'People Push Bottles Up Peaceniks'

July 2003

Dear Reader

My last column for The People appeared on June 8th. It was a sad day for me and for the Welsh Princess.

I've been writing the column for more than ten years but I resigned (and gave three months notice) at the end of March after the paper refused to print articles I had written questioning the morality of the invasion of Iraq. I resigned because I feel that freedom of speech is a crucial part of our democracy. If we can't criticise the Government then we don't have any more of a democracy than the Iraqis had.

My book, People Push Bottles Up Peacniks (available in the Web shop on this site), explains exactly what happened and why I think the paper was wrong. Among other things, I've included two articles that were banned and a list of astonishing facts about the war which I don't think you saw in The People. I've also described how I think The People marginalised readers who dared oppose the war.

But the book is about much, much more than the way The People dealt with the war against Iraq. There are, for example, details of how an article I had written about an NHS scandal was replaced at the last moment with an article praising the NHS - written by Government minister Jack Straw. Changes were made to the column without my knowledge or approval. As a reader (or former reader) of The People I think you will find the book revealing. This is my true, inside story about The People. It's the story of how my love for the paper was destroyed and it's about censorship. If you believe in free speech and democracy I hope you'll read it.

With best wishes

Vernon Coleman

Vernon Coleman

P.S. Sadly, the editor wouldn't even allow me to print a goodby note to People readers. The columns just 'stopped' three weeks before my contract ended. Although there was nothing I could do about this I apologise for what seems to me to be discourtesy. It seems to me that when you have been a visitor in readers' homes for over a decade, a 'thank you and goodbye' note is simply good manners. The editor didn't see it that way.

P.P.S. The title is a tribute to a double-meaning Daily Mirror headline from the Second World War. The headline then was 'British Army Push Bottles Up Germans'.

Copyright Vernon Coleman 2003