Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

On the Demise of Tribune.

with 6 comments


Latest Private Eye.

After a talk in Ipswich a couple of week ago, on Orwell and Suffolk (the book,  Anderson, Paul, ed. Orwell in Tribune: ‘As I Please’ and Other Writings, 1943-7) is well worth reading, we were chatting about Tribune.

Very few people appear to refer to the paper, or read it. In recent years it has dropped off the political map.

From what was said at the time in the Woolpack it appears that the Private Eye information about the ownership of the venerable Labour left paper is probably true and the weekly looks like disappearing in any recognisable form.

That it is on the slide to ceasing publication is not surprising.

Though the last entry on the Tribune  site dates the 20th of February.

The Wikipedia entry needs reviewing.

In March 2009, 100% ownership of the magazine passed to Kevin McGrath, through a new company Tribune Publications 2009 Limited, with the intention of keeping Tribune a left-of-centre publication though broadening the readership.[5][8][9]

In late October 2011, the future of Tribune looked bleak once again when McGrath warned of possible closure because subscriptions and income had not risen as had been hoped.[10] Unless a buyer could be found or a cooperative established, the last edition would have been published on 4 November.[11] McGrath committed to paying off the magazine’s debts. Another rescue plan saved the magazine at the end of October.

Tribune played an important role on the Labour left for many years, and not just in the 40s and 50s, remembered through the association with Orwell. Under Michael Foot’s editorship, (1955 – 60) Richard Clements (1960 – 82 – when I first read the weekly) and Chris Mullin (1982 – 84) is was a must-read  in the Labour Party and amongst socialists.

It was, as is often said about the background thinking of British and Irish socialists, marked by an appreciation not just of politics but of literature.

Paul Anderson (Editor, 1991 – 3) and his left-wing colleague, David Osler, brought the paper in contact with broader circles, including New Left figures from the Socialist Society, and the Socialist Movement/Chesterfield conference, as well as those supportive of Neil Kinnock. From 1993 Mark Seddon, and Barckley Sumner opened the paper up to critics of Tony Blair and modernisation.

As in here:








In the new millennium Tribune followed, critically, the fortunes of the Socialist Alliance, and George Galloway’s Respect.

By around 2010 many people had drifted away from reading the paper when, after a series of financial crisis, and ‘rescues’, it was poorly distributed and the Web site failed to compete with new media outlets for the left.

It still carried quality reviews, particularly of films, but the aura of the “must-read” had gone.

Open to the broadest forms of democratic socialist opinion Tribune has no parallel  in the print media today.

The site still carries this message,

“Tribune is the organ of no political party and has no association nor understanding with any party” is the opening line of the statement of aims and beliefs in our first edition of January 1, 1937.

Tribune was founded as a voice for unity against fascism in Spain and Nazi Germany.

For more than 75 years our journalism has been based on internationalism, the search for economic and intellectual liberation and the love of equality and democracy.

Our wartime literary editor George Orwell laid out the Tribune standard for writing about politics in 1946:

Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one’s own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase — some jackboot, Achilles’ heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of verbal refuse — into the dustbin, where it belongs.”

The New Statesman continues to publish quality articles from a variety of standpoints on the left and the left-of-centre. But the the left audience is fragmented. Publications such as the Clarion, the on-line New Socialist, and continuing left journals, such as Chartist and Labour Briefing, offer opportunities to writer-activists and take up the issues that concern our constituency.

There is Red Pepper, whose politics of an ‘anti-Tory progressive alliance’ and support for ‘new’ nationalist movements across Europe, occupy a niche market. There is the Morning Star, competing with the Weekly Worker  in its enthusiasm for Tony Greenstein. There are the remaining party organs, such as the Socialist and Socialist Worker. Solidarity produced by the AWL has an audience beyond its own ‘heterodox Trotskyism’.

There are also the ‘alternative news’ blogs, some with pretensions to be genuine vehicles for information.

No doubt the end of Tribune has a lot to do with the decline of print.

It is still to be regretted.




Written by Andrew Coates

February 22, 2018 at 12:17 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Andrew, congratulations, at last your frivolity has exceeded your sectarianism (or is it the other way round?)

    Nick Wright

    February 22, 2018 at 1:15 pm

  2. Andrew, I tried to sort out the Wikipedia entry yesterday having seen the Private Eye article, but admissible sourcing on the issue is impossible to find. (Available sources are inadmissible because they include personal information like addresses.) Assuming the Companies House website is correct (and a direct mention of Tribune is absent there), the current owner appears to be LONDON PUBLICATIONS (TRADING) LTD, see https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/08958937/officers (check the earlier director history of Chris McLaughlin and Andrew Rosthorn who both resigned late last year) of which the only current director is indeed Owen John Oyston. LONDON PUBLICATIONS LTD, which the above cutting from the Eye (#1464), says is the owner is actually listed as “dormant”.

    Philip Cross

    February 22, 2018 at 1:17 pm

  3. Nothing can exceed this Cde Wright,

    “Poetry We Are Delighted To Announce
    We Are Delighted to Announce
    for Tony Greenstein

    “The screeching was confined to
    a few pseudonymous moderates
    post-coitally whispering the hope
    that this legally implemented death
    not be the last of its kind.”

    Morning Star today:

    Andrew Coates

    February 22, 2018 at 1:22 pm

  4. I would imagine that PE are fairly accurate.

    But as you say Phillip the details are not clear.

    Andrew Coates

    February 22, 2018 at 1:23 pm

  5. Sad to hear this. I’ve often thought that some of Orwell’s ‘As I Please’ columns were the best things he ever wrote.

    The Spanish Prisoner

    February 22, 2018 at 1:52 pm

  6. So, farewell then!

    Dave Roberts

    February 22, 2018 at 9:14 pm

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