Morning Star (British newspaper)

Morning Star

Front page of the Morning Star from 4 December 2014
Type Daily newspaper
Format Tabloid
Owner(s) People's Press Printing Society[1]
Editor Ben Chacko
Founded 1930 (as Daily Worker)
1966 (as Morning Star)
Political alignment Socialism
Left-wing politics
Trade unionism
Headquarters William Rust House, 52 Beachy Road, Bow, London E3 2NS
Circulation 10,000 [2]

Morning Star is a left-wing British daily tabloid newspaper with a focus on social, political and trade union issues.[3] Articles and comment columns are contributed by writers from socialist, communist, social democratic, green and religious perspectives.[3]

The paper was founded in 1930 as the Daily Worker, organ of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). Since 1945, it has been owned by the People's Press Printing Society. It was renamed the Morning Star in 1966. The paper's editorial stance is in line with Britain's Road to Socialism, the programme of the Communist Party of Britain.[4]

The Daily Worker (1930–1966)

Early years

The Morning Star was founded in 1930 as the Daily Worker, the organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Great Britain.[5] The first edition was produced on 1 January 1930[6] from the offices of the newspaper in Tabernacle Street, London, by eight Party members including Kay Beauchamp.[7] In January 1934 The Daily Worker's offices moved to Cayton Street off City Road. On 1 October 1935, the first eight-page Daily Worker was produced.

World War II

On 3 September 1939, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain spoke to the nation on the BBC, at which time he announced the formal declaration of war between Britain and Nazi Germany. Daily Worker editor J. R. Campbell, backed by his political ally, Party General Secretary Harry Pollitt, sought to portray the conflict against Hitler as a continuation of the anti-fascist fight.[8]

This contradicted the position of the Comintern in the aftermath of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact (which became CPGB policy on 3 October), that the war was a struggle between rival imperialist powers, and Campbell was removed as editor as a result, being replaced by William Rust.[9] The paper accused the British government's policies of being "not to rescue Europe from fascism, but to impose British imperialist peace on Germany" before attacking the Soviet Union.[9] The newspaper responded to the assassination of Leon Trotsky by a Soviet agent with an article on 23 August 1940 entitled "A Counter Revolutionary Gangster Passes", written by former editor Campbell.[10]

The paper criticised Sir Walter Citrine after a Paris meeting with French Labour Minister Charles Pomaret in December 1939. Time said of the events following the meeting, "Minister Pomaret clamped down on French labour with a set of drastic wage-&-hour decrees and Sir Walter Citrine agreed to a proposal by Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir John Simon that pay rises in Britain be stopped".[11]

Citrine sued the Daily Worker for libel after it accused him and his associates of "plotting with the French Citrines to bring millions of Anglo-French Trade Unionists behind the Anglo-French imperialist war machine"; the publisher pleaded the British press equivalent of 'fair comment'. Citrine alleged, in response to his lawyer's questioning, that the Daily Worker received £2,000 pounds per month from "Moscow", and that Moscow directed the paper to print anti-war stories.[11] During this period, when the Soviet Union was in alliance with Germany, the Daily Worker ceased to attack Nazi Germany and advocated policies that some perceived as seeking to undermine the war effort.[12] For this reason in January 1941 the newspaper was suppressed by the wartime coalition's (Labour) Home Secretary, Herbert Morrison.[12]

Following the German army's invasion of the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa, from June 1941 onwards, the situation changed. From 1942, and for the rest of the war, the paper was a strong supporter of the British war effort, and campaigned to organise a "Second Front" in Europe to assist the Soviet Union.[13] The government's ban on the Daily Worker was lifted in September 1942 following a campaign supported by Hewlett Johnson, the Dean of Canterbury, and Professor J. B. S. Haldane. A "Lift the ban" conference at Central Hall, Westminster on 21 March 1942 was attended by over 2,000 delegates. A key part of the campaign was to secure Labour Party support (Herbert Morrison was a fierce opponent of the Daily Worker). On 26 May 1942, after a heated debate, the Labour Party carried a resolution declaring the Government must lift the ban on the Daily Worker.

