Peter Preston

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Full name: Peter Preston

Area of interest: political & social issues, media, film, foreign affairs, journalism, press freedom

Journals/Organisation: The Guardian | The Observer


Personal website:


Blog: the blog arts & entertainment





Education: Loughborough Grammar School and St John's College, Oxford

Career: The Guardian, reporter, diarist, features editor 1963/1975, editor 1975/1995, editor-in-chief (The Guardian and The Observer) 1995, Guardian Media Group, editorial director 1996

Current position/role: Editorial director of the Guardian Media Group, Columnist

Other roles/Main role:

Other activities: Member of the Scott Trust, 1979/2003; served on the Press Complaints Commission; The International Press Institute Chairman, 1995/1997; Chairman of the Association of British Press Editors


Viewpoints/Insight: British Journalism Review: How not to defend your source Vol. 16, No. 3, 2005, pages 47-52

Broadcast media:

Video: extensive radio broadcast experience




In connection with the investigative reporting into the affairs of Conservative MPs Jonathan Aitken and Neil Hamilton while he was the editor of The Guardian, see:

Other: Ben Preston, his son, is deputy editor of The Times

Books & Debate:

Peter Preston 51st State.jpg

Latest work:


Current debate:Is it right to be intervening in Libya's struggle for freedom?, The Observer debate: Peter Preston and Abdelkader Benali argue for and against military action in North Africa. Plus a range of other opinions from experts, 27th March 2011

The Guardian:

Column name:

Remit/Info: political and social issues, foreign affairs, current affairs

Section: Comment

Role: Columnist



Website: / Peter Preston

Commissioning editor:

Day published: Monday

Regularity: Weekly

Column format:

Average length:

Articles: 2017

Articles: 2016

Articles: 2014

Articles: 2012

Articles: 2011

Articles: 2010

  • Coalition's travel sickness - Whizzy notions Michael Gove and co like to import from abroad won't work in the UK because we don't get the full story - 27th December
  • The bloodied heralds of politics - As Tom Baldwin shows, spin doctors themselves are part of the message – and in the firing line too - 20th December
  • Climate change: human numbers don't add up - The best way to cut emissions is to have fewer babies – but you won't find it in the Cancún bulletin, or any politician's vision - 13th December
  • Radiating happiness in the freeze - Not long ago, winter was almost as cold inside as out. Now life without central heating is unimaginable - 6th December
  • Train travel: First among equals - It's dotty to find a class system on the railway tracks – sustained by taxpayers' money - 29th November
  • It's braver to quit Afghanistan now - If the date for withdrawal from Afghanistan is fixed at the end of 2014 then our soldiers may be dying for nothing - 22nd November
  • Ditch the Falklands - It makes no economic or political sense to hang on to the Falklands, but no one will face the truth - 15th November
  • Nuclear bang too big for our buck - If France and the UK can share warheads and a sea rota, why have seven nuclear subs between us? - 7th November
  • Time for the old to stick up for the young - Pensioners like me are being shielded from cuts. It is wrong, and we must find a way to protest - 1st November
  • Roy of the ragers - Feted in May, baited now. The treatment of Roy Hodgson is a parable of these intemperate times - 25th October
  • Pinochet's legacy - Chile's economic and democratic success is the result of a gutted society which needs to unite - 18th October
  • Insanity of the Afghan endgame - A soldier's death brings more grief and anger at the folly of young lives being lost in Afghanistan - 11th October
  • Be wary of the walkout - Made in Dagenham is a warm tale of success. But few striking workers will have the upper hand now - 4th October
  • Quangos: our civic belt and braces - Many quangos may be unnecessary but this cull will lead to some utterly predictable disasters - 27th September
  • When misery is a legacy - Armenia shows what happens if a nation becomes trapped in the past and cannot move on - 20th September
  • Real news is not about rigid formulas - News is diverse, local, opinionated and interactive – and it needs to be allowed to breathe - 18th September
  • We are not a world service - The BBC and the Foreign Office are locked in talks over the future of the World Service. Some savings should be simple - 13th September
  • How reform lost its allure - Politicians vote today on the AV referendum – where on earth did all the early enthusiasm go? - 6th September
  • Pakistan is not the target; deal fixers are - Cricket needs to use its TV-generated fortune to strike at the root of the match-fixing problem - 30th August
  • The day I lost my grandson - It was a scary moment, in between the ghost train and the Zipper Dipper – and then it went online - 23rd August
  • Cursed by the Bhuttos - The whole subcontinent is in thrall to dynasties, but it's Pakistan's that really takes the biscuit - 16th August
  • Sarah Ferguson: a royal opportunity - The duchess faces bankruptcy – this is our chance to get the Firm's spending under control - 9th August
  • Islamabad's storm clouds - Cameron can't blunder on Pakistan. Its troubles and role in terror make Afghanistan a sideshow - 2nd August
  • University: learning to enjoy life - Witnessing the hope of a graduation day, I remember that education is about more than sweat and debt - 26th July
  • Back to square one in Afghanistan - As polls on the ground show, Afghans know full well what their future holds – and it doesn't involve us - 19th July
  • Freedom temples totter - Many post-Soviet nations have lost their way on the road to democracy. And no one seems to care - 12th July
  • Cut off before their prime - In football, age matters little – only winning and losing count. Why can't it be the same for politicians? - 5th July
  • A backbench prince - If only Charles had gone into politics. He'd have been a natural wet, and perfect lobby fodder - 28th June
  • BP's theatre of the absurd - The bumbling PR gaffes of the oil firm's chief are just distractions from the real disaster in the Gulf - 21st June
  • A return to old Europe - The union is stalling. To restore momentum, the EU needs critically to re-engage Turkey - 14th June
  • Of snouts and troughs - When it comes to comparing wages, even doctors can be made to look guilty - 7th June
  • Vietnam, minus the jungle - In Afghanistan all the US has learned across four barren decades is how to pursue a purposeless war - 31st May
  • Privacy on parade - Is the sexual tendency of a supreme court nominee off limits – or do we let the blogosphere decide? - 17th May
  • A hero from Harrods - Let's celebrate the man who revealed the slime beneath the surface of political life - 10th May
  • School heads put to the test - Teachers who oppose Sats should use the ballot box, not wrecking crews - 3rd May
  • MP numbers should not be cut - David Cameron's idea for fewer honourable members might win some cheers, but it shrinks democracy - 25th April (Cif at the polls)
  • Doing the CEO sums - Cameron is reviving the past with his plan to limit public sector pay. But were we happier then? - 12th April
  • Life beyond miracles - The Vatican debacle isn't politics with a holy twist, or archbishops sniping at each other. Faith itself is in crisis - 5th April
  • Spell out the pain - As Britain's politicians try to fudge what cuts mean, US voters are involved in making the grim choices - 29th March
  • MPs stuck in the lobbyist mire - It is 16 years since the MPs' cash-for-questions scandal but standards in public life still fall short - 22nd March
  • Pay up for that Pepsi - Instead of a blanket hike on VAT, a targeted tax on fizzy drinks could raise money and save lives - 15th March
  • Wanted: an eco prophet - People are drifting into a lethal slumber on climate change. More of the same won't wake them up - 8th March
  • A world away from Texas - There are calls for Oregon, Washington and British Columbia to split from the US and Canada. Cascadia is not a bad idea - 1st March
  • The sorry business - For all the talk of privacy and principles, Tiger Woods and co are driven by value rather than values - 22nd February
  • Mandarins in the margins - The advice of worldly, well-educated Foreign Office diplomats is simply being ignored - 15th February
  • Animal instincts - Having pets is character forming and a natural part of growing up, but - boy! – it can weigh you down - 8th February
  • The phoney peace-seekers - From Northern Ireland to Nicosia, we talk about a 'process' but the divides remain as deep as ever - 1st February
  • In defence of box-ticking - It may be unfashionable to say so, but targets have repeatedly been shown in fact to work - 25th January
  • A fearful lack of proportion - In airports and battlefields the west pursues security with no regard for the cost to citizens of foreign lands - 18th January
  • Slushy indecision - Why did schools take wildly different decisions about the snow? Because Ed Balls passed the buck - 11th January
  • A patchwork of personality - We are all imperfectly human. So how can centralised structures be imposed so rigidly on us? - 4th January

