor of the New Statesman and The Listener and, if the timing of his career had been more fortunate, he should have edited a national newspaper."

1 comment:

Iain Sharpe said...

Yes sad news indeed. Howard was that rare thing - a serious journalist of the left who didn't take himself too seriously.

It makes me wonder, though, whether the Staggers is only ever a good read under a Labour government, when it has to confront the realities and compromises of power. Unlike in the 1990s it's not Labour's internal struggles but an all-consuming hatred of the Lib Dems and the coalition that is making it a very heavy read just now.