Did the Guardian desecrate Leni Farrer’s memory?

Brecon Beacons, Wales, Feb 2008

Brecon Beacons, Wales, Feb 2008

Did the Guardian desecrate Leni Farrer’s memory?

On 26 April Isabell Mackie posted the following to head up the new You Tell Us thread:

I’ve seen from the comments in the last thread that that afancdogge has passed away. I’m very sorry for all who debated with her over the years, and who made a good friend through Cif. If you would like to, we could use this thread to remember Leni. Do post any of your favourite of her comments, or any tributes you have.

Kyushuchaos posted a number of tributes to the late Leni Farrer.

The first was one of Leni’s recent critiques of the direction Comment is Free was taking:

When I first came to CiF long posts and interesting discussions were the norm – I learned a lot in areas I had little experience of and in some cases came to understand why others held views opposed to mine . I might not have come to agree with them but could see why they believed as they did . The aim of the discussion then became to try to bridge the gap .

But – all gone . We seem assailed on all sides by trite nonsense – I say this as someone who values the role of nonsense and silliness in our lives – in addition to the serious and thought arousing . I love the creative and the ponderous both . In short I am disappointed in CiF.


The second post expanded on the range of topics she covered in her contributions and attempted to portray her accurately as a poster with memorable feelings and views, rather than as a too easily forgotten and equally forgettable saint.

“I posted a eulogy to the late Leni Farrer who for over five years posted seriously and perceptively on Comment is Free as afancdogge. No one should allow their own sentimentality and prejudice to try to remove that characteristic from the contribution she made. Here she is in February of this year, reflecting, on the detrimental effect of Twitter’s 140 character limit and what she felt was the demise of long posts and interesting discussions. Reflecting was something Leni Farrer did particularly well.

I have more or less given up – I look in here each day to see if anything worth supporting has been suggested . Not that it makes much difference – it seems the agenda is already set. Wanting to read more than than 140 characters about a subject – any subject – is probably connected to the fact that you are a literate thinking being. Still – the cost of education for the masses will be reduced as the workaday vocabulary is reduced to monosyllables, grunts and text speak.

Gove will be pleased . Leni

In her early days on CiF right up to the election of the current government, her posts were mainly about the conflict between Israel and Palestine and the wider Middle East.

She was a firm supporter of the Palestinians although this never diverted her from displaying the even handedness and the need for compromise that others remember and have commented on. Look back for instance at her exchanges with AKUS and monmassoud. Here she is in January 2009:

We need a non partisan peace movement, here, in Israel and Palestine which will attract a broad body of support which actively works towards peace without demonising either peoples, which combats exremism and which recognises the history and culture of both.

But she also posted about religion, from her perspective as a pagan, philosophy, economics and the environment. Here she is last year:

On Saturday I posted a SUGGESTION that we talk about small things – invertebrates. Insects, worms etc. They constitute 80% of species 20% of which are endangered . Earthworms and pollinating insects are vital for agriculture – and our gardens . Their value to humings in monetary terms runs into the billions. 

Neither was she a sentimental, uncritical, supporter of the Welfare State and the benefits system as she demonstrated in her response to Joseph Harker’s plea for the continuation of the principle of universality, when Osborne announced the end of child benefit for all:

Do you expect me to sympathise with you because you cannot pay for swimming lesons for your children despite earning in excess of £40.,000 pa ? Yur child benefit for 5 children must be the eqivalent to or more than unemployment benefit. Perhaps you can take comfort fom the fact that some childen here in Britain are in receipt of food parcels from charity to ensure their well being whilst many will be forced to move out of their current rented home as HB is cut ……Your selfish response to your own perceived ‘loss’ has made me very angry – but has confirmed my view that those who are happy to scapegoat the sick and unemployed have absolutely no understanding whatsoever of the meaningof poverty and deprivation. 

From April 2010 when it became clear that Labour’s reign was about to end she increasingly posted here on You Tell Us and before it What Do You Want to Talk About?, which is where I expect most will have come to know her.

People should remember her, but they should do so for the right reasons.”

This was a fitting tribute to Leni Farrer and was initially posted on the previous You Tell Us thread. But that thread closed within  three hours and as such, kyushuchaos accepted Isabella Mackie’s invitation and posted it again on the next YTU thread, for those who might not have seen it.

So why was it then deleted by the moderators?