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50 Years Ago: Socialists and the Press

WE LIVE IN WHAT IS CLAIMED to be a “free country,” where there is “free expression of opinion,” but this must not be taken literally. It does not mean that anyone can say or write just what he likes. The Official Secrets Act and the libel laws cut off considerable areas of expression, into which you trespass at your peril. Much greater restriction arises because we live in a money world, in which capacity to make views known depends largely on what you can afford to pay. If your resources run into hundreds of thousands or millions pounds, you can publish the Daily Worker, Daily Express, etc.: if not you may have to be content with a monthly journal. But what about the possibility of the “free” expression of varied points of view in the columns of those and other journals with the big circulations? This again is a very narrowly circumscribed possibility when it is a question of securing publicity for a minority and not popular point of view, such as that of the S.P.G.B. When daily newspapers misreport matters of concern to us, or when they refuse to publish our letters or advertisements, there is no remedy—and this notwithstanding the existence of the Press Council, which is supposed to keep an eye on the conduct of the Press.

(From front page article by ‘H’, Socialist Standard, July 1957)