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Andrew Neil throws almighty tantrum after Co-op pulls advertising from his magazine over anti-trans articles – then U-turns

Patrick Kelleher September 4, 2020
Andrew Neil

Andrew Neil engaged in a Twitter spat with the Co-op. (BBC)

Andrew Neil, chairman of The Spectator, has lashed out at the Co-op after it announced it would pull future advertising from his magazine over anti-trans content.

The controversy emerged when a Twitter user criticised the Co-op for placing adverts in The Spectator, which she saw as at odds with a recent trans-inclusive campaign by the brand.

“As a trans person I was pleased to see your adverts featuring a trans woman and celebrating diversity, I visited your stores as a result, but why bother if your [sic] going to turn around ignore your members wishes and place adverts and fund transphobia in The Spectator,” Lisa wrote.

Lisa went on to claim that The Spectator publishes anti-trans content roughly once every week, and accused the Co-op of supporting “negativity” by advertising with the magazine.

The Co-op later replied, saying that they would cease advertising in The Spectator with immediate effect, writing: “This advert was placed as part of a package by our media buyers. We are taking up the issue with them with a view to them not using this publication again in the future.”

In response, Neil felt it necessary to ban the Co-op from the magazine it had just said it was boycotting.

“No need to bother, Co-op,” the former Sunday Times editor said, sharing the chain’s tweet. “As of today you are henceforth banned from advertising in The Spectator, in perpetuity. We will not have companies like yours use their financial might to try to influence our editorial content, which is entirely a matter for the editor.”

The Co-op later walked back its decision, tweeting on Friday (September 4) that the situation had “escalated quickly”.

“We want to set the record straight,” the Co-op said. “The tweet sent yesterday was incorrect and does not reflect our advertising position. Our policy supports editorial freedom.”

Neil, meanwhile, has continued his prolonged Twitter tantrum. When he was accused of “lurching further to the right” by one social media user, he claimed that “defending editorial freedom is not a left/right matter”.

He added: “I can remember a time when the left stood up for publications that resisted the efforts of advertisers to influence their content. No longer, if the Twitter left is any guide.”

Meanwhile, The Spectator tweeted: “Sorry to lose the Co-op, but The Spectator cannot work with advertisers who seek to use their commercial clout to stifle debate.”

The magazine has faced criticism from LGBT+ activists in the past over anti-trans content.

In 2016, the magazine was roundly criticised when it featured a cartoon showing two cisgender men “trans-spotting”.

The cartoon was criticised by then Stonewall CEO Ruth Hunt as “reductive” and “damaging”.

PinkNews has contacted the Co-op and Andrew Neil’s representative for comment.

More: Andrew Neil, Co-op, The Spectator, Transgender

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