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."

Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
health
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Campaign Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency is currently ...

BI Analyst

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency in Central Lo...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform