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  • Madeleine Bunting leaving Guardian


    by Sunny
    14th June, 2006 at 4:41 pm    

    Oh crap.

    Madeleine Bunting is leaving the Guardian to become director of thinktank Demos. The Guardian columnist and associate editor, who also wrote for the Catholic magazine Tablet, takes up the post on September 4.

    I’ve always had a soft spot for Ms Bunting even though she’s been too nice at times to people such as Al-Qaradawi, so I don’t view this with delight.


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    1. Leon — on 14th June, 2006 at 4:55 pm  

      Is this story available elswhere? That link requires registering…

    2. Sunny — on 14th June, 2006 at 4:59 pm  

      Here you go:

      ———-

      Stephen Brook, press correspondent
      Wednesday June 14, 2006

      Madeleine Bunting is leaving the Guardian to become director of thinktank Demos.

      The Guardian columnist and associate editor, who also wrote for the Catholic magazine Tablet, takes up the post on September 4.

      “Madeleine is an outstanding person to lead Demos into its next stage of development,” said Andrew Mackenzie, the chair of the Demos trustees.

      “She is a serious, independent and provocative thinker, and a gifted communicator. Her approach to long-term social and political challenges will add greatly to Demos’s wide-ranging intellectual and practical influence.”

      Current director Tom Bentley is moving to Australia to become executive director for policy and cabinet for the premier of Victoria.

      Bunting said she was looking forward to influencing key public debates.

      “Demos is an exciting place to be during the critical and fluid period in British politics which lies ahead.”

    3. Leon — on 14th June, 2006 at 5:16 pm  

      Cheers.:)

    4. David T — on 14th June, 2006 at 9:16 pm  

      Who will we have to kick around now?

      Life will be dull without her.

    5. Chris Stiles — on 14th June, 2006 at 9:50 pm  

      I think she’s been rather foolish on occasion - but her ideals seem to be good - seeming to walk the walk, and she appears to actually put a lot of thought into what she writes.

      Given the current paucity of thought of any kind in the Guardian columns, this is a retrograde step for them - even if it’s probably in Ms Bunting’s best interests.

    6. Shuggy — on 14th June, 2006 at 10:34 pm  

      I hate to strike a sour note (tired and grumpy) but I have little to no regard for Madeline Bunting as a commentator but even less for Demos as a thinktank. They suffer from a form of intellectual adolescance that seems to think innovation per se must be a good thing. Someone should tell them that any originality in their ‘thinking’ lies mainly in the fact that most people aren’t as stupid as to entertain the thoughts they do. It’s ironic then that the arrival of someone as clueless as Our Maddy of the Sorrows actually represents an improvement in the intellectaul status of this so-called ‘thinktank’. It’s certainly a tank. Does Martin Jacques still work for them? He used to. And he used to write for ‘Marxism Today’. Then he wrote articles for the Guardian talking about how society was ‘egg-shaped’. Now his specialist subject is “China’s on the rise so prostrate thyself to the zeitgeist”. He got paid for all of these activities. The Guardian and Demos: Dumb and Dumber.

    7. Amir — on 15th June, 2006 at 2:31 am  

      In homage to Mrs. Bunting’s ‘sad’ departure, I’ve amassed a tasty selection of hyperlinks that capture in pellucid clarity her unmitigated stupidity:

      1. An apologia for suicide bombing

      2. Her apologetics for Iqbal Sacranie

      3. Bunting on Liberalism

      4. Bunting on Capitalism

      5. In praise of complexity

      6. Bunting on the Enlightenment

      7. Bunting and the Sheikh of Death

      8. Bunting and the Sheikh of Death II

      9. No apologies to Bunty

      I, for one, read the Guardianista because I’m a huge fan of Jonathan Freedland, Timothy Garton Ash, and Polly Toynbee. Maddy Baddy Bunting, on the other hand, is a disgrace to the profession.

    8. Refresh — on 15th June, 2006 at 3:00 am  

      Amir, I see the links. But can’t see why you placing them here supports your prejudice.

    9. Amir — on 15th June, 2006 at 3:03 am  

      What??!!

    10. Refresh — on 15th June, 2006 at 3:06 am  

      Should I re-phrase the question?

    11. Amir — on 15th June, 2006 at 3:07 am  

      Yes,… hence the ‘??’ and ‘!!’

    12. Refresh — on 15th June, 2006 at 3:11 am  

      Its late.

      How do the links back up your prejudices? Or do we have to go through each blog - along with their comments?

      So what is it about Bunting you don’t like? Perhaps also what if anything you do?

    13. Amir — on 15th June, 2006 at 3:16 am  

      Chris Styles,

      I think she’s been rather foolish on occasion - but her ideals seem to be good - seeming to walk the walk, and she appears to actually put a lot of thought into what she writes. Given the current paucity of thought of any kind in the Guardian columns, this is a retrograde step for them - even if it’s probably in Ms Bunting’s best interests.

      In which it’s in order to ask you how old you really are - not out of malice, but purely in order to establish how far back your credentials of being a staunch pro-Buntingist actually go. And presumably you’d like to add a rider stating that you are a pro-democrat, given that Madeleine’s friend, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, is fairly non-democratic. I quote:

      …all of the Americans in Iraq are combatants, there is no difference between civilians and soldiers, and one should fight them, since the American civilians came to Iraq in order to serve the occupation. The abduction and killing of Americans in Iraq is a [religious] obligation so as to cause them to leave Iraq immediately.

      And this [On the Jyllands Posten controversy]:

      The nation must rage in anger. It is told that Imam Al-Shafi’ said: “Whoever was angered and did not rage is a jackass.” We are not a nation of jackasses. We are not jackasses for riding, but lions that roar. We are lions that zealously protect their dens, and avenge affronts to their sanctities. We are not a nation of jackasses. We are a nation that should rage for the sake of Allah, His Prophet, and His book. We are the nation of Muhammad, and we must never accept the degradation of our religion…

      And this [on female genital mutilation]

      It is reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to a midwife: “Reduce the size of the clitoris but do not exceed the limit, for that is better for her health and is preferred by husbands”. The hadith indicates that circumcision is better for a woman’s health and it enhances her conjugal relation with her husband. It’s noteworthy that the Prophet’s saying “do not exceed the limit” means do not totally remove the clitoris.

      In any case, most people are uninformed most of the time, and sudden epiphanies are allowable.

    14. Sunny — on 15th June, 2006 at 3:38 am  

      Just because Ms Bunting didn’t ask Qaradawi all the difficult questions (which is admittedly her blind-spot), doesn’t mean she wants to be friends with Qaradawi. She seems to have fallen for the MCB and Islam Channel’s line that he is important, and like Ken Livingstone sees him as a necessary evil.

    15. sonia — on 15th June, 2006 at 10:49 am  

      “most people aren’t as stupid as to entertain the thoughts they do.”

      thoughts that Demos entertain:

      “We believe everyone should be able to make personal choices in their daily lives that contribute to the common good. Our aim is to put this democratic idea into practice by working with organisations in ways that make them more effective and legitimate.”

      You’re right in that most people don’t entertain these thoughts! most people don’t appear to think very much about individual agency at all, and how that relates to democracy. nope most people just accept what politicians tell us about democracy - that we ‘have it’ and that’s the end of discussion there thank you very much.

    16. Old Pickler — on 15th June, 2006 at 1:10 pm  

      I have little to no regard for Madeline Bunting as a commentator but even less for Demos as a thinktank.

      They are a perfect match. Though I think a sceptic tank would be a better home for demented loon Madeleine Bunting than a think tank.

    17. sonia — on 15th June, 2006 at 1:17 pm  

      Demented Loon - why exactly?

    18. Old Pickler — on 15th June, 2006 at 1:51 pm  

      Why? Well, sucking up to Qaradawi, who believes that “improperly dressed women provoke rape”, that wife beating is OK and that gays should be killed, puts her firmly in the demented loon category.

    19. Amir — on 15th June, 2006 at 2:07 pm  

      Sonia,
      Well, for starters, Our Maddy of Sorrows wrote an interesting article for CiF about how the Enlightenment was a ‘social construct’ and how it is used today as a discursive slight-of-hand against Moslems in Europe. Added to this, she is an apologist for ferocious, unreformed Islam and their death-mongering adherents – one of her most recent interviewees was a certain Sheikh al-Qaradawi, who, in recent times, has supported jihad against Israeli non-combatants, urged the re-introduction of a death penalty for homosexuality, compared Jews to apes and pigs, egged on the so-called ‘insurgents’ in Iraq, supported female genital mutilation, and assured Moslem men that it’s okay to ‘admonish’ (i.e. punch/slap) their wives and daughters (which, by the way, is somewhat at odds with Maddy’s devout feminism). And yet, paradoxically, she has never once embraced a respectable Moslem scholar or Islamic organisation – not once. Her polemics against the war in Afghanistan were ridiculously one-sided and never once paid lip-service to the unspeakable brutality of life under the Taliban regime (which again… is somewhat at odds with her devout feminism) – or, for that matter, the dramatic scenes of beard-shaving and celebration in Kabul after the regime collapsed. Her opposition to the Iraq War was less controversial, although the same cannot be said for her shady reticence on the unmitigated evil of Saddam Hussein and the will of the Iraqi people to get rid of him. More generally, her articles on gender, sex and semiotics are all plagiarised/recycled from the post-modern feminism of Judith Butler. There is nothing new or inspiring or enlightening about her so-called ‘provocative’ thinking. It’s mental masturbation for the middle-classes.

