Stephen Glover: 'Even now, it is hard to believe that we did it'

 

Another world. On the evening of 6 October 1986, ITV's News at Ten leads with a story about the Conservative Party conference in Bournemouth. There is an item about a sunken Soviet nuclear submarine. Only towards the end of the bulletin is there mention of "Britain's first new quality newspaper for more than a century" and pictures of copies rolling off the presses.

The first advertisement in the "break" is for The Independent. A young man is repeatedly hit on the head with a newspaper as we hear opinionated voices in the background. "In our opinion." Smack. "But in our opinion." Another smack, more violent. And then a smooth, reassuring voice tells us about a wonderful new newspaper that will be financially and politically independent. "From October 7. The Independent. It is. Are you?"

What a long time ago it seems and yet I can remember, I can feel, the optimism and excitement. The day began like any other. We had been producing dummies for weeks. There is a sense of calm in our offices on the edge of the City, of people going about their business as usual. At the morning conference the news is thin. Andreas Whittam Smith, the editor, sits bent forward, pencil in hand, peering at the news list as though further excitements might be wrung from it. Jonathan Fenby, the home editor, reads out some relatively unspectacular offerings. As foreign editor, I recite an equally unexceptional foreign list. Patrick Marnham is with the Pope in southern France. James Fenton has done a piece about cooking a goat for Muslim rebels in the Philippines.

A visitor from Mars might conclude we had been doing this all our lives. The only oddity is the intrusive television cameras, which begin to infuriate Whittam Smith. He suddenly snaps that they will have to be removed unless the TV crew stops chattering. All of us are nervous beneath the surface. During the afternoon a bottle of champagne arrives for Whittam Smith from the editor of The Daily Telegraph, generally believed to be our main rival, with an ironic note of congratulations.

Shortly after midnight, copies of the paper arrive from Sittingbourne, the nearest of our four contract printers to London. What incredulous pride we feel. Even now it is hard to believe that we have produced a new newspaper. There is a party and champagne, and Whittam Smith makes a short speech, thanking everyone for their hard work. He raises his glass to The Independent.

The next day, pundits have prophecies of doom for the fledgling title. (The Telegraph editor sends us a wreath.) The following months will be hard, but those of us who were there on the first day knew we were part of something important that we would never forget.

We would have been ecstatic – and perhaps a little surprised – to know that a quarter of a century later our new newspaper had survived.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Account Executive / Account Manager

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive / Account Manager is ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Social Media Account Writers

£12000 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This social media management pr...

Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor (Magazine Publishing) - Wimbledon - £23-26K

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor - Wimbledon...

Ashdown Group: Editor (Magazines/Publishing) - Wimbledon - £26-30K

£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Editor (Magazines/Publish...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement