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).

Photo: Getty Images
Show Hide image

Autumn Statement 2015: George Osborne abandons his target

How will George Osborne close the deficit after his U-Turns? Answer: he won't, of course. 

“Good governments U-Turn, and U-Turn frequently.” That’s Andrew Adonis’ maxim, and George Osborne borrowed heavily from him today, delivering two big U-Turns, on tax credits and on police funding. There will be no cuts to tax credits or to the police.

The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that, in total, the government gave away £6.2 billion next year, more than half of which is the reverse to tax credits.

Osborne claims that he will still deliver his planned £12bn reduction in welfare. But, as I’ve written before, without cutting tax credits, it’s difficult to see how you can get £12bn out of the welfare bill. Here’s the OBR’s chart of welfare spending:

The government has already promised to protect child benefit and pension spending – in fact, it actually increased pensioner spending today. So all that’s left is tax credits. If the government is not going to cut them, where’s the £12bn come from?

A bit of clever accounting today got Osborne out of his hole. The Universal Credit, once it comes in in full, will replace tax credits anyway, allowing him to describe his U-Turn as a delay, not a full retreat. But the reality – as the Treasury has admitted privately for some time – is that the Universal Credit will never be wholly implemented. The pilot schemes – one of which, in Hammersmith, I have visited myself – are little more than Potemkin set-ups. Iain Duncan Smith’s Universal Credit will never be rolled out in full. The savings from switching from tax credits to Universal Credit will never materialise.

The £12bn is smaller, too, than it was this time last week. Instead of cutting £12bn from the welfare budget by 2017-8, the government will instead cut £12bn by the end of the parliament – a much smaller task.

That’s not to say that the cuts to departmental spending and welfare will be painless – far from it. Employment Support Allowance – what used to be called incapacity benefit and severe disablement benefit – will be cut down to the level of Jobseekers’ Allowance, while the government will erect further hurdles to claimants. Cuts to departmental spending will mean a further reduction in the numbers of public sector workers.  But it will be some way short of the reductions in welfare spending required to hit Osborne’s deficit reduction timetable.

So, where’s the money coming from? The answer is nowhere. What we'll instead get is five more years of the same: increasing household debt, austerity largely concentrated on the poorest, and yet more borrowing. As the last five years proved, the Conservatives don’t need to close the deficit to be re-elected. In fact, it may be that having the need to “finish the job” as a stick to beat Labour with actually helped the Tories in May. They have neither an economic imperative nor a political one to close the deficit. 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.