Morning Star (British newspaper)
|Owner||People's Press Printing Society|
|Founded||1930 (as Daily Worker)|
|Political alignment||Socialist, Communist, Trade Unionist|
|Headquarters||William Rust House, 52 Beachy Road, Bow, London E3 2NS|
The Morning Star is a left-wing British daily tabloid newspaper with a focus on social and trade union issues. Articles and comment columns are contributed by writers from socialist, social democratic, green and religious perspectives.
The newspaper was founded in 1930 as the Daily Worker, organ of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). Since 1945 the paper has been owned by the People's Press Printing Society. It was renamed the Morning Star in 1966. Britain's Road to Socialism, the programme of the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), underlies the paper's editorial stance.
The Daily Worker (1930–1966)
The Morning Star was founded in 1930 as the Daily Worker, the organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Great Britain. The first edition was produced on 1 January 1930 from the offices of the newspaper in Tabernacle Street, London by eight Party members including Kay Beauchamp. In January 1934 The Daily Worker's offices moved to Cayton Street off the City Road. On 1 October 1935, the first eight page Daily Worker was produced.
The paper criticised Sir Walter Citrine after a Paris meeting with French Labour Minister Charles Pomaret in December 1939. Time said of the events following the meeting, "Minister Pomaret clamped down on French labour with a set of drastic wage-&-hour decrees and Sir Walter Citrine agreed to a proposal by Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir John Simon that pay rises in Britain be stopped".
Citrine sued the Daily Worker for libel after it accused him and his associates of "plotting with the French Citrines to bring millions of Anglo-French Trade Unionists behind the Anglo-French imperialist war machine"; the publisher pleaded the British press equivalent of 'fair comment'. Citrine alleged, in response to his lawyer's questioning, that the Daily Worker received £2,000 pounds per month from "Moscow", and that Moscow directed the paper to print anti-war stories.
On 3 September 1939, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain spoke to the nation on the BBC, at which time he announced the formal declaration of war between Britain and Nazi Germany. Backed by his political ally, Party General Secretary Harry Pollitt, Daily Worker editor J. R. Campbell sought to portray the conflict against Hitler as a continuation of the anti-fascist fight. This contradicted the position of the Comintern, which became CPGB policy on 3 October, that the war was a struggle between rival imperialist powers, and Campbell was removed as editor as a result. The newspaper responded to the assassination of Leon Trotsky by a Soviet agent with an article on 23 August 1940 entitled "A Counter Revolutionary Gangster Passes", written by former editor Campbell.
During the period in World War II when the Soviet Union was in alliance with Germany the Daily Worker ceased to attack Nazi Germany and advocated policies that some perceived as seeking to undermine the war effort. For this reason in January 1941 the newspaper was suppressed by the wartime coalition's (Labour) Home Secretary, Herbert Morrison. The ban was lifted in September 1942 following a campaign supported by Hewlett Johnson, the Dean of Canterbury, and Professor J. B. S. Haldane. A "Lift the ban" conference at Central hall, Westminster on 21 March 1942 was attended by over 2,000 delegates. A key part of the campaign was to secure Labour Party support (Herbert Morrison was a fierce opponent of the Daily Worker). On 26 May 1942, after a heated debate, the Labour Party carried a resolution declaring the Government must lift the ban on the Daily Worker. During the ban the Daily Worker offices at Cayton Street were totally destroyed by fire during The Blitz on 16 April 1941. The paper moved temporarily in 1942 to the former Caledonian Press offices in Swinton Street (from where the old Communist Party Sunday Worker edited by William Paul had been printed from 15 March 1925 until 1929). In 1945 new offices were acquired at a former brush makers warehouse at 75 Farringdon Road, London EC1 for the sum of £48,000. A Scottish edition of the Daily Worker was produced from its plant in Glasgow from 11 November 1940.
Since September 1945 the paper has been owned and published by a readers' co-operative, the People's Press Printing Society, which operates on a one-vote-per-shareholder basis.
