Letter: Left off the shelf

Sir: How kind of John O'Farrell (Media, 15 June) to invite others to rush out and buy a copy of Tribune, Red Pepper or the New Statesman. But methinks that some time has passed since he rushed out to WH Smith to buy a left-wing newspaper or magazine. The chances are that all he would have found were copies of Guns and Ammo and Slimming Magazine.

For WH Smith have substantially reduced the number of outlets in which political newspapers and magazines such as Tribune and the New Statesman are available. The scope for passing trade has all but disappeared, and effort is instead concentrated on building up subscription sales.

WH Smith has been surprisingly reluctant to accept that a healthy democracy requires a real choice in political reading matter. Even the threat of a picket of their head office by Michael Foot and Auberon Waugh, whose Literary Review magazine has suffered similar WH Smith censorship, failed to move them. They continue to refuse to stock us except in a handful of outlets. Instead they offer a "magazine ordering service" which no one, least of all their staff, appears to have heard of.

So sorry, John, yet more of the feel-bad factor. But didn't we get it right over monopoly capitalism and the myth of choice?

MARK SEDDON

Editor, Tribune

London WC1

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