Tribune: After 74 years, is the voice of the literary left about to fall silent?

The weekly of George Orwell and Michael Foot faces closure

The left-wing weekly magazine Tribune's turbulent, 74-year history looks set to end this Friday, when its wealthy and politically ambitious owner, Kevin McGrath, meets the staff and their union representatives.

Last night, a statement on the website of the publication, which counts George Orwell and Michael Foot among its former staff, said: "Tribune is to cease publication in its 75th year.

"Unless arrangements can be found for new ownership or funding within days, the last edition will be next week, November 4... The decision has been made by Tribune Publications 2009 Ltd after a substantial cash injection failed to raise subscriptions and income to target levels."

The company intends to maintain a Tribune website, which will run automated feeds from other left-of-centre sources and will require no staff. All six full-time and part-time employees are to be made redundant."

Their one hope of survival is to persuade Mr McGrath to pay off all the magazine's debts and fund it until the end of the year, while they set up a co-operative which will produce the paper less frequently, and back it up with an online magazine.

"It's a viable alternative, and the labour movement must be given a chance to make it work," says the head of publishing at the National Union of Journalists, Barry Fitzpatrick.

Most people will conclude that Mr Fitzpatrick is whistling in the dark, though it would not be the first time Tribune has escaped from a seemingly hopeless position.

Most magazines start because someone perceives a gap in the market. Tribune was founded in 1937 because the wealthy barrister Stafford Cripps wanted an organ for the campaign to get the main left-wing factions, the Communists, the Independent Labour Party and Mr Cripps' own Socialist League to work together.

Left-wing unity was dead within two years; Tribune outlived it.

In 1956, Tribune sent a Dick Clements, later its longest-lasting editor, to cover the Communist Party conference, and he told me how their leader, Harry Pollitt, growled at him: "You may think Tribune is the organ of Nye Bevan and Michael Foot, but really it's the organ of Trotsky and [Trotskyite leader] Gerry Healy." Mr Pollitt knew no worse insult.

By that time, Mr Foot and Mr Bevan had made Tribune the voice of the Labour Party left. Mr Bevan became editor in 1941, unpaid because the paper was in financial crisis, and scoured Fleet Street for journalists with, as he put it, "good information and bad consciences" who would write and provide stories without payment.

Even Mr Bevan fell foul of the paper in the end. It never forgave him for his desertion of unilateral nuclear disarmament in 1957.

Mr Clements edited it from 1960 to 1982, giving Tribune its longest period of stability and security, sustained by advertising from left-wing trade unions.

After Mr Clements, there was a Bennite candidate, Chris Mullin, and a Kinnockite – soft left – candidate: I was Kinnock's candidate, and not getting the job was a lucky break, for I would have faced a staff united in bitter hostility.

Mr Mullin swung the paper sharply behind Tony Benn and Arthur Scargill, and the paper was nearly destroyed by a bitter legal battle with older shareholders who believed he had no right to do so.

After his departure in 1984, Tribune swung between left-wing factions as editors changed five more times up to its current leadership under Chris McLaughlin.

The paper nearly went bust again in 1988, and again in 2002 when a consortium of trade unions financed a rescue package. In 2004 this started to fall apart, and the new super-union Unite talked of making it a wholly-owned subsidiary – thereby cutting out its other union backers. It had to be rescued again in 2008, this time by Mr McGrath.

Within the Labour Party and the trade unions, Tribune has always had a symbolic importance which goes well beyond its generally small circulation.

Whether it survives is not yet clear, but the statement by the magazine's editorial board last night concluded on a defiant note: "Since its launch in January 1937, Tribune has been a renowned journal of intellectual, literary journalistic and artistic merit.

"As a weekly, independent journal of the labour movement it is needed now more than ever."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Ad Sales - UK Broadcast

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: An award-winning global mul...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel your sales role is l...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Vendor Services Manager (IT) - Central London

£50000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Vendor Services Manager (...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London