Save the Daily Mirror

The Mirror is a key part of Labour’s fightback against the coalition. We can’t afford for it to be c

Every morning on his way home from his shift at the pit, my father would collect the Daily Mirror. Apart from the Daily Herald it was the only newspaper allowed in our home in Wigan. It was the newspaper of my childhood and I continue to buy it.

Now, more than ever, Labour needs the Daily Mirror -- a national newspaper to challenge the Conservative-dominated media and coalition.

We must rescue the paper from the clutches of a greedy, asset-stripping CEO.

For over 100 years, the Daily Mirror has been the paper of the left.

It is the paper that helped build support for the NHS after the world war.

It gave us the dynamic and radical journalism of Marjorie Proops, Paul Foot, Roy Greenslade, Alastair Campbell and Piers Morgan.

It was the only popular newspaper to speak out from the start against the invasion of Iraq.

It was the only paper to back Labour in 2010.

Now, under cover of the new Con-Dem government, the Mirror Group chief executive, Sly Bailey, is killing off a newspaper read daily across Britain by Labour's supporters.

Last week Trinity Mirror announced that 35 per cent of the journalists working across the three national titles would face redundancy.

Bolstered by her 66 per cent bonus rise in 2009 -- knowing Labour is distracted by a leadership election, and sure of support from the Con-Dem government -- Sly Bailey is killing off Labour's link to millions of readers.

Even though the axing of 1,700 staff, the freezing of wages and the disposal of 30 publications in 2009 helped Trinity Mirror stay comfortably in profit.

As the Wall Street Journal has noted:

"Her strategy of delivering shareholder value doesn't seem to extend to much beyond culling staff when the going gets tough."

Today's limited staff work 15-hour days to produce the newspaper.

So there is no slack to cut, if the paper is to maintain its relevance, radicalism and popular appeal.

A tiny skeleton staff will fill the paper with wire reports, like the Daily Express.

Mirror journalists will no longer have the resources to challenge the government, to oppose illegal wars, to investigate wrongdoing or to stand up for the rights of working people.

If stripping the paper of its journalistic assets were not bad enough, Sly is squeezing the Mirror's Labour-supporting readers dry.

Abusing readers' loyalty, she has bumped up the price of the paper to 45p -- more than double the price of the Sun in parts of the country. If Richard Desmond's threat to cut the price of the Daily Star in July materialises, the Daily Mirror will cost four times the price of the Star.

So Bailey expects Mirror readers to pay a premium for a product that she is hollowing out of good writing talent and experience.

Join us in calling for the resignation of Sly Bailey -- and fight for investment in the journalists that have built a great national Labour daily.

Anni Marjoram was adviser on women's issues to Ken Livingstone (2000-2008).

Getty
Show Hide image

At Labour conference, activists and politicians can't avoid each other – but try their best to "unsee"

My week, from havoc in the Labour family to a sublime act of real-life trolling – via a shopping centre.

I like to take a favourite novel with me to party conference for when it all gets too much, and this year I took China Miéville’s The City & the City. It takes place in the fictional cities of Besžel and Ul Qoma, two metropolises that exist in the same geographic space but must dutifully “unsee” one another or risk the sanction of Breach, the secret police force. It turned out to be a better allegory for what was going on outside my hotel than I had expected.

Labour, as I don’t need to tell you, is badly split on almost everything. Now that the acrid leadership race has reached its inevitable conclusion, activists and politicians on both sides are operating as if they had a standing duty to “unsee” each other. The atmosphere feels a bit like a family dinner after a blazing row: everyone is aware that things have been said that will take years to be forgiven, if they ever will be, so the conversation is largely banal and superficial.

The exception is the conference floor, the only place where Corbynites and Corbynsceptics cannot unsee each other, which was therefore the scene of several acrimonious confrontations after tricky votes. It’s difficult to predict where Labour goes from here. The Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) is largely against a split, but its members surely can’t spend the next four years dutifully pretending not to see one another,or their activists?

 

Chaos and confusion

Would it have been better for Jeremy Corbyn if his defeated challenger, Owen Smith, had done a little bit better against him – not just in the final vote but throughout the contest? All summer, Smith distinguished himself only through his frequent gaffes, to the point where it felt more appropriate to describe him as a participant in the leadership race rather than a combatant.

The difficulty for both Corbyn and his critics is that his opponents in the PLP have no clear leader. As a result, their dissatisfaction is amorphous, rather than being productively channelled into a set of specific demands or criticisms, which Corbyn could then reject or accept. The overwhelming feeling about his leadership among the PLP is that “something must be done”. So whenever an MP embarks on a freelance assault – Margaret Hodge’s no-confidence motion, say, or Clive Betts’s attempt to bring back elections to the shadow cabinet – the majority leaps on the scheme. Corbyn’s critics reason that at least it’s something.

Although fractious Labour MPs might not see it that way, the decision not to restore shadow cabinet elections helps their cause. Taking away the leader’s ability to choose his ministerial team was a recipe for chaos – chaos that would, rightly, have been blamed on them.

 

Custody rights

If the Labour family would be, as I suspect, better off seeking a divorce, there is an irony that one of the things that they all agree on is the fate of the kids. The party is entirely united behind its leader in his opposition to grammar schools – as is almost every serious thinker on education policy, from Policy Exchange on the right through to Melissa Benn on the left.

Still, Labour will encounter a visceral type of resistance to its stance from the alumni of grammars, who, regardless of what the studies show, attribute their success to their attendance at selective schools. I can understand that. Although I went to a comprehensive, the emotional pull of one’s upbringing is hard to escape. I can, for example, read all the studies that show that children in single-parent families do worse – but I find it hard to experience it as anything other than an awful attack on my mother, to whom I owe everything.

Winning the argument over schooling will require a sensitive ear to those for whom the argument against the schools seems like an attack on their parents.

 

Pudding and pie

One of the nice things about being from a single-parent family is that I don’t have to admit to flaws – merely to unresolved kinks that would have been ironed out had my absent father stuck around. One such kink is my capacity for procrastination, which
results in my making decisions too often at the last minute.

This always comes back to bite me at party conference. At dinner events, I frequently put off picking my meal options to the point that I have to eat whatever the kitchen has left. At one meal this year, I was lucky enough to have three courses of pudding, but at another, my hastily cobbled-together starter seemed to consist entirely of pesto, taramasalata and rocket.

 

Too late

The best thing about party conference is sharing a panel with a politician you don’t know very much about who turns out to be highly impressive. It’s particularly cheering now, when my optimism about politics is at a low ebb. I try to meet them properly for coffee afterwards, although because of my capacity for putting things off, that doesn’t always happen.

Last year, I was chairing a particularly testy fringe on the Israel-Palestine conflict. The then shadow foreign secretary, Hilary Benn, was running late and an MP from the 2015 intake had to field all the questions on her own. She did this with immense poise and knowledge, while clearly having a sense of how unhelpful some of the louder, angrier voices were – during one lengthy monologue from the floor, she turned and rolled her eyes at me. Her name was Jo Cox.

I kept meaning to get to know her, but I never got around to ringing her office, and now I never will.

 

Banter and bargains

A colleague alerts me to a sublime act of real-life trolling. When Everton opened a second branch of its team store in Liverpool’s shopping centre, it picked an innocuous name: Everton Two. Innocuous, that is, until you realise that the shopping centre is called Liverpool One. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics. 

This article first appeared in the 29 September 2016 issue of the New Statesman, May’s new Tories