Tuesday 21 December 2010

Anthony Howard, political journalist, dies at 76.

Anthony Howard, who died on December 19 aged 76, was one of the outstanding political journalists of the past half-century.

His work appeared in most national newspapers and in magazines such as the New Statesman and The Listener, both of which he edited with some success. He appeared regularly on radio and television, where his donnish manner, precise diction, remarkable political recall and somewhat squashed facial features made him a memorable performer.
Many political writers of today probably do not realise the debt they owe to Howard, Henry Fairlie and Bernard Levin, whose pioneering columns in the New Statesman and The Spectator in the late 1950s and early 1960s blew away the cobwebs, clich├ęs and fawning respect which then attached to much political discourse in the press.
Weekly magazines had a more prominent and influential place in journalism than they have today — so much so that a promising young journalist like Howard readily gave up a two-year attachment to The Manchester Guardian, where he shared an office with Michael Parkinson, in favour of joining the Statesman.
He had appeared in the magazine earlier, during his National Service as a second lieutenant in the Royal Fusiliers, when he wrote a series of anonymous columns, heavily critical of the Army, including an account of his reluctant involvement in the Suez campaign.
Their publication caused a minor sensation and almost led to a court martial. A socialist since his school days, he believed that National Service had reinforced Britain’s class divisions.

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