Articles: 2009

  • Still a special relationship - British leaders will continue clinging to the US, for fear of what a break-up would expose - 28th December
  • Grouches of the season - If there's one thing worse than a Christmas e-card, it's having the real ones delivered by a 'postie' - 21st December
  • The Excess Factor - TV programmes, films and even politics these days are swollen with inordinate repetition - 14th December
  • The rewards of banking - Not everyone in the City is purely driven by cash. Camaraderie, loyalty and self-respect live there too - 7th December
  • The Sarah Palin peculiarity - The UK press can't get enough of America. Are we becoming the 51st state by online osmosis? - 30th November
  • Welcome to Albania - We may be smug about the EU in the west, but for the troubled Balkans it offers a vision of hope - 23rd November
  • A dream, not an exit plan - Hopes of a strong Afghan army are unrealistic. Just look at the efforts of one devious ruler in Pakistan - 16th November
  • The touchline timeline - Just as in my childhood, winning or losing together remains a basic lesson on the great field of life - 9th November
  • The climate of fear - Unless our leaders take radical action, global warming could usher in the far-right strongmen - 2nd November
  • Unanswered question time - In a value-free world, it's no surprise there is so little agreement on who won the BNP debate - 26th October
  • In praise of targets - Cameron wants the local voice back in charge. But top-down targets work – as even the Times admits - 19th October
  • A military cross to bear - By enlisting ex-army chief Dannatt to advise them, the Tories are playing a foolish and costly game - 12th October
  • Obama's war: a huge decision awaits - The president can't wait much longer to choose his Afghan strategy, and either option will be painful - 5th October
  • Ireland writes its own story - As it votes once more on the Lisbon treaty, the British have a lot to learn from this unique land - 28th September
  • Gongs and glass ceilings - Dividing lines of distrust and fear turn Baroness Scotland's Tongan maid victim in a trice - 21st September
  • A restraint too far - Calls for a ban on alcohol advertising are wide of the mark. We need more education and persuasion - 14th September
  • Silence is purposeless - Skulking away from a TV debate with the BNP won't help dispel public distrust of democracy - 7th September
  • James Murdoch was right - We need a civilised discussion, not an Edinburgh shouting match, in order to start finding media solutions - 31st August
  • The problem is people, not football - The trouble at the West Ham v Millwall match isn't football's fault – it's back because our surly, divided society is back - 27th August
  • Care and chorizo - My son-in-law's isolated home village in Galicia is a lesson in the true meaning of community - 24th August
  • Change is the enemy - Decades of meddling have shown clearly that politicians should keep out of the classroom - 17th August
  • A toothless argument - The success of Britain's anti-fluoride brigade is a dismal commentary on a rigid, embattled nation - 10th August
  • Eta's empty message - Spain must remain sane in the face of this Basque separatist madness - 3rd August
  • Off with their lordships - Just because No 10 wants a little expert help is no reason to grant outsiders a lifetime in ermine - 27th July
  • Wiz woz for a wowzer - My Dad died many years ago, but his bizarre and comical everyday sayings live irrepressibly on - 20th July
  • Enough. This senseless folly in Afghanistan must stop - Our soldiers are dying in a false, hopeless war. The true battle for security is about hearts and minds in Pakistan - 13th July
  • Defensive errors - When an official at the MoD makes a duff call, the system ensures that no one takes the blame - 6th July
  • The currency of high office - The prime minister's big payday will come after No 10. So it is futile to use his salary as a public sector yardstick - 29th June
  • Ireland's EU balancing act - The Conservatives would do well to look to Dublin for a way to deal with the question of Europe - 22nd June
  • A terrorist source - Threats made by the Real IRA give a new focus to one of the sharpest dilemmas for the press - 15th June 2009
  • Masochism at 36,000ft - Ryanair's boss may eff, blind and charge us to use the loo, but we keep coming back for more - 8th June
  • Cameron's dystopia - Winged to power in 2010, the Tory leader enacts his EU referendum pledge. And all hell breaks loose... - 1st June
  • Reasons to be hopeful - After years of failure, Pakistan's leaders are starting to expose the Taliban for what they are - 25th May
  • Rewrite lobbying rules - A new politics: We need greater transparency on members' interests and, most of all, independent scrutiny – and no more self-policing - 20th May
  • Devolution's halfway house - From Basques to Scots, the best-laid plans for independence are being startlingly shredded - 18th May
  • A web of destruction - Be it our high streets, our newspapers or the climate, the internet is ruining the way we live - 11th May
  • Playing the game - Tory plans for schools ignore the role of top class management. Just look at Guus Hiddink - 4th May
  • Dark side of the road - Reducing speed limits would save lives and £19bn a year. So why is the debate so cluttered? - 27th April
  • The fantastic fist of Fox - Rupert Murdoch's US news channel thrives by trading in rage, the easy mood of the moment - 20th April
  • A quagmire of indecision - Islamabad is desperate for support in its civil war against the Taliban - it needs help from India - 14th April
  • Trust: a bank worth saving - The shambles over expenses has caused a deadly serious crisis of faith. Brown needs to act - 6th April
  • Let them eat rum babas - The system for charging VAT on food makes no sense. And it encourages unhealthy eating - 30th March
  • A nod and wink won't suffice - The days of the quiet regulator, in politics or finance, are over: the acrid stench from Wall Street to Parliament Square is sickening - 23rd March
  • Government up to scratch - The problem of children's head lice ought to be discussed in Whitehall as well as at the school gates - 16th March
  • Is the peace process derailed? - Violence will only be resurgent in Northern Ireland if the community that shields recidivist IRA cells allows them shelter - 9th March
  • An eternity of celluloid - Cinema's gift to future generations will be the indelible stories it has to tell about today - 2nd March
  • Bismarckian board games - The partition of Cyprus resulted from the lazy certainty that, time and again, separation works - 16th February
  • Goodbye, posh scallops - The recession is proving a great gastronomic leveller, as high street takeaways can testify - 9th February
  • Truckling to the Taliban - Pakistan's 1.4m military shies away from fighting the extremists. It must show whose side it's on - 2nd February
  • Idiocy, by the book - Denying the Gaza appeal airtime is in line with potty BBC regulations that exalt 'impartiality' - 26th January
  • Straight shooting - Politicians who refuse to duck and dive when faced with a hard question get a rough ride from the media - 19th January
  • Working the people - Politicians' lives are all stress and toil, so they tell us. It might be beneficial if they cut their hours - 5th January

