Should the labour movement have its own newspaper? That is the question posed by Richard Burgon, currently running for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.
Burgon, speaking to Novara Media, said that a Labour freesheet could mimic the Evening Standard or the Metro. The various editions of the Metro currently have a total circulation of 1.4m, and the ES has about 800,000 around London. That makes them two of the most-read newspapers in the UK.
Burgon was attacked by Ian Murray, the most right-wing of those standing for the deputy leadership: “We are a party aspiring to be in government, not a protest movement handing out newspapers outside train stations”.
Solidarity supporters sell newspapers outside train stations as a way to help educate the working class to learn how to take political power. Ian Murray believes neither in newspapers to spread information and ideas, nor in working-class power.
Burgon’s general idea of a labour movement paper is not a bad one, although insisting it be a freesheet would limit it. What a “tabloid” style newspaper would mean is open to debate. A newspaper can be accessible, informative and educational without being sensationalist or lowest-common-denominator. It should be open to genuine debate, unlike the Morning Star, a paper Burgon continues to write for and promote. It should be a lot livelier than Labour Weekly, which was the Labour Party’s official paper from 1971 to 1988, but never motivated anyone to sell it outside a train station.
Better something like the Daily Herald when it was the official TUC daily paper, from 1922 to 1964, and it often championed the cause of striking workers and made at least some sort of case for socialism. Even better the Daily Herald of its earlier and more radical days.