Guardian Editor MIKE LEWIS on the latest round of the newspaper’s ongoing dispute with Carmarthenshire county council
6:20am Wednesday 12th December 2012 in News
THE Guardian’s lone stand against Carmarthenshire county council has been described by one political commentator as David v Goliath.
Yes, the odds are uneven but, in all honesty, we never wanted a fight.
Surely, in these times of austerity it is in the interests of everyone to pull together?
But County Hall’s response to our hard-hitting editorial of September 19 criticising their now-notorious Sainsbury’s press release was to pull all advertising - a move which has cost us around £9,000 - despite a full page right-to-reply.
To describe this as a thirdrate decision by a third-rate local authority would be an insult to all those hardworking frontline county council employees (many of whom are Guardian readers) who help keep our county up and running.
The Guardian has nothing but respect for them - but we do have a problem with a regime which acts like some Eastern bloc state from the 1960s.
The most depressing aspect of all this is that the council continues to spend thousands of pounds on two local papers from a rival group.
TheGuardian, meanwhile, is punished for speaking its mind. I suspect that even people who don’t read or don’t particularly care for us will be alarmed by this sinister turn of events.
We cannot give in to this pressure, because when a local paper gives up its freedom to criticise, a key plank of local democracy has gone.
Should this be allowed to happen? That is the question all county councillors, regardless of their political colours, should be considering today.
Nowis the time to stand up and be counted.
I can’t help wondering what that Amman Valley political legend Jim Griffiths – a fearless champion of the underdog and passionate supporter of free speech – would have made of all this.
He must be spinning in his grave.