Articles: 2008

  • Spin and plots don't work in a post-debate age - Tub-thumping front pages are getting in the way of the good stories - 25th April
  • The gloom boom - There's nothing like a recession to encourage a super-evasion of the super-obvious - 30th December 2008
  • Looking after number one - Green campaigners can't beat the self-interest lobby in a referendum over congestion charges - 22nd December 2008
  • Espionage and corgis - BBC writers may struggle to find suitably ludicrous plotlines for another Spooks series. Try these - 15th December 2008
  • Back inside the big tent - Obama echoes Blair in many ways. But will he realise that being elected is not an end in itself? - 8th December 2008
  • Sceptered aisles - Woolworths' demise is not all bad news - old brands die to make way for something better - 1st December 2008
  • Life on Mars isn't planet YouTube - It seemed a great chance for Fleet Street to put its best foot forward. Here was a pre-Budget newsstand bonanza - 30th November 2008
  • It's the intake, stupid - The results of private schools reveal that neither wealth nor class size dictate performance - 24th November 2008
  • The paucity of hope - The left has long ended disillusioned by avowed progressives. Better for leaders to promise little - 17th November 2008
  • The memory continuum - The past and the present are for ever linked: just compare the Somme with the Iran-Iraq war - 10th November 2008
  • The holiday curse - Ross-Brand illustrates an odd pattern: media bosses seem always to be off when disaster strikes - 3rd November 2008
  • Parody politics - John Prescott would be a hero in blue collar America; here he is the butt of endless jokes - 27th October 2008
  • Meddle with them, not us - If regulation is good for bankers, pause before decrying Sats and league tables for public services - 20th October 2008
  • From glum to giggle - Bruce Forsyth, as I saw up close, is a class act who makes the good times roll. Politicians, take note - 13th October 2008
  • Slicing up Whitehall - Merging the energy and climate departments sells short the supreme threat of global warming - 6th October 2008
  • Fair is a bag of Maltesers - My grandchildren's rows over sweets show that equality is not a state but an everlasting argument - 29th September 2008
  • A troubling succession - Jacob Zuma's fitness for office and the manner of his elevation should give concern to South Africa - 22nd September 2008
  • The Lib Dems' new friends - Nick Clegg is cosying up to the foes of yesteryear, seeing them as potential partners in government - 15th September 2008
  • A doomed presidency - With the army poised for a coup and the Taliban winning hearts, Zardari doesn't stand a chance - 8th September 2008
  • Fantasy football - Premier League teams exist in a bubble outwith economic reality. They are due a rude awakening - 1st September 2008
  • The long playa - Getting the children from villa to beach used to be a doddle. Today, with five little ones, it's quite a task - 25th August 2008
  • A gap year to a gap life - William used to be the monarchy's modern hope. Now his organic dad is more appealing - 18th August 2008
  • Relocation, relocation - House prices are of little interest to a generation of mobile workers with no desire to put down roots - 11th August 2008
  • Where writs don't run - Borderland Pakistan is the old west reincarnated, and ignorant outsiders won't force change - 4th August 2008
  • The Balkan evasion - Debates on the EU treaty ignore what is crucial for peace and progress: to let the likes of Serbia in, soon - 28th July 2008
  • Morals and medals - Dwain Chambers' Olympic ban has been exalted, but it lacks fairness and compassion - 21st July 2008
  • Free rein for m'learned friends - The McCann/Murat debacle was a whopping blunder and ought to lead to wholesale indoctrination in European law for journalists in a globalised age - 20th July 2008 (Observer)
  • It must be up to Africa - For all Gordon Brown's fine diplomatic froth, he is a peripheral figure in the future of Zimbabwe - 14th July 2008
