Ike Horvitch

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If you believed that The Guardian, edited in Cape Town from 1937, was an "independent newspaper" [obituary of Ike Horvitch by Gerald Isaaman, 10 January], you might as well believe in the tooth fairy, writes Paul Trewhela.

With all respect to Ike Horvitch, the reality was more prosaic. While nominally not controlled by the Party, The Guardian (which he sold in the streets as a young man) "always took a line strongly in favour of Communists and their fellow travellers", in the words of the former CPSA leader Eddie Roux (recalled in Roux's 1970 autobiography, Rebel Pity).

Under the headline "All Support for the Soviet Union", its issue for 26 June 1941 reported the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union with a call to "Defend the Cause of Liberty, Democracy and Human Decency". Human decency! Circumstances were now quite different to what they had been only a week previously, The Guardian argued.

Courageous though it was in its opposition to the racist regime in South Africa, The Guardian was a newspaper which ardently supported the Gulag, the Moscow Trials and the Stalin-Hitler Pact. This newspaper, in particular, should guard the term "independent".