Since its inception in Manchester in 1821 as a response to the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, the Guardian has been a key institution in the definition and development of liberalism. The stereotype of the ‘Guardianista’, an environmentally-conscious, Labour-voting, progressively-minded public sector worker endures in the popular mythology of British press history. Yet the title has a complex lineage and occupies an equivocal position between capital and its opponents.
It has both fiercely defended the need for fearless, independent journalism and handed over documents and hard drives to the authorities; it has carved out a niche for itself in the UK media as a progressive voice but has also consistently diminished more radical projects on the left. Published to coincide with its 200th anniversary, Capitalism’s Conscience brings together historians, journalists and activists in an appraisal of the Guardian’s contribution to British politics, society and culture – and its distinctive brand of centrism. Contextualising some of the main controversies in which the title has been implicated, the book offers timely insights into the publication’s history, loyalties and political values.
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