'Morning Star' relaunched to stave off closure threat

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Indy Politics
THE Communist Morning Star newspaper yesterday relaunched itself in a desperate attempt to broaden its appeal and avoid bankruptcy.

The Star, formerly the Daily Worker, has cried wolf before. Now the daily is finally and imminently in danger of closure, according to staff. Some give it two or three months at the most if the initiative fails.

Its association with the eastern bloc once sustained it. Now the paper's identification with a brand of Marxist-Leninism, some would say Stalinism, is thought to be the principal cause of its financial difficulties and its continuing decline in circulation, now heading below 7,000. Two years ago the Communist countries took 6,000 copies a day. Ken Gill, chair of the co-operative which owns the Star, said: 'A wounding blow was felt by the collapse of the USSR. To many people it was a blow to humanity and certainly it was a blow to the Morning Star.'

Yesterday at a lunchtime meeting in Blackpool, Mr Gill, former general secretary of the Manufacturing Science Finance union, appealed for support from left-wing comrades. The newspaper would be put on an even keel with a circulation increase of between two and three thousand, he said.

'There is no cause more appropriate to socialism than maintaining the Morning Star,' he said. It was the only paper that adopted a 'consistent working-class line'.

The Star's dedicated staff are being paid two and sometimes three months in arrears. Journalists based at the Hackney headquarters in east London earn pounds 10,500 a year and are paid expenses sporadically.

Mary Rosser, chief executive, put a brave face on the financial position. Unlike the staff she believes there is no danger of the newspaper folding. 'Our position would be envied by some private companies,' she said. The workers' pay was only three weeks behind schedule.

Several senior union leaders have signed up to the newspaper's campaign: Rodney Bickerstaffe, president of the TUC and general secretary of the public service union Nupe; Jimmy Knapp, leader of the rail and sea workers; Jack Adams, deputy general secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union; and Tony Dubbins, leader of the printworkers.