What next for the Independent?

The loss of the Independent titles would be a severe blow to press pluralism. Progressives should su

The Independent's renegade shareholder Denis O'Brien has called time on the uneasy truce between himself and the O'Reilly dynasty by calling for the title, and its Sunday sister, to be closed or sold.

This isn't the first time that O'Brien has called for the Independent titles to be disposed of, but with the paper's parent company, Independent News and Media (INM), threatening to buckle under the weight of a long-overdue loan of £178m he may now get his way.

There are many who would not miss the Independent; however, its closure would leave the Guardian as the only quality progressive daily. That the Independent makes it on to the newsstands at all with a third as many journalists as some of its competitors is achievement enough, but in recent years it has also featured some of the finest foreign affairs journalism on Fleet Street, notably Patrick Cockburn's exemplary reporting from Iraq.

During his time as INM chief executive, Anthony O'Reilly took an admirably paternalistic approach to the title, consistently recognising that its historical value far outweighed its ability to turn a profit.

By contrast, O'Brien, who made his fortune as a mobile-phone tycoon, is a man relentlessly focused on the bottom line and with no conception of the wider value of the Independent titles to the group.

The prestige attached to the titles and the political freedom that successive Independent editors enjoyed under O'Reilly persuaded many papers in the developing world that they would be safe under his stewardship, and ultimately proved profitable for the company.

The closure of the Independent would be a severe blow for press pluralism in this country. Progressives should get behind the title now.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Getty
Show Hide image

Tony Blair won't endorse the Labour leader - Jeremy Corbyn's fans are celebrating

The thrice-elected Prime Minister is no fan of the new Labour leader. 

Labour heavyweights usually support each other - at least in public. But the former Prime Minister Tony Blair couldn't bring himself to do so when asked on Sky News.

He dodged the question of whether the current Labour leader was the best person to lead the country, instead urging voters not to give Theresa May a "blank cheque". 

If this seems shocking, it's worth remembering that Corbyn refused to say whether he would pick "Trotskyism or Blairism" during the Labour leadership campaign. Corbyn was after all behind the Stop the War Coalition, which opposed Blair's decision to join the invasion of Iraq. 

For some Corbyn supporters, it seems that there couldn't be a greater boon than the thrice-elected PM witholding his endorsement in a critical general election. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

0800 7318496