by James Loveland
We need your help to raise £20,000 to set our paper up for crucial year ahead
MORNING STAR editor Richard Bagley issued a rallying cry to supporters yesterday to give their paper a Christmas boost before a “make-or break” 2014.
He backed the paper’s appeal for a last big push to meet the 2013 Fighting Fund shortfall after a roller-coaster 12 months for the movement.
Hundreds have already responded to the special December appeal launched by organiser Ivan Beavis two weeks ago.
But the paper still needs at least another £19,877 before the January 2 deadline — the nearest date to its 84th birthday on New Year’s Day.
January 2 will also signal the countdown to another crucial date — the 85th anniversary of the first ever Daily Worker on January 1 2015.
Mr Bagley said: “It’s been a massive year for our movement with attacks on trade unions, working-class people and the greed of big business reaching a crescendo.” Press hysteria over the Unite union and the Grangemouth dispute, Tory calls to outlaw strikes on London Underground, and the anti-union Lobbying Bill are “the thin end of the wedge,” he warned.
“This rightwing onslaught will carry on until we draw a red line in the sand and stand united to say: ‘No more.’ “It’s essential that the Morning Star is in a position of strength to help in that battle — and to hold the government to account whatever the outcome at the 2015 election.
“People need real hope and change, not a choice between austerity or austerity-lite.” Mr Bagley praised readers for leading the way this year with high-profile fundraising such as a cross-country bike ride organised by supporters in north-west England, sponsored walks and Morning Star nights.
“Only last week I was up in Leicester where our friends in the Indian Workers Association and local readers had a smashing festive dinner to raise funds for the paper.” Labour movement organisations have heavily backed the Star’s shareholding drive and increasingly recognised the crucial role of the paper over the past year, which saw construction union Ucatt increase its shareholding and take a seat on the board.
The paper has invested in dedicated reporters in Scotland and northern England over the same period.
But it has also been 12 months of reflection where the Morning Star’s internal workings have been put under the microscope, the editor said.
“We’ve been bogged down with paperwork and not been able to spend enough time assisting our activist readers in their fundraising efforts and raising support for our development plans within the movement.
“Staffing shortages haven’t helped,” he admits, “but the workers here bust a gut every day trying to do everything that needs doing and ensure that the paper gets out.” For the past few months plans to bring back-office systems into the 21st century and to develop the website as a new source of income have been progressing steadily.
“I know that there has been some frustration with the pace of our new website, but rest assured that we’re aware of the things that readers want back and they’re all on our hit list.
“The focus so far has been on getting things in place behind the scenes to generate income and help meet the costs of new computers and technology that we’ll have to find in 2014.
“We’ve made encouraging progress with trade union regions interested in bulk buying our new app, which will be available in the new year.
“Anyone who’s interested in being part of this bulk-buy trial should get in touch with our new online sales and marketing manager Calvin (calvintucker@ peoples-press.com).
“At times it feels like guerrilla warfare — we sometimes joke that it would be easier to get things moving if we could skip a few editions.” Mr Bagley added that that’s not on the agenda, but the paper is seeking new blood on the business side of things to get things moving.
“So we are looking closely at both the commercial and fundraising side of things at the moment — we want to focus outwards rather than inwards.” The editor revealed that the Star is part of a group of likeminded papers in Germany, Luxembourg and Denmark looking to set up a new international news service around the time of the Morning Star’s 85th birthday in 2015.
“The last thing we need going into 2014 is to be looking to cut back when politically we have to be growing in influence — that’s where we have to rely on our supporters to help.
“This is not a charity appeal — everyone has a real role to play in building the paper they want to see.” n Readers can ring in donations on (020) 8510-0815 Monday to Friday (10am-5pm) or donate online at http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/ support. Cheques payable to People’s Press Fighting Fund should be sent to Xmas Appeal, Ivan Beavis, 52 Beachy Road, London E3 2NS.
This article first appeared in the Morning Star