      [Another thing: our Maddy of Sorrows is a doughty speaker for the exploited victims of capitalism. But interestingly, of course, she is able to do so with a bumper £150,000 + salary, a luxurious gaff in London, and an all-expenses-paid Harvard PhD. It’s just a shame she didn’t get the opportunity to read this book.]

      In other words… she’s a cheap, dirty polemicist.

    20. Don — on 15th June, 2006 at 2:40 pm  

      Personally I just get annoyed by her sweeping generalisations about the state of ‘western’ culture, presumably based on her observations of her own social circle.

      I don’t need Maddy telling me I am materialistic, superficial, sexually incontinent, spiritually dead, disconnected from a healthy sense of community, lost to all sense of honour, without dignity and blindly driving my worthless life into the mire.

      I can get all that from my mum.

    21. mirax — on 15th June, 2006 at 3:01 pm  

      Many of the Bunting articles are so poorly reasoned (but then again she doesn”t trust rationality, another big western plot to entrap the darkies, you see)and so naive and foolish that I have sometimes wondered if she is taking the piss. One of her last articles about alternative ‘medicine’ being available on the NHS was typically buntingsque - she is very big on taking things on faith and being so openminded that her brains have fallen out. Good riddance.

    22. Don — on 15th June, 2006 at 3:04 pm  

      I remember that one. She was outraged that the medical establishment was an ‘elite’.

    23. Sunny — on 15th June, 2006 at 3:16 pm  

      Awww… she’s lovely!
      Don, you sure she isn’t actually your mum and you’re just trying to pretend you have nothing to do with her? ;)

    24. Amir — on 15th June, 2006 at 3:23 pm  

      Sunny - She seems to have fallen for the MCB and Islam Channel’s line that he is important, and like Ken Livingstone sees him as a necessary evil.

      Oh, pull the other one. Maddy hasn’t fallen for anything or anyone – she’s a Harvard-educated las with a lot more experience than you or I. Why, all of a sudden, are you handling her with kids gloves? Oh, but wait, I’ve forgotten the sacred axiom of left-wing politics… so long as you’re willing to tug the party line, fellow progressives will reciprocate by turning a blind-eye to your hypocrisy. Be that as it may, MCB and the Islam Channel are not fooling anyone. Sheikh Qaradawi is very, very important. He’s one of the most sought-after ‘scholars’ (inverted commas are mandatory) in the world (unfortunately).

      However, the idea that Sheikh Qaradawi is a ‘necessary evil’ (as you put it) is so contemptible in its regard for British Moslems that it borders on the worst kind of Orientalism. If Ken Livingstone really, really wanted a progressive voice to speak up for men and women of the faith, why then didn’t he invite M. A. Muqtedar Khan, Khaled Abou Al-Fadl, Amina Wadud, Abdolkarim Soroush, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Mohsen Kadivar, Shirin Ebadi, or the suave and sophisticated Resa Aslan?

      Now, let me offer you a good counterfactual: Just suppose, for a moment, that Richard Littlejohn interviews Nick Griffin for the Daily Mail. He sees it as a ‘necessary evil’ because white working-class patriots and Middle England voters are feeling more and more alienated and insecure about their English identity. Mr. Littlejohn asks easy A-B-C questions (which, as a result, shows Nick Griffin in a complimentary light), he avoids the tricky ones about skin colour and repatriation, but goes on to sanitise the BNP as a respectable bulwark to political correctness. How would you react Sunny? Huh?

      I think we all know the answer to that. ;-)

    25. Sunny — on 15th June, 2006 at 3:41 pm  

      Please note that I said she has fallen for the MCB/ISlam channel line, not that I happen to agree. Even our friend Ismaeel wouldn’t disagree with you on this.

    26. Amir — on 15th June, 2006 at 3:42 pm  

      Mirax,
      One of her last articles about alternative ‘medicine’ being available on the NHS was typically buntingsque

      Have you ever seen that South Park episode with Cheech & Chong and the alternative medicine guru ‘Miss Information’? It’s so, so funny! And Miss Information is a spitting image of Madeleine Bunting.

    27. Amir — on 15th June, 2006 at 3:46 pm  

      Please note that I said she has fallen for the MCB/ISlam channel line, not that I happen to agree.

      Sunny, take a deep breath and re-read what I’ve written:

      Maddy hasn’t fallen for anything or anyone – she’s a Harvard-educated las with a lot more experience than you or I… MCB and the Islam Channel are not fooling anyone. Sheikh Qaradawi is very, very important. He’s one of the most sought-after ‘scholars’ (inverted commas are mandatory) in the world (unfortunately).

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