Union cash injection rescues 'Tribune' from the clutches of capitalists

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The Independent Online

An impoverished socialist magazine that counts George Orwell among its former columnists has been saved from the clutches of capitalist predators.

Recently stalked by a series of sugar daddies with deep pockets and unacceptable politics, Tribune has been rescued by Britain's biggest unions.

The publication, which does not pay its contributors and barely remunerates its permanent staff, is seen as the notice board for all those in the Labour Party opposing New Labour and as such is regarded with deep irritation by the Government.

In return for a 51 per cent shareholding, the magazine will receive £300,000 over the next three years from Unison, Amicus, the RMT, Aslef and the ISTC.

It is hoped that the Transport & General, the GMB and the Fire Brigades Union will join the consortium set up to save the journal, which also counts Aneurin Bevan and Michael Foot among its former editors.

Another 15 per cent stake will be taken by John Moores, the charity patron and Littlewoods football pools magnate, in return for a donation of £100,000.

Mr Moores will not be taking a seat on the board. Another 34 per cent will be held in trust on behalf of the staff.

Mr Foot, the 90-year-old former leader of the Labour Party, said the proposal from the unions, which is due to be announced next month, would secure the future of the publication. He said yesterday: "I'm naturally very pleased it guarantees us for another 100 years.''

The businessmen who declared an interest in taking over the 66-year-old magazine have remained anonymous, but one was thought to be an international property speculator and another had strong trading links with China.

Supporters of the deal to rescue the journal said that the board would guarantee the independence of the editorial content.

Apart from its parlous financial state, Tribune was also concerned that it might have been evicted from its offices in a mansion in Hampstead, north London, by its landlord, the train drivers' union, Aslef. The new general secretary of the union, Shaun Brady, is known to be unsympathetic to Labour left-wingers. But it is thought that his predecessor, the left-winger Mick Rix, had committed the organisation to the agreement before he was voted out.

Last year, Tribune faced extinction after Sir Ken Jackson, the then joint general secretary of Amicus, threatened it with legal action for libel.