Allison Pearson

The Telegraph

Allison Pearson has a matchless bond with her readers. She combines strong indignation with laugh-out-loud humour and does not hesitate to take on the most controversial topics.

She has ignited fierce discussions around the NHS, lockdowns, Conservatism, abortion and Royalty.

Through her Telegraph platform she helped launch British Friends of Israel along with a 200-strong group of actors, authors, MPs and Lords, collectively standing in support of British Jews and their right to live their lives in this country without fear. There is little doubt, given her following, that Pearson would have been the inspiration for a good number of the 30,000+ signatures already collected.

And it is this connection with her audience which stands Pearson out from the crowd. She surely has the closest relationship with readers among British commentators. There is the regular flow of letters, carefully responded to, and more publicly it is in her willingness to join in the debate below her articles online.

Where others fear to look at the comments section, Pearson always engages with the readers, whether they are on her side or not.

Pearson respects that readers comment to be heard and to show that their opinions matter, and so she talks to them all and encourages them to use their voices. This is an immense service both to our newspaper and to public debate - and a very brave one.

She also takes the conversation to Twitter/X, allowing herself to be interrogated over current affairs and her opinions on them with the sort of tough honesty she demands from those in public life. Her weekly Planet Normal podcast further showcases her talents.

The high standards she holds are behind articles which are highly critical of MPs (of all parties). She is never intimidated at the thought she might not be welcome at Conservative Party conference for example. Her columns throw light on to the corridors of power, they are never intended to help her gain access. No one would ever doubt her integrity; it shines out.

Pearson is a passionate campaigner on many issues but none more so than the NHS. She has a very full postbag from readers – doctors, nurses, managers, patients, relatives and charities, all of whom share experiences, good and bad, with some also revealing statistics or events they are worried will be covered up. She has used her column to raise concerns over vaccine efficacy and abortion terms, over cancer delays and waiting lists. She bases her opinions on a huge range of sources and statistics and is incredibly well-informed.

One recent column which highlighted the situation of young bowel cancer sufferer Jon Chapple raised £130,000 for him to access ground-breaking treatment. Few columnists could hope for such an amazing reaction to their words.