Who has not heard of the “Daily Mail’s” exclusive account of the massacre of the Legations at Peking by the Boxers; of the minute details of the awful carnage that didn’t happen? Why was the “exclusive news” published ?
Briefly, the object was to boom the “Daily Mail”—to foster its circulation. And that is the reason the Press to-day is so dangerous to the cause of the working class. The proprietors will publish anything if it pays. Crippen’s confession that wasn’t confessed; speeches by politicians which were never delivered ; battles that were never fought and victories that were never won ; Boers’ blood-curdling brutalities toward natives, and voteless Uitlanders’ unspeakable sufferings. Even the once stately threepenny “Times” showed its foresight and commercial keenness by printing during the height of the Irish campaign a series of letters over Parnell’s signature which he did not write, but which were purchased from Piggott for a few thousand pounds.
This is the great lying Press, and when we have stated— as we often have—that the Socialist Standard is the only clean and reliable working-class paper, we have frequently been met with the cry: “What about the ‘Daily Herald’?” The “Daily Herald”—the paper which, after declaring advertisements taboo because advertisers always dictated the policy of the paper, printed more advertisements than ever, and, like Oliver Twist, asked for more.
Our answer to this question has invariably been that the “Daily Herald” was like the rest of the Press, with the added offensiveness of its Socialist pretences to make it worse.
Just take one example. Larkin has been very widely boomed, praised, and slobbered over by the “Daily Herald” and Syndicalists and Labourites generally. To make a meeting pay it has only been necessary to bring Larkin there, just as, earlier, Victor Grayson was the “star turn” who would assure a “full house.” Hence, while Larkinism lasts the “Daily Herald” means to exploit it.
Mr. Asquith, or, as he is fondly known to students of history, Lord Asquith of Featherstone, elected to contest East Fife again as a result of his taking the office of War Minister.
The question in many minds was, would the Prime Minister be allowed a walk-over, and among certain elements, will the man responsible for those two graves in Featherstone Churchyard be allowed to go scot free back to Parliament.
On the morning of April 1st, however, the flaring headlines of the “Daily Herald” met the gaze of passers by : “Larkin for East Fife.” “To beard Asquith in his own den.’’ “Official Statement.” “If Tories ready to shirk a fight Jim is ready for the fray.” Such were the heavily leaded lines which abstracted the pence from working-class pockets.
The “Daily Herald” went on to say : “The announcement was made yesterday afternoon when he [Larkin] arrived in Dublin from England. Later an official announcement from Liberty Hall Dublin, Mr. Larkin’s headquarters, confirmed the statement that Mr. Larkin will be a candidate in the forthcoming bye election in East Fife. He starts from Dublin for the constituency at once.”
In the body of the paper we were informed :
“Intense interest was taken in the statement from London that Jim Larkin bad decided to stand, and there is every prospect of an exciting contest, as a result of which Mr. Asquith may be easily ‘outed.’”
In the leading article much space is devoted to the “irony” of the situation that finds Mr. Larkin fighting Asquith in East Fife after Asquith had placed him in prison. The leader winds up thus:
“More power to Jim Larkin. In the political as in the industrial arena he is thorough-going and loves to tackle the biggest enemy in sight.”
The day following this leader the lying paper published a special cartoon on its front page, showing election posters bearing the words: Vote for Larkin.
The scare head-lines again extracted the halfpence from Lansbury’s dupes, “Larkin will surely fight,” they announced, and then they went on to talk about bis prospects. To add piquancy to the paper a notice was printed boldly across it, thus : “What to ask Asquith. Don’t give him a single vote TILL he answers these questions! ” Then follow certain silly questions for an intelligent worker to ask.
Now one might think from all this that there was to be a fight in East Fife and that Mr. Jim Larkin was to be the anti-liberal champion. After such “authoritative” news, of course, it was only to be expected. But once again it was only the sensational lies of the muck-heap Press struggling to keep up a circulation. Now let us prove it.
Turning to Larkin’s own newspaper, “The Irish Worker,” for the same week (dated April 4th), we find a leading article, a column and a half in length on the matter of East Fife. The whole of this is written in a vein of fierce condemnation of the lying Press for printing such downright lies as that Larkin was standing for East Fife.
Such phrases as “ brazen-faced monstrosities,” “creatures paid at so much a line,” are used against those who issued the election news. We read on as follows: “He [Larkin] has never had any intention of fighting East Fife, never thought of Fife . . . He does not bother about Parliamentary action ; has no time to waste at present about elections ; he thinks that politics is a dirty game and the present politicians are dirtier than the game they play at, and rather admires sanguinary Asquith for his game of bluff,” etc.
Is further proof required of how low the “ Daily Herald” is ? Is it necessary to adduce other evidence of the dirty and lying nature of this emulator of the Yellow Press ? We venture to ask the nominal editor of the journal in question, Mr. George Lansbury, for an explanation of such brazen lying. Of course we do not expect to get one. Mr. Lansbury, if we are to believe the deposed editor, is simply the nominee of the wealthy supporters of the paper.
We know Mr. Lansbury. A little while since be stated at Bow Baths that the S.P.G.B. was financed by the rich, but he never had tho courage to admit his “mistake” when, in reply to our official challenge, he failed to produce any evidence. We have memories of Lansbury in the old S.D.F. and his fine power of handling the truth cautiously. But as it is said that “While the lamp holds out to burn, the vilest sinner may return,” it is open to Mr. Lansbury even now to take his courage in both hands and come forward and explain that lie in his paper which is just about the limit of lies.