Editorial: Newspapers and Politics

Many people are sceptical when we point out that the capitalists will always be prepared to take over reform demands after they have been made popular through the spadework of the reformist Labour Parties, thus destroying the value of the work as a basis for working class organisation. It has been argued by our opponents that this may be true with regard to some unimportant items, but that the really first-class demands in the Labour programme would never be stomached by capitalist politicians or by the capitalist press. Recently we have had some remarkable illustrations to show that our criticism has not been overstated. Most outstanding is the London Passenger Transport Act. Introduced by the Labour Government, it has been adopted with secondary alterations by the National Government, and we see the City editors of most of the newspapers telling their readers that the shares of the undertaking are quite a sound investment. Among them is the Daily Herald, the City page of which carried a special article recommending the various classes of shares to its readers.


Then there is the entertaining struggle for bigger circulations carried on by the Daily Herald and the Daily Express. Finding that the Labour daily was capturing his readers, Lord Beaverbrook gave his Daily Express several new policies. If the Labour Party stood for higher wages so would he, and for two years or more the Express has vigorously attacked wage reductions, and has even stolen a march on the Herald by including the Co-operative Societies among the wage-reducers, whom it denounces.


When the I.L.P. launched its programme of State control of the banks, Lord Beaverbrook replied post-haste with a demand for complete State banking. When he saw that peace propaganda was something of a draw he launched (during May, 1933) a vigorous campaign for “ No More War.*’ On the question of the “gold standard” he is ahead of the Herald, because he claims that he consistently opposed it for years. He opposed “economies,” and chides the Herald with having backed up the wage reductions and economies imposed or planned by the Labour Government in 1931 prior to its break-up.


The narrowness of the line of demarcation between the “Labour” Daily Herald and the Tory Daily Express can also be illustrated by the transfer of journalists. The Daily Herald’s first move after Odhams took over the management was to hire a number of well-known journalists at that time on the staff of the Daily Express —almost like the transfer of professional footballers from one team to another. One of these journalists publicly stated at the time of his transfer that he still retained the political views which endeared him to Lord Beaverbrook, and one appears now to have returned whence he came.


An interesting sidelight on the relative importance of finance and politics in the publication of political newspapers was provided on June 1st, when readers who were wasteful enough to pay twice for the day’s thimbleful of news, by buying an Express as well as a Herald were able to read two signed articles by the same journalist, one being prominently featured on the leader page of the Express and the other similarly displayed on the leader page of the Herald. With small alterations of phraseology the two articles (dealing with the political situation in Austria and the political situation in England) could have been transposed without the readers feeling that there was anything amiss.