During the ban the Daily Worker offices at Cayton Street were totally destroyed by fire during The Blitz on 16 April 1941. The paper moved temporarily in 1942 to the former Caledonian Press offices in Swinton Street (from where the old Communist Party Sunday Worker edited by William Paul had been printed from 15 March 1925 until 1929). In 1945 new offices were acquired at a former brush makers warehouse at 75 Farringdon Road, London EC1 for the sum of £48,000. A Scottish edition of the Daily Worker was produced from its plant in Glasgow from 11 November 1940.

The Daily Worker welcomed the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, editorialising "The employment of the new weapon on a substantial scale should expedite the surrender of Japan".[14][15] The paper also applauded the bombing of Nagasaki, and called for the use of additional atomic bombs against the Japanese.[14]

Since September 1945 the paper has been owned and published by a readers' co-operative, the People's Press Printing Society, which operates on a one-vote-per-shareholder basis.


The Daily Worker was fully supportive of the show trials in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria in the late 1940s as well as the split with Tito and Yugoslavia in 1948.[16]

In 1956, the Daily Worker suppressed correspondent Peter Fryer's reports from the Hungarian revolution, which had been favourable to the uprising.[17] The paper denounced the events as a "white terror", invoking the Horthy regime and earlier 1919–1921 period.[18]

By the late 1950s the paper was down to just one sheet of four pages. The last edition of the Daily Worker was published on Saturday 23 April 1966. An editorial in that final issue declared:

"On Monday this newspaper takes its greatest step forward for many years. It will be larger, it will be better and it will have a new name.... During its 36 years of life our paper has stood for all that is best in British working-class and Socialist journalism. It has established a reputation for honesty, courage and integrity. It has defended trade unionists, tenants, pensioners. It has consistently stood for peace. It has always shown the need for Socialism. Let all Britain see the Morning Star, the inheritor of a great tradition and the herald of a greater future".

In February every year between 1950 and 1954 the Daily Worker held a rally at Harringay Arena in Harringay, north London.[19] Attended by about 10,000 people, guests were entertained by tableaux set to music. Paul Robeson also sent recorded messages which were played during the rallies.[20]

Morning Star (1966–present)


The first edition of the Morning Star appeared on Monday, 25 April 1966. South African exile Sarah Carneson worked for the paper in the late 1960s.[21]

By the late 1970s, the paper and the CPGB were beginning to come into conflict with each other, as the Eurocommunist trend in the CPGB grew, while the Morning Star at the time retained a pro-Soviet stance and opposed eurocommunism.[22] In December 1981, when the Polish Solidarity trade union movement was suppressed and martial law declared, the paper criticised the Executive Committee of the party for condemning the acts of the (then communist) Polish government.[23] In 1982, the Morning Star attacked the attitudes of Marxism Today, the party's monthly journal, which was controlled by the eurocommunists.[24]

The newspaper attracted some wider media attention in September 1981 when the BBC paid to place six advertisements for its Russian-language service in the Morning Star, which was the only English-language newspaper that the USSR's government allowed to be circulated in the country. Four of these advertisements were printed as agreed, but the last two of the six were not printed. A spokesman for the newspaper said that the advertising department had not properly consulted with other teams before making the agreement, and that the BBC's broadcasts were part of Cold War propaganda.[25]

The paper supported the National Union of Mineworkers during the miners' strike of 1984–1985, but the party had become critical of Scargill's strategy towards the end of the strike.[26] Meanwhile, the party EC put forward candidates to challenge those loyal to Morning Star editor Tony Chater, and his deputy, at the 1984 AGM of the PPPS and called for Chater's replacement. He was expelled from the CPGB at this time,[27] but in June 1985 AGMs of the PPPS held in Glasgow, Manchester and London voted by about 60 to 40% for candidates backed by the management committee of the Morning Star.[28] Chater remained editor of the paper for another decade.