The last edition of the Daily Worker came out on Saturday 23 April 1966, being re-launched as the Morning Star, the first edition of which appeared the following Monday, 25 April 1966. An editorial in the final issue declared:
"On Monday this newspaper takes its greatest step forward for many years. It will be larger, it will be better and it will have a new name.... During its 36 years of life our paper has stood for all that is best in British working-class and Socialist journalism. It has established a reputation for honesty, courage and integrity. It has defended trade unionists, tenants, pensioners. It has consistently stood for peace. It has always shown the need for Socialism. Let all Britain see the Morning Star, the inheritor of a great tradition and the herald of a greater future".
The Morning Star (1966 to present)
The paper supported the National Union of Mineworkers during the miners' strike of 1984–1985, and it still campaigns for the coal industry to be rebuilt. It adopts the phrase "clean coal" to emphasise that the environmental impact of mining must be taken into account. The 2006 energy review by the Blair administration was criticised for not giving enough consideration to clean coal energy.
On international issues the paper advocates a "two-state" solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and calls for Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories. It was the only daily paper in Britain to oppose the Kosovo War, denouncing North Atlantic Treaty Organization military intervention, and consistently defended President Slobodan Milošević, according to other far-left publications, and opposed NATO in the 1999 Kosovo War against what remained of the former Yugoslavia. The newspaper opposed the Iraq War.
Successive annual general meetings of the People's Press Printing Society have agreed that the policy of the paper is founded on Britain's Road to Socialism, the programme of the Communist Party of Britain; in its earlier forms before 1985, the programme of the CPGB. However, despite this relationship with the CPB, features are contributed by writers from a variety of socialist, social democratic, green and religious perspectives.
As its masthead suggests, the paper generally supports peace and socialism. It is Eurosceptic and supported the No2EU platform in the 2009 European Parliament election. It is critical of the upper or ruling classes. It defends peaceful protests and civil disobedience and industrial action by workers to improve working conditions and wages. The Morning Star is concerned with environmental issues and supports environment campaigning groups; it advocates unilateral nuclear disarmament. In elections the paper endorses the Communist Party of Britain; where the CPB is not standing, the paper advocates a vote for the Labour Party.
Contributors and staff
In the first years of the twenty-first century the paper has carried contributions from Uri Avnery, John Pilger, Green activist Derek Wall, ex-Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, Green MP Caroline Lucas, Respect MP George Galloway, former MP Alan Simpson, the cartoonist Martin Rowson, and many trade union general secretaries.
According to John Haylett:
- " ... We have articles from people that at one time we would never have given the time of day to – like the Welsh and Scottish Nationalists, the Greens, and regular contributions from church people ... [but] ... things that happened in the Soviet Union 70 years ago are still being used as a stick to beat the Morning Star.".
On 1 January 2009, Bill Benfield took over as editor of the Morning Star. John Haylett, who had been editor since 1995, took up the post of political editor. Bill Benfield had previously been deputy editor and head of production.
In May 2012, Richard Bagley became editor of the Morning Star.
Finances and circulation
The Morning Star carries little commercial advertising, with low advertising rates, and the cover price does not cover print and distribution. Consequently, the paper has always been dependent on donations from activists, readers, and trade unions. The paper relies on its "Star Fund" appeal (monthly target £16,000). In its past, the paper received subsidy from the Soviet Union in the form of bulk orders. In 1981, its circulation was about 36,000 (down from the Daily Worker's 1947 peak of 122,000).
In March 2005, BBC News Magazine reported the Morning Star's circulation as between 13,000 and 14,000, quoting John Haylett's comment "perhaps only one in 10 of these readers would label themselves as communists", while in August 2006, The Guardian reported the print run to be "around 25,000".
The Morning Star has also taken a much higher profile at trade union gatherings and within the UK trade union movement, particularly with unions such as Unite, GMB, and RMT. Since 2008, the Morning Star has hired exhibition space at the Trades Union Congress, with sponsored copies being handed out to delegates and a special deal with a large independent newsagent Martin McColl to provide copies of the paper at half the cover price for a limited period for delegates who opted for home delivery of the newspaper.
During the early morning of 28 July 2008, the offices of the newspaper were damaged by fire, and the edition of 29 July took a reduced form.
On 1 June 2009, the Morning Star was re-launched. The re-launch included a 16-page edition during the week, and a 24-page weekend edition. There was also an expanded use of colour pictures and graphics, plus a redesign and a modern layout of the pages. The Morning Star also redesigned its website. In addition a number of new and experienced journalists were engaged and the positions of full-time Industrial Correspondent and Lobby Correspondent in the House of Commons were reintroduced.
