First broadcast in 1990 on the BBC Arena programme, this hour long documentary tells of the trials and tribulations of the Morning Star, the UK’s only daily left wing newspaper.
Founded on January 1st, 1930, the Morning Star is still the only English-language socialist daily newspaper published in the world. In addition to that claim to fame, it is also the only newspaper in Britain owned by its readers. Originally published as the Daily Worker, the paper was launched as the organ of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Over the next 15 years it fought its way into the consciousness of trade unionists and progressives throughout the land, always fighting for the cause of working people and battling against an Establishment which moved heaven and earth to extinguish it It survived crippling court cases and the imprisonment of staff, harassment and even censorship by the police.
It survived a 12-year boycott (1930-1942) by wholesalers, during which the paper’s readers delivered the paper to newsagents. It outlived an 18-month ban (1940-41) by a vindictive Home Secretary, Herbert Morrison, which was only called off after a grassroots protest movement involving millions of people. And it rose above the bombing of its offices in 1941, which destroyed both the building and the new presses which had been bought with cash raised by readers’ collections. At the end of the second world war in 1945, the Communist Party of Great Britain realised that the paper had a far wider importance than simply being the journal of the party and, in the September of that year, the People’s Press Printing Society was established as an independent co-operative to publish the paper. Shares were sold at £1 each and, up and down the country, tens of thousands of trade unionists, Labour and Communist party members, trades councils and union branches and regions bought into the paper.
Those shareholders realised that, for the working class, there was little that was more important than to have a daily voice against the forces of imperialism, capitalism, oppresion and exploitation, a voice to counteract the diet of lies and distortions fed to the public by capitalism’s toady press. In 1966 the honourable name of the Daily Worker was replaced and the paper relaunched as the Morning Star - a change of name that was hotly debated throughout the trade union and labour movement. But, change of name or no, the paper continued the fight against oppression that had been the hallmark of the Daily Worker and carried on earning the respect of all whose causes it espoused, sometimes as the supporter of great mass movements and sometimes ploughing a lonely furrow as the single voice of progress in a Fleet Street which, at times, richly deserved the title Street of Shame. In 1984, the paper moved from its broadsheet format to become a tabloid, taking on an appearance which, with some modifications, is still recognisable today.
The Morning Star, however, faced many of hostilities and attacks as its predecessors - and some which could never have been envisaged in earlier days.
The Morning Star is now published as a 16 page paper weekdays – in full colour and 24 pages at weekend. The PPPS shareholders include individual shareholders as well as unions such as Unite, GMB, Community, FBU, POA, RMT, NUM and the Durham Miners.