Successive annual general meetings of the People's Press Printing Society have agreed that the policy of the paper is founded on Britain's Road to Socialism, the programme of the Communist Party of Britain.[29]

In the 1990s, the publication's circulation fell to 7,000, following the end of bulk sales to the now defunct Soviet Union, and in 1998 many of its workers went on strike. These strikes were provoked by the sacking of John Haylett as editor.[30] During the protest a breakaway from the Morning Star, the Workers' Morning Star was formed, and published by a small group of journalists who worked for the Morning Star at the same time.[31] This paper was discontinued before the end of the decade. Haylett was eventually reinstated as editor and the protests stopped, as the circulation saw a moderate increase.

Although the paper is normally published from Monday to Saturday, on Sunday 13 September 2015, the Morning Star was issued for the first time on a Sunday to cover the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party.[32]

Editorial policy

On international issues the paper advocates a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and calls for Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories. It was the only daily paper in Britain to oppose the Kosovo War, denouncing military intervention by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and consistently defended Serbian President Slobodan Milošević, according to other publications,[33] and opposed NATO in the 1999 Kosovo War against what remained of the former Yugoslavia. The newspaper also opposed the Iraq War.

On Northern Ireland the paper takes a pro-Irish nationalism line. News reports from Northern Ireland are described as "By Our Foreign Desk".

As its masthead suggests, the paper generally supports peace and socialism. It is Eurosceptic and supported the No2EU platform in the 2009 European Parliament election. It is critical of the upper or ruling classes. It defends peaceful protests and civil disobedience and industrial action by workers to improve working conditions and wages. The Morning Star is concerned with environmental issues and supports environment campaigning groups; it advocates unilateral nuclear disarmament. The paper advocates a vote for the Labour Party in most seats, except for the handful in which the Communist Party has a candidate.

Contributors and staff

Contributor Jeremy Corbyn

In the first years of the twenty-first century the paper has carried contributions from Uri Avnery, John Pilger, Green activist Derek Wall, ex-Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, Green MP Caroline Lucas, former MPs George Galloway and Alan Simpson (Respect and Labour), the cartoonist Martin Rowson, and many trade union general secretaries. Features are contributed by writers from a range of socialist, social democratic, green and religious perspectives. Despite this, according to John Haylett in 2005: "things that happened in the Soviet Union 70 years ago are still being used as a stick to beat the Morning Star."[3]

On 1 January 2009, Bill Benfield took over as editor of the Morning Star.[34] John Haylett, who had been editor since 1995, took up the post of political editor. Bill Benfield had previously been deputy editor and head of production.

In May 2012, Richard Bagley became editor of the Morning Star,[35] having already worked at the paper in various positions since 2001. In July 2014 he stepped down as editor, with Ben Chacko becoming acting editor,[36] a position in which Chacko was confirmed in May 2015.[37][38]

Finances and circulation

The Morning Star carries little commercial advertising, with low advertising rates,[39] and the cover price does not cover print and distribution. Consequently, the paper has always been dependent on donations from activists, readers, and trade unions. The paper relies on its "Star Fund" appeal (monthly target £16,000).[40] In its past, the paper received subsidy from the Soviet Union in the form of bulk orders. In 1981, its circulation was about 36,000 (down from the Daily Worker's 1947 peak of 122,000).[41]

In March 2005, BBC News Magazine reported the Morning Star's circulation as between 13,000 and 14,000, quoting John Haylett's comment "perhaps only one in 10 of these readers would label themselves as communists",[3] while in August 2006, The Guardian reported the print run to be "around 25,000".[42]

The Morning Star has also taken a much higher profile at trade union gatherings and within the UK trade union movement, particularly with unions such as Unite, GMB, UCATT, FBU, Community, CWU, NUM, Durham Miners, Prison Officers and RMT. Since 2008, the Morning Star has hired exhibition space at the Trades Union Congress, with sponsored copies being handed out to delegates at the TUC, Labour Party Conference, at union conferences and high profile events such as the Tolpuddle Festival and the Durham Miners Gala. The newspaper is also available at independent newsagents and shops such as Martin McColl, in local supermarkets such as Budgens, at railway stations and on motorway service areas.