  • Making us all imbeciles - Ludicrous and lacking common sense, censors were once sent packing. But now they're back - 7th July 2008
  • The Britsport illusion - We think of ourselves as a roaring success but the only race we excel in is the league of failure - 30th June 2008
  • A nation as yet unbuilt - Afghanistan has never been a successful state. Our involvement there is based on a delusion - 23rd June 2008
  • We forget at our peril - The rightwing press may see the EU as a gravy train, but if the project unravels we are all in deep trouble - 16th June 2008
  • Young lives transformed - No child is unteachable, and George Dixon school shows us why we must never abandon hope - 9th June 2008
  • Jules and Jim - and me - Truffaut's masterpiece of cinema still seems as fresh and magical as when it first screened - 2nd June 2008
  • A pantomime of a process - It is meant to be fair, but the system of choosing presidential candidates is chaotic and self-defeating - 26th May 2008
  • Trust just got busted - It's no good blaming the media. We are all guilty of hypocrisy and to feign otherwise is simply crass - 19th May 2008
  • Tartans in a twist - Instead of making it easy for the Nats, pro-union parties could deliver a Scottish referendum now - 12th May 2008
  • El stupido, the Samaritan - Being mugged in Spain yet again hit my wallet hard. But the real cost is in losing trust in people - 5th May 2008
  • When Darling hit the booze - How much of the 10p tax climbdown will go straight back to the Treasury via alcopops? - 28th April 2008
  • The eyes of the betrayed - My friend Tom Sharpe's photographs of apartheid South Africa have a new, painful resonance today - 21st April 2008
  • The street of shame - Nobody seems remotely bothered that London is host to Europe's premier shopping sinkhole - 14th April 2008
  • Thou shalt not do irony - If a man can move from Moses to the head of the gun lobby, God must have a terrific sense of humour - 7th April 2008
  • Playing the boycott game - If Tibet proves that the Olympics are a time for protest, London had better be prepared - 31st March 2008
  • The true chill factor - As winter clings bitterly on, few seem to have remembered the human cost of high fuel bills - 24th March 2008
  • Tipping points - In the wacky world of gratuities, it's hard to know how much to give to whom. We need standards - 17th March 2008
  • Málaga to Manchester - With a million Brits, and similar political issues, Spain could be our closest European ally - 10th March 2008
  • At home with Uncle Sam - It is the daily worship of property prices that shows we really are all Americans now - 3rd March 2008
  • The kindness of strangers - The columnists' gloom is unwarranted: ordinary people still care about living together in peace - 25th February 2008
  • Wrong man for the job - The first EU president has to be conciliatory, humble and tactful - and thus not Tony Blair - 11th February 2008
  • Latte and lotteries - Middle-class parents get their kids a better deal on education. Our teachers should do a form of national service - 4th February 2008
  • Playing by the rules - It's nonsense to suggest that Brown dithered over Hain: the PM has done everything he should - 28th January 2008
  • The past is omnipresent - Public service drama should reflect the lives we live now, not recycle coagulated period pieces - 21st January 2008
  • The fable of morale - Sky high or rock bottom, it is a concept mushy enough to be a political buzzword for anybody - 14th January 2008
  • Blame us all for Britney - As the obsessive coverage of this tear-stained wreck shows, mental illness has become a spectator sport - 7th January 2008

The Observer:

Column name: Press & Broadcasting

Remit/Info: Media, broadcasting and journalism; news about newspapers, their readers and circulations

Section: Business & Media

Role: Columnist



Website: / Peter Preston

Commissioning editor:

Day published: Sunday

Regularity: Weekly

Column format:

Average length:


News & updates: