Nick Cohen, George Orwell and Me

31 March 2009

I can’t stay silent on the issue of Nick Cohen’s intervention at the Orwell Prize shotlisting event earlier this week. But I can’t really say too much either as Nick, in an act of over-extravagant loyalty, claimed it was a travesty that I had not made it from the longlist to the shortlist. I have already thanked Nick in person for his kind words.

I have to say it was an honour to be nominated at all and congratulations to all those that made it to the shortlist (including Peters Hitchens and Oborne). But I was disappointed for my fellow former-New Statesman writers Michela Wrong and Lindsey Hilsum who really did deserve to go further.

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Show comments
  • rndtechnologies786

    Nice thought.

  • Gev Pearce

    I agree with William, both Hitchens and Obone are journalists who are willing to really offend the right and left political masters and their controlling mind thought.
    Johann Hari was also a good winner because he tends to offend across the political spectrum.
    Also can we stop this stupid
    ” Brown got Bright the sack nonsense.”
    Bright left the NS along with 5 other journalists, like most editors of papers and periodicals, people come in and out.
    If Brown got rid of Bright then he also got rid of Marcus Howe, who also left the NS at the same time.
    It is as silly as saying that Bright got a job at the Spectator because he did a TV hatchet job of Livingstone.
    Also Cohens rant has more to with the decision of the
    Observer complaints department commentating that Cohen had been taken in by a fraudster and his accusations against the
    Fabians were untrue.
    Bright has been quite on that decision

  • William Gazy

    The prize had been previously awarded to David Aarronovitch, a man Orwell would have despised: a “client journalist” for new Labour and a Blair sycophant. Hitchens and Oborne have been good at fighting Doublethink and deserve to be on the list.

  • Gev Pearce

    The spat between Hitchens and Cohen does show the fight for the direction of the next right wing government.
    On one hand the Cameron wing (Gove, Vaizey, Cohen, Martin Bright, most of Harrys place. Frank Field) who are Thatcherite economically, liberal socially and neo conservative in foreign policy and the paleoconservatives (Hitchens, Obone etc) who are Thatcherite economically, social conservatives and isolationalists.
    As for Cohen’s behaviour it was very funny and slightly sad. To see a man, who is an obvious drunk, act like he did is never a pretty sight. His rant was a cross between a drunk golf club bigot and George Best on Wogan.
    Although I did enjoy the dignified old gentleman who told him to behave.
    As for Cohen’s odious right wing Thatcherite supporters , Harrys Place, Burchill and Chas “I write my own Amazon reviews “ BN there response is laughable.
    Also you Martin “Boris’s pet poodle” Bright thanking Cohen for his rant, shame on you man.
    As Sunny Hindal commented, who can describe Martin Bright as left wing, certainly not by the tone and content of his articles.
    Cohen points out you should be put on the list because of your bravery in saying Lefties, Brown and Livingstone are crap. Sorry Martin, read 90% of the papers and the majority of newspaper columnists are always making that point so you are not an isolated voice. It would probably be brave, whether right or wrong in saying he is doing a good job and go against the main stream.
    Also as a Cohen supporter why did he not mention Iain Dale’s inclusion , perhaps Iain is Cohen’s OK right winger.
    Because Mr Bright you do not like open debate, this post will not be allowed.
    But I will post at other sites

  • Conor

    was this post intended as an April fool?

  • Marbury

    I’m afraid I have some sympathy with the more aggressive commenters on this. First, you announce, rather grandly, that you “can’t stay silent” – then you proceed to say nothing at all.

    If you don’t want to say anything, probably best not to, um, say anything…

  • libsoc

    Cohen also claimed the Staggers sacked him for writing ‘What’s Left’ Clearly drink doesn’t do much for a grasp on reality.

    Also how come Marty doesn’t comment on the Policy Exchange climbdown over the ‘dodgy recepts’. Surely this is worthy of a mention in the Policy Exchange house magazine?

  • Matthew

    Thanks for replying Martin, but your replies are a bit, dare I say, Orwellian, in their lack of clarity. One of your best friends, whilst pissed out of his head, tells the world the PM sacked you, something you think it’s complete hogwash (‘i doubt he even noticed’) but don’t think it’s worthy of comment? It’s a strange world, that of the media, isn’t it?

  • Martin Bright

    Ross — ta very much. And Matthew — I left the New Statesman after three and a half years to pursue other projects. I don’t know if Gordon Brown was happy or sad about it. I doubt he even noticed.

  • Ross

    Well I think it was a good, robust stand taken by Nick and made with an enduring grip of loyalty for you, Martin. I think George Orwell can repose peacefully as, in Nick Cohen and yourself, the tatty pamphlet (now electronic) will continue in good hands.

  • Matthew

    Ok Martin, just so we are clear – do you believe Gordon Brown sacked you?

  • Martin Bright

    Well. Quite a difference of opinion here. Matthew: no this is not an attempt to shame Nick Cohen into apologising — he is one of my best friends, as any street-corner conspiracy theorist will tell you.

    Was I sacked by Gordon Brown? well that’s a question for the Prime Minister.

  • seb

    Is the story concerning Martin Bright’s article on Livingstone correct? If so, it’s more reason to have Brown impeached. And Cohen’s point has some merit. What indeed does a prize commemorating George Orwell have to do with some of the nominees? [They’re splendid chaps, of course. But if Brown has been nobbling a journo, why was this so conveniently ignored?]

  • Matthew

    Also Martin, it’s a little strange to mention this without confirming or denying that you were sacked by Gordon Brown as Nick Cohen claims? Or at least you believe that?

  • Matthew

    Martin, if this is some attempt to shame Nick Cohen into an apology I thik its a bit low.

  • Phil

    It’s not his loyalty that was near-suicidal. Cohen was drunk and made a fool of himself. The fact that he did so while singing the praises of Martin Bright is of secondary interest to those of us who aren’t Martin Bright.

  • seb

    Cohen is right. The cosy self-righteous world that he, rightly, chooses not to believe in or belong to is conformist and heresy-hunting. I see the usual list of suspects has piped up to slate Cohen for his comments. The usual list of adolescent holy people and self-styled sages, that is. The little kiddies who can’t write, aren’t paid to be journalists, haven’t been shortlisted for the Orwell prize, have not published any books and, in addition this long list of achievements to their credit, have haloes perpetually above their crowns from endless spouting of the predictable crud that makes reading the Guardian or watching Jon Snow so hilariously amusing.

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