In his excellent 1991 article on News from Nowhere, Patrick Parrinder reminded us that ‘Morris (among his multifarious activities) was a newspaperman’, and he was, more specifically, a socialist newspaperman; so I think that he would have been as impressed as we should be that tomorrow is the fiftieth anniversary of the Morning Star newspaper. To keep a daily paper ‘For Peace and Socialism’ (as its front page announces) going for half a century, particularly in the last couple of decades of neoliberalism, in which Raymond Williams’s ‘long revolution’ has been so thoroughly rolled back, is a major feat indeed.
The Morning Star began as The Daily Worker in January 1930, when it was the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Just how Stalinist it was in those days is indicated by the fact that when in August 1940 it reported Trotsky’s assassination it did so under the headline: ‘A Counter Revolutionary Gangster Passes’. My paternal grandfather Henry Pinkney, as a CPGB member, must have been reading the paper in those years, and I know that he used to sell it outside the gates of Betteshanger Colliery after he retired as a miner in 1959. What he made of its metamorphosis into the Morning Star in April 1966, I do not know.
There are always questions to be asked about the political orientations of Left newspapers – including Morris’s own Commonweal. Often, I find, today’s Morning Star doesn’t seem to be able to think much further Left than Jeremy Corbyn. But it is always packed with crucial industrial, trade union, campaigning and international news than you won’t find in the mainstream press and media, and for a relatively thin newspaper (16 pages on weekdays) its cultural coverage is good too. So we must be grateful for what we’ve got. Let’s admire the political dedication that has kept the title in being for fifty years, and wish it another half century on behalf of Peace and Socialism too. Whenever and wherever you see the Morning Star, do buy it – it needs and deserves our support.