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Episode cast overview:
Melanie Phillips Melanie Phillips ... Herself - Interviewee
Peter Slen Peter Slen ... Himself - Interviewer


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Release Date:

5 May 2013 (USA) See more »

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C-SPAN See more »
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Zeal of the convert
12 May 2019 | by GoingbeggingSee all my reviews

By titling her memoirs 'Guardian Angel', Melanie Phillips has pre-empted the ridicule that commonly greets that sneering term for a liberal thinker. For she is the liberal thinker who got mugged by reality, moving from her job as News Editor of the Guardian to the other extreme, the right-wing tabloid Daily Mail, middle-Britain fodder, grounded in reality, as she came to realise. Like a plague-nurse, she needed to survive the disease of socialism in order to become immune to it. And her conversion has left her zealous indeed.

She talks fondly and respectfully of her Jewish upbringing, whose sensible disciplines show up unmistakably in her speech and manner (spoilt by just one hippie giveaway, the habit of repeating "And you know what?"). Her choice of journalism as a career seems to have been a quest for truth, something she values deeply. It was her feeling that truth was being compromised by the hard-left arguments of her Guardian colleagues - starting with a belief, and then looking around for evidence that might fit it - that caused her to cross the floor.

Whether or not because of her racial background, she reserves special loathing for the 'theocratic authority' of Islam, whipping-up anti-Jewish feeling in order to distract attention from abuses like FGM, among many others (though she admits that many muslims are not islamists). Thus 'Londonistan', nothing less than a terrorist state within.

Again, perhaps with a rear-mirror glance at her own good schooling, she despairs at a teaching culture that dismisses grammar as racist, or demonstrates sexual positions to nine-year olds, along with entry-level drug lessons, turning-out premature adults whose childhood has been fatally denied them.

In a rather puzzling short passage, she mentions two separations that have caused her grief: one from her own family and one from her political family. We are left to interpret these for ourselves (or buy the book, of course!). Presumably the first would have been something to do with her student-rebel phase. And the second would have been her resignation from the Guardian, leaving many friends who would be friends no longer. Still, she hasn't given up on truth-seeking. She tells us that she is optimist enough to believe that truth eventually wins, and the tyrants will be overthrown.

Meanwhile it is not just 'Guardian Angel' that gets a 3-hour free plug, but her other eight books too, since all of them relate to her life-story - each of the front-covers given generous exposure (free advertising, but why not?), while the unseen phone-in callers are making their contribution under the admirably tight supervision of Peter Slen.

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