During the early morning of 28 July 2008, the offices of the newspaper were damaged by fire,[43] and the edition of 29 July took a reduced form.

On 1 June 2009, the Morning Star was re-launched. The re-launch included a 16-page edition during the week, and a 24-page weekend edition priced at £1.20 after a rise in its prices in September 2014.[44] There is no Sunday edition of the newspaper. There was also an expanded use of colour pictures and graphics, plus a redesign and a modern layout of the pages. The Morning Star also redesigned its website. In addition, a number of new and experienced journalists were engaged and the positions of full-time Industrial Correspondent and Lobby Correspondent in the House of Commons were reintroduced.

In November 2011, the Morning Star launched an urgent appeal to raise £75,000 in order to address a number of funding issues which meant the paper might have gone under by the end of the year.[45]

On Monday 18 June 2012, the Morning Star moved to printing at Trinity Mirror two print sites in Watford and Oldham, which improved distribution of the Morning Star to all parts of the country, particularly Scotland.

Online version

An online version of the paper was launched on 1 April 2004. Initially only some parts of the site were free, including a PDF of the paper's front page, the editorial "Star Comment" and all the articles from the culture and sports pages, while features and the actual news were subscription only. On 1 January 2009 this policy was changed, and now all content is freely available online.[46] In April 2012, the paper launched a daily e-edition of the full newspaper, which readers can subscribe to for a small charge.[47]


As the Daily Worker:

1930: William Rust[48]
1933: Jimmy Shields[48]
1935: Idris Cox[48]
1936: Rajani Palme Dutt[48]
1938: Dave Springhall[48]
1939: John Ross Campbell[48]
1939: William Rust[48]
1949: John Ross Campbell
1959: George Matthews

Chairs of the editorial board have included Hewlett Johnson (clergyman known as 'the Red Dean' of Canterbury), although he was not a member of the CPGB.[49]

As the Morning Star:

1966: George Matthews
1974: Tony Chater[50]
1995: John Haylett
2009: Bill Benfield
2012: Richard Bagley
2014: Ben Chacko


