Right of Reply: Hilary Wainright

The editor of Red Pepper responds to an article on the left-wing press by John O'Farrell
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The Independent Culture
I SLEPT badly last night, after John O'Farrell had rammed home the awful truth that Guns and Ammo Monthly and Asian Babes reach thousands more people than my own journal, Red Pepper.

Here's me editing a magazine that champions the aspirations of the people against the contempt of politicians and multinationals, and the people, it seems, are more interested in flesh and military hardware. What should I do? Buy a copy of G&A Monthly and choose a stylish weapon to put a personal end it all? Publish exposes of the sex lives of Vanessa Redgrave, Tariq Ali and Swampy?

Politicians blame the people for a low turnout. "Apathy," they declare, as if a sudden rash had broken out. An editor of a political magazine funded solely by sales has to be more attentive to what "the people" think. Thousands are creating their own kind of political action: the 50,000 in London last Sunday making human chains to protest at Third World debt; the tens of thousands round the country organising coalitions against GM food. Red Pepper is about these ideals.

John O'Farrell should recognise the huge challenges we face. To be displayed at a major newsagent's at London rail stations, Red Pepper would have to pay pounds 2,000 a week. Impossible. You need a degree in ingenuity to buy Red Pepper. Elsewhere in Europe there is legislation, passed in the course of rebuilding democracy at the end of the last war, for the right of magazines and newspapers to be publicly available. If we had such legislation Red Pepper's dramatic covers might divert some readers from their monthly fix of arms and porn. Whether they stayed with us would depend on connecting with their more sociable obsessions.

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