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    Is Nick Cohen scared of us?

    by Sunny on 9th June, 2009 at 10:33 am    

    A bizarre story has reached me. So you’ll remember that a couple of months ago a group of us published a letter in the Observer newspaper taking issue with what its columnist Nick Cohen had said. Just do a search for ‘Cohen’ on this blog and you’ll find the background.

    Anyway, Nick Cohen pretended then he was quite unperturbed by it all. But it doesn’t seem like it. One of the signatories to the letter was Professor Tariq Modood from Bristol University. Nick Cohen was attending some event not long after, and Tariq was interviewing him about Nick’s new book. I’m told Nick went as far as contacting the organisers and telling them he wasn’t happy about Tariq interviewing him. This was raised with the latter, who said he was still happy to interview Nick. Nick then came back and said he still wasn’t happy though he’d leave the final decision to them. This is the version of events related to me. If it’s different then Nick is free to correct me.

    But it isn’t particularly nice is it? It looks like Nick Cohen now has a chip on his shoulder about the whole letter incident and is willing to make his annoyance known in such a way. In the end Tariq withdrew from chairing the event thanks to Nick’s discomfort.

    Remember, during the whole controversy, Martin Bright had suggested our letter in the Observer wanted Nick Cohen removed as a columnist. Of course it wasn’t. But now it looks like the shoe is on the other foot and Nick Cohen is going around expressing his displeasure when signatories to the letter are sharing a platform with him. It all sounds very cowardly and I’m actually surprised Nick that far. Sounds exactly like the sort of thing Martin Bright was accusing us of. I wonder what he’d have to say about this episode.

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    24 Comments below   |   Add your own

    1. Nina — on 9th June, 2009 at 11:02 am  

      Very little I should think. These guys aren’t the brightest knives in the kitchen drawer. There’s a tendency to forget that free speech applies across the board rather than simply to the ‘threatened’ journalist by those who were working in the centre left commentariat that have inched right.

    2. Pete — on 9th June, 2009 at 11:44 am  

      Now, now children - fight nicely.

      Or grow up….

      It’s up to you and has been for a while now.

    3. cjcjc — on 9th June, 2009 at 11:57 am  

      There’s a difference between sharing a platform with an opponent and being interviewed by an opponent.

      But of course the letter was not a threat - he should find another column to write meant find another record to play - didn’t it??

    4. Refresh — on 9th June, 2009 at 12:45 pm  

      He is running scared, and so should Martin Bright.

      They’ve blown their credibility, their only hope of getting the agenda back on track is to see Obama off the scene.

    5. Faisal (The Spittoon) — on 9th June, 2009 at 1:09 pm  

      This is mutual masturbation without the reciprocation, isn’t it? :D

    6. Sunny — on 9th June, 2009 at 1:31 pm  

      There’s a difference between sharing a platform with an opponent and being interviewed by an opponent.

      Are you endorsing what he did cjcjc?

    7. Leon — on 9th June, 2009 at 1:51 pm  


      Sunny you make a couple of rather big assumptions here. One that he’s scared, this might be just common sense. Why would anyone want to be interviewed by someone who could be that hostile?

      Two, that he’s going around with this stuff. You’ve just described hearsay, freely admitting it might not be true then used that as a the basis for the notion it might have happened more than once.

      This leads me back to…your frankly odd compulsion to waste energy on such a busted flush, politically in terms of Euston, lefty neo cons etc, as Cohen.

      We’ve won, they lost. Let’s move on and do something constructive with our time eh? ;)

    8. cjcjc — on 9th June, 2009 at 2:39 pm  

      Well it seems a bit cowardly but he didn’t threaten to walk out or anything.

    9. Sunny — on 9th June, 2009 at 3:40 pm  

      Well it seems a bit cowardly but he didn’t threaten to walk out or anything.

      He just pre-empted it. Neocons like pre-emption. ;)

    10. cjcjc — on 9th June, 2009 at 3:57 pm  

      If it makes you feel any better we saw NC at the Edinburgh Book Festival I think it was two years ago, after which my partner told me off for booking such a boring event!

    11. douglas clark — on 9th June, 2009 at 11:43 pm  

      I have the feeling that this iteration of Nick Cohen is just a spasm in the demise of the good Nick Cohen.

      It all went wrong over Iraq, didn’t it? And there was no way back after that.

      It is all very sad.

    12. Anon — on 10th June, 2009 at 6:32 am  

      Perhaps it’s just that Cohen feels at a disadvantage being interviewed by someone who is sober.

    13. douglas clark — on 10th June, 2009 at 8:50 am  


      Well, if you knew, deep in your heart, that you’d sold out your principles, and the bottle is staring you in the face, you too might ask:

      “What’s Left?”

    14. douglas clark — on 10th June, 2009 at 9:05 am  

      One of the basic criteria of R2P - responsibilty to protect - is that whatever action is taken must be judged against inaction. Are we going to make things worse by intervening, y’know against measures like loss of life, etc? It seems to me that the general public, in the UK at least, made that call - perhaps without even knowing they were doing it - whereas apologists for state authority didn’t or couldn’t.

      Democracy, the neo-cons fig leaf, ain’t a lot of use if you are dead.

      Judged against that measure they have completely ruined any intervention on humanitarian grounds. That, sadly, is their legacy.

    15. Rumbold — on 10th June, 2009 at 9:08 am  

      I agree with Leon and others. Not sure why you would want to be interviewed by someone who tried to get you sacked, as such an interview would boost the interviewer’s profile.

    16. halima — on 10th June, 2009 at 9:21 am  

      I imagine the professional circles Nick Cohen and Tariq Modood work in are quite small - and sooner or later, one or the other would be involved in each other’s networks. Tariq is probably interviewing a number of people on the relevant topic , you might have to engage with people who are your critics. Seems professional to me.

    17. platinum786 — on 10th June, 2009 at 1:07 pm  

      I think you should offer him a fight sunny. Obviously legit and all that. Like a boxing match or MMA. We could get it televised, sponsored, all proceeds go to charity.

    18. Shamit — on 10th June, 2009 at 1:34 pm  

      No charity mate — we (ie PP and its regulars) should get the money.

      I think Sunny vs Nick would draw in a big crowd. Are punches allowed or just words?

    19. platinum786 — on 10th June, 2009 at 1:49 pm  

      ^^^ What kind of MMA matches have you been watching?

      This isnt WWE were they’ll stand around slicked up in oil and fake tan wearing underpants and boots and exchange insults over the mike, no, it’s all about cage rage!

    20. Ravi Naik — on 10th June, 2009 at 1:51 pm  

      That would sort out Nick Cohen. Now, how would we get Sunny to stop talking about Mad Mel? :)

    21. platinum786 — on 10th June, 2009 at 1:59 pm  

      A fight?

    22. cjcjc — on 10th June, 2009 at 3:23 pm  

      We need to get the BBC to arrange an “extreme” (or these days I suppose it would be Xtreme) Question Time.

      Fantasy panel to include eg:

      Nick Griffin
      Anjem Choudhary
      Melanie Phillips

    23. Refresh — on 10th June, 2009 at 3:48 pm  

      With that panel, its got to be billed as the Moral Daze.

    24. bananabrain — on 10th June, 2009 at 4:15 pm  

      furthermore, i don’t think mel deserves to be lumped in with anjem choudary, let alone nick griffin. i think the lefties are having a lack-of-perspective episode.


      with that said, do think “extreme question time” might be quite fun. i think we need to get george galloway, christopher hitchens, richard dawkins and oh, i don’t know, what about rabbi yitzchok shochet? i pretty much detest whatever he comes out with.



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