In November 2011, the Morning Star launched an urgent appeal to raise £75,000 in order to address a number of funding issues which meant the paper might have gone under by the end of the year.
Starting on Monday 18 June 2012, the Morning Star will enter into a printing press partnership with Trinity Mirror, which will help improve distribution of the Morning Star to all parts of the country, particularly Scotland.
An online version of the paper was launched on 1 April 2004. Initially only some parts of the site were free, including a PDF of the paper's front page, the editorial "Star Comment" and all the articles from the culture and sports pages, while features and the actual news were subscription only. On 1 January 2009 this policy was changed, and now all content is freely available online. In April 2012, the paper launched a daily e-edition of the full newspaper, which readers can subscribe to for a small charge.
- 1930: William Rust
- 1933: Jimmy Shields
- 1935: Idris Cox
- 1936: Rajani Palme Dutt
- 1938: Dave Springhall
- 1939: John Ross Campbell
- 1939: William Rust
- 1949: John Ross Campbell
- 1959: George Matthews
- 1974: Tony Chater
- 1995: John Haylett
- 2009: Bill Benfield
- 2012: Richard Bagley
- membership page at Co-operatives UK
- "Pressing on". BBC News. 21 March 2005. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
- "(The Morning Star is) in line with Britain's Road to Socialism, the Communist Party of Britain programme that underlies our paper's editorial stance." People's Press Printing Society Annual Report 2009.
- "The Papers of the Communist Party of Great Britain", The Archive hub, University of Manchester
- "Help for Researchers: Concise History of the British Newspaper in the Twentieth Century", British Library website
- "Access to Archives". The National Archives. Retrieved 24 July 2011.
- "Reds, Labor and the War". TIME. 13 May 1940. Retrieved 14 July 09.
- James Eaton and David Renton The Communist Party of Great Britain since 1920, Basingstoke: Pallgrave, 2002, pp.69–70
- Editorial "The 'Daily Worker", Manchester Guardian, 22 January 1941, reprint on The Guardian's website.
- "Pulling the Wool". 12 July 2006. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
- See for example Charlie Kimber "Milosevic- a socialist?", Socialist Worker [No.1718, 14 October 2000, p.4] and Roger Dark "Try Milosevic!" Weekly Worker No. 355 [12 October 2000].
- People's Press Printing Society Limited 61st Annual Report for Annual General Meeting June 2006, p. 4
- More about Scottish Communists: Part of the Communist Party of Britain[dead link]
- The Morning Star, 31 December 2008, p. 18
- "Contact Us". Morningstaronline.co.uk. Retrieved 24 July 2011.
- "/ Home – Morning Star". Morningstaronline.co.uk. Retrieved 24 July 2011.
- Tomlinson J. Left Right, London: John Calder, 1981.
- Dowell, Ben (3 August 2006). "Morning Star faces Olympic challenge". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 13 May 2010.
- "Morning Star offices go up in smoke", Metro, 28 July 2008.
- Sunny Hundal "Morning Star could go under by Christmas", Liberal Conspiracy, 16 November 2011
- Richard Bagley "Morning Star Online to go free in 2009", Morning Star website, [c.11] November 2008.
- Morning Star Online subscriptions page, Morning Star website, June 2012.
- James Klugmann, History of the Communist Party of Great Britain, vol.3, p.57
- Coughlan, Sean. Pressing On, BBC News Magazine, Monday, 21 March 2005. Retrieved 24 May 2005.
- Deeson, Martin. Still flying the red flag: Despite the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Morning Star presses are still rolling. The Independent, Monday, 23 May 2005. Retrieved 24 May 2005.
- Sanghera, Sathnam. A lifetime on the left, Financial Times, Friday, 23 April 2005. Retrieved 1 October 2006.
- Martin Sullivan "The Crisis at the Morning Star", What Next, 1998.
- Official website
- Today's Morning Star front page (in PDF format)
- Morning Star on Twitter
- The Morning Star Fighting Fund
- Morning Star Readers & Supporters Group - on FACEBOOK