Socialist Worker is the name of a number of socialist newspapers currently or formerly associated with the International Socialist Tendency (IST). It is a weekly published by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in the United Kingdom, a monthly (and daily web site) published by the International Socialist Organization (ISO) in the United States, a monthly published by the International Socialists in Canada, a biweekly published by the Socialist Workers Party in Ireland, a quarterly published by the International Socialist Organisation in Zimbabwe and was a monthly published by the former International Socialist Organisation in Australia. Socialist Worker was also the name of an IST political group in Aotearoa/New Zealand.
The Socialist Worker published by the SWP claims to be the most widely read socialist newspaper in the United Kingdom, though this claim is also made by the Morning Star, which has a daily circulation of 14,000. Although Socialist Worker sales/circulation data is not publicly available, John Molyneux estimated the circulation of the paper in 2006 to be under 8,000. Special "bumper" issues have a circulation approaching 10,000 it was claimed in an article containing an interview with Judith Orr in April 2013.
Originally titled Industrial Worker, and then Labour Worker, it was founded by the Socialist Review Group (which became the International Socialists, then the SWP) in 1961 in London (Cliff 78).
The newspaper was renamed Socialist Worker in 1968 and moved to weekly production; its first editor was Roger Protz (Higgins 90). Its language and general approach was modelled on The Daily Mirror but aimed to provide a very different set of ideas (Harman 40). Writers included Paul Foot, Duncan Hallas and Eamonn McCann plus reports of strikes and other struggles from across the country sent in by readers. The editor from 1974 to 1978, Paul Foot (Foot xii) later went to work for the Mirror, though he continued to contribute to Socialist Worker until his death in 2004. It was edited between 1982 and 2004 by Chris Harman.
After 2004 it was edited by Chris Bambery, who was succeeded by Charlie Kimber in 2009, and Judith Orr late in 2010. When Margaret Thatcher died, the newspaper printed "Rejoice" over her headstone, gaining much international comment.
The paper gained mainstream attention for itself when it published an article which seemed to mock the death of a 17-year-old who was mauled to death by a polar bear, on the basis that he was attending Eton. Writing in The Guardian, Owen Jones commented that instead of expressing sadness or empathy over the death of a young person, the newspaper was "evidently delighted." Jones said the end of the article "was even more gratuitous," because it said "Now we have another reason to save the polar bears." Jones suggested that "the official organ of the Socialist Workers party (SWP) apparently fantasises about an army of polar bears leaving the playing fields of Eton soaked blue with posh blood."
Working for the newspaper has proved to be an apprenticeship for many prominent journalists at the onset of their careers, including Gary Bushell and the brothers Christopher and Peter Hitchens.
Production and distribution
The paper is printed early on Wednesday morning, then delivered to key parts of the country, where people in the region collect the paper and sell it. It also has a subscription service by which the paper is delivered on the Thursday by mail. It is also distributed to some shops through the WHSmith News distribution network. It is sent free to any UK prisoners who request it.
The paper is published on behalf of the party by Sherborne Publications Limited, current directors Charlie Kimber and Joseph Choonara, and Sherborne also publish the associated website www.socialistworker.co.uk. The paper is often sold by street campaigners and picketers as well as by newsagents.
Shortly after its foundation in 1977, the ISO began publishing a monthly titled Socialist Worker, modelled after the British publication of the same name and the biweekly Workers' Power, then published by the International Socialists. As its circulation increased along with the growth of the ISO, the frequency of publication increased, becoming a weekly with issue 379, dated 12 October 2001. The 500th issue was published on 21 May 2004. The paper became a daily web site on May Day 2008. The print version is published monthly. The ISO left the International Socialist Tendency in 2001.
Since 13 April 2001, the ISO has also published a Spanish language supplement to Socialist Worker, titled Obrero Socialista. Publication was irregular until 2005, since when it has been bimonthly. Socialist Worker is edited by Alan Maass, and Obrero Socialista by Orlando Sepulveda.
|Type||Monthly (bi-weekly from 1995-2006) newspaper|
|Founded||1968 (as Workers' Action)|
Socialist Worker is the publication of the International Socialists, the Canadian IST affiliate. The newspaper was originally called Workers' Action and was published monthly from 1975 until August 1985. After 108 issues, it was renamed Socialist Worker. In 1995 Socialist Worker started publishing every two weeks, except for triweekly issues in May, July and December. Socialist Worker published its 450th issue on 8 June 2005.
In recent years, the newspaper has been published irregularly. It was published triweekly for a time and is currently on a monthly schedule. Articles from the paper (from 1999 to the present) can no longer be found on the paper's web site, but are accessible through the "Way Back Machine" -- 
Socialist Worker is twelve pages and printed in black and red. Its circulation is estimated to be 1200, according to IS members. A French-language monthly, Résistance!, was also published by the IS and claimed a circulation of 300, most of it in Quebec. It has now ceased publication. The Agitator, a monthly student bulletin was published from 2007 to early 2009.
The Irish SWP's fortnightly Socialist Worker styles itself as a "paper of the movements", with more in depth articles and commentary from left activists outside the party.
Similar publications with the same title were formerly published in Australia and New Zealand. The Australian International Socialist Organisation's paper sales dwindled to 422 an issue by 2000. By 2001, when the paper went weekly, sales had dropped by almost 300. The paper ended with the merger of the ISO and two other socialist groups which formed Solidarity in 2008.
References and sources
- Peter Manson "Another one bites the dust", Weekly Worker, 6 January 2011
- SW Kenning, "A loyal rebel", Weekly Worker, No. 606, 5 January 2006.
- Ian Burrell "Why we had to rejoice after Margaret Thatcher's death, by the editor behind provocative Socialist Worker front page", The Independent, 12 April 2013
- John Molyneux "Chris Harman: Editor of 'Socialist Worker' whose intellectual stature gave him an influence beyond party ranks", The Independent, 19 November 2009
- Adam Withnall "Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’", The Independent, 10 July 2014
- Claire Duffin "Outcry after socialist paper mocks death of Eton schoolboy in polar bear attack", Daily Telegraph, 10 July 2014
- Owen Jones "Mocking an Eton boy's death is the worst politics of envy", The Guardian, 14 July 2014
- Ross, Deborah (25 June 2001). "Garry Bushell: For Garry, England and St George". The Independent. Retrieved 5 February 2008.
- Lynn Barber "Hitch-22: A Memoir by Christopher Hitchens", The Sunday Times, 16 May 2010
- "Peter Hitchens", Debretts online
- "Socialist Worker Rejoices In Death Of Eton Schoolboy Killed By Polar Bear", The Huffington Post, 11 July 2014
- SHERBORNE PUBLICATIONS LIMITED companiesintheuk.co.uk, 20 March 2014. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
- Armstrong, Mick. "The Origins of Socialist Alternative", Marxist Left Review. Number 1, Spring, 2010, p.125.
- Armstrong, Mick. "The Origins of Socialist Alternative", Marxist Left Review. Number 1, Spring, 2010, p.131.
- Tony Cliff (2000) A World to Win. Bookmarks, London, ISBN 1-898876-62-2
- Paul Foot (1990) Words as Weapons, Verso, London, ISBN 0-86091-527-1
- Chris Harman (1991) The Revolutionary Paper, SWP, ISBN 0-905998-78-2
- Jim Higgins (1997) More years for the Locust, IS Group, London, ISBN 0-9530607-0-5 Complete text