  1. Membership page at Co-operatives UK
  2. "Dispatches". the Guardian. Retrieved on 5 December 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Sean Coughlan "Pressing on". BBC News. 21 March 2005. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  4. "(The Morning Star is) in line with Britain's Road to Socialism, the Communist Party of Britain programme that underlies our paper's editorial stance." People's Press Printing Society Annual Report 2009.
  5. "The Papers of the Communist Party of Great Britain", The Archive hub, University of Manchester
  6. "Help for Researchers: Concise History of the British Newspaper in the Twentieth Century", British Library website
  7. "Access to Archives". The National Archives. Retrieved 24 July 2011.
  8. James Eaton and David Renton The Communist Party of Great Britain since 1920, Basingstoke: Pallgrave, 2002, pp.69–70
  9. 1 2 Bill Jones The Russia complex: the British Labour Party and the Soviet Union. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1977, p.38 ISBN 0719006961.
  10. "The death of Trotsky" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  11. 1 2 "Reds, Labor and the War". TIME. 13 May 1940. Retrieved 14 July 2009.
  12. 1 2 Editorial "The 'Daily Worker", Manchester Guardian, 22 January 1941, reprint on The Guardian's website.
  13. Andrew Thorpe, The British Communist Party and Moscow, 1920–43, Manchester University Press, 2000. ISBN 0719053129, p.268.
  14. 1 2 Lawrence S. Wittner, The Struggle Against The Bomb: Volume One, One World Or None. Stanford, California, Stanford University Press, p.172 ISBN 0804721416
  15. David Widgery, The Left in Britain, 1956–68, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976, p.100. ISBN 0140550992
  16. Keith Laybourn Marxism in Britain: Dissent, Decline and Re-emergence 1945-c.2000, Abingdon: Routledge, 2006, p.43
  17. Brotherstone, Terry (3 November 2006). "Peter Fryer" via The Guardian.
  18. Fabricating Authenticity in Soviet Hungary: The Afterlife of the First Hungarian Soviet Republic in the Age of State Socialism Apor, Peter Anthem Press, 2014, ISBN 9780857281104
  19. "Archive of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB)". Retrieved on 5 December 2015.
  20. Issued by Topic Records, two disc release were made in 1950 and 1951. A copy of the 1950 label can be seen on Harringay Online. It is not known if Robeson continued to send recorded messages after 1951.
  21. "Liberation Hero and Ex-Star Worker Sarah Carneson Dies" People's Daily Morning Star (6 November 2015).
  22. Christine F. Collette and Keith Laybourn Modern Britain Since 1979: A Reader, London: I.B. Tauris, 2003, p.185
  23. Laybourn Marxism in Britain, p.116
  24. John Callaghan The Far Left in British Politics, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987, p.186
  25. BBC World Service – Britain's Daily Papers – The Morning Star, broadcast on 26 November 1981, retrieved 23 July 2016
  26. Laybourn Marxism in Britain, p.122
  27. Collette and Laybourn Modern Britain Since 1945, p.190
  28. Callaghan, p.187
  29. People's Press Printing Society Limited 61st Annual Report for Annual General Meeting June 2006, p. 4
  30. "Morning Star Strike (Channel 4 News)". 28 October 2006. Retrieved on 5 December 2015 – via YouTube.
  31. "Morning Star strike (BBC World)". 27 October 2006. Retrieved on 5 December 2015 – via YouTube.
  32. "Morning Star marks Labour result with first Sunday edition". BBC News. 13 September 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  33. See for example Kimber, Charlie (14 October 2000). "Milosevic- a socialist?". Socialist Worker (1718). p. 4. Archived from the original on 23 April 2012. Dark, Roger (12 October 2000). "Try Milosevic!". Weekly Worker (355). Archived from the original on 1 May 2012.
  34. Benfield, Bill (31 December 2008). "New year, old struggles". Morning Star. p. 18.
  35. Bagley, Richard (22 May 2012). "What's next for the Daily Miracle". Morning Star. p. 16.
  36. "Tributes paid to departing Star stalwarts", Morning Star (website), 28 July 2014
  37. "New editor hailed by leading lefties", Morning Star (website), 23 May 2015
  38. Roy Greenslade "Morning Star opts for youth by appointing Ben Chacko as editor", The Guardian, 26 May 2015
  39. "Contact Us". Retrieved 24 July 2011.
  40. "/ Home – Morning Star". Retrieved 24 July 2011.
  41. Tomlinson J. Left Right, London: John Calder, 1981.
  42. Dowell, Ben (3 August 2006). "Morning Star faces Olympic challenge". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  43. "Morning Star offices go up in smoke", Metro, 28 July 2008.
  44. "Morning Star :: Changes to your weekend Morning Star". Retrieved on 5 December 2015.
  45. Sunny Hundal "Morning Star could go under by Christmas", Liberal Conspiracy, 16 November 2011
  46. Richard Bagley "Morning Star Online to go free in 2009", Morning Star website, [c.11] November 2008.
  47. Morning Star Online subscriptions page, Morning Star website, June 2012.
  48. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 James, Klugmann (March 1985). History of the Communist Party of Great Britain: 1927–1941. London: Lawrence & Wishart. p. 57. ISBN 978-0853156123.
  49. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 30. p. 269.
  50. "Tony Chater, editor of the Morning Star – obituary".


Further reading

External links

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