Morning Star editor Ben Chacko explains why it’s important to have a press that works for the public.
THE Morning Star is the only paper that actively campaigns for working-class politics. The only paper that reports accurately on strikes and industrial disputes. The only paper that supports the People’s Assembly and reports authoritatively on what is happening in Cuba, Palestine, Ukraine and elsewhere.
The Star offers a unique, non-sectarian perspective on national and international industrial and political issues, not offered by the mainstream media. We are a reader-owned co-operative, with nine trade unions represented on our management committee: Unite, CWU, NUM, POA, Ucatt, FBU, Community, GMB and RMT.
No other daily newspaper carries such a range of voices from the left — trade union leaders and activists, left Labour MPs and the Communist Party, the Stop the War Coalition, the anti-fascist campaigns Hope Not Hate and Unite Against Fascism, the Green Party and more. We also feature distinctive arts and sports coverage unavailable elsewhere.
This year, the Morning Star reached its 85th anniversary. It was founded in 1930, in a country mired in the Great Depression that followed the Wall Street Crash, to act as the voice of working people resisting a ruling class determined to make them pay for its crisis.
The parallels with today are obvious, and the need for our paper — the voice of the organised labour movement, the only daily paper committed to anti-imperialism, peace and socialism — is more acute than ever given the outcome of the general election.
The result on May 7 was a disaster for our class. The Conservatives may only have scraped a quarter of the electorate’s votes, but they are now entrenched in power with a parliamentary majority.
The first few hours of Tory rule saw the announcement of plans to cap access-to-work funding that helps deaf and blind people secure jobs. Since then the blows have come thick and fast.
They plan to take Britain out of the European Convention on Human Rights and axe the Human Rights Act. Arbitrary turnout thresholds are to be introduced on industrial action in “essential” industries. Shameless ministers couldn’t care less that if such thresholds were applied to Parliament they wouldn’t be sitting there in the first place.
Those £12 billion in welfare cuts David Cameron was so shy of specifying before May 7 are headed our way. The Conservatives will seek to accelerate the privatisation of the NHS as well as extend privatisation to all remaining areas of the public sector. The heaviest and most brutal attacks are going to come quickly.
They want to push as much of their agenda through as possible before disagreements over the EU or anything else start to cause problems for No 10.
In Parliament little can be done to stop them. The real fight will be on the ground. Industrial action, community resistance, strikes, sit-ins, occupations — anything and everything necessary to derail the neoliberal assault, whether that’s by keeping an A&E service in a hospital or a library open, helping a school avoid being forced to become an academy or scaring a private company away from a public-sector contract.
Trade unions, solidarity organisations, campaign groups and broad alliances such as the People’s Assembly will all need to come together to make this resistance as effective as possible.
And the role of the Morning Star will be crucial. We all saw how brazenly a mass media owned by a handful of billionaire tax-exiles tried to manipulate the election, using all their clout to demonise Ed Miliband, the Labour Party, the Greens and, south of the border, the SNP. Any departure from the neoliberal savagery that caused the bankers’ crash in 2008 has, thanks to the Tories, prompted howls of outrage from Britain’s “free” press.
Resistance under the Con-Dem coalition was continuous. There were the huge marches against student fees, the founding of the People’s Assembly, the teaching unions’ routing of Michael Gove, the People’s March for the NHS, the Focus E15 mums’ occupations and more.
But where could you read about all this? Even liberal titles such as the Guardian have a horror of direct action and a distaste for covering trade union initiatives. In the eyes of most of the press, it’s not “proper” politics unless it takes place in Westminster. The Guardian backed Labour in May, and it might back Labour in 2020, but you can bet it will not help campaign against this government in the meantime.
If we play the parliamentary game and wait five years, the Tories will have created a “new normal” — a Britain poorer, weaker, more divided and more unequal. The Morning Star is different because it is owned by its readers. Anyone who buys a share can come along to our annual general meetings and take part in discussions around the way forward for our paper.
We are the paper of the labour movement, in a very real sense, telling the stories of working-class struggle the other papers ignore.
But the Morning Star is not simply a newspaper. It is a tool for an education and mobilisation in the workplace and the community that no activist or politically committed person on the left should be without. We hope you will become a daily reader.
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