by Nick Wright
Critics of the Morning Star’s presentation of Simon Danczuk’s politics and personality are wrong. And this is why.
There is a clear connection between Danczuk’s changing public persona and the revelations about his hypocrisy, self seeking and personal conduct. This disreputable man is the victim of self delusion about the right wing tabloids – whose tarnished silver he so willingly accepted – and who now have turned on him.
Danczuk put himself at the service of our venal ruling class and the media moguls whose interests they share. It is a lesson for those in Labour’s ranks who play to the class enemy’s tune and who think that they are anything other than ‘useful idiots’ whose services can be dispensed with at any time. No one is immune from ‘monstering’ if political expediency or profit is possible.
In contrast, Claire Hamilton emerges as something of a heroine. It took some strength of character and a clear political consciousness to put her personal life fully in the public eye and allow us to draw the essential political conclusions from her experiences with Danczuk.
Public and political morality do not inhabit separate spheres and exposing the hypocrisy of those set above us in class society (and the even more disreputable renegades who serve them) has a long and honourable tradition in the working class press.
In fact, the exposure of ruling class hypocrisy and the contrast between public and private morality are an important part of our political and visual history. The origins of muckraking and scandal mongering reach back into the era of Cruikshank and Hogarth and find more recent expression in the revealing lines of Georg Groz and the photo montages of John Heartfield.
And in the history of the working class press in Britain the example of the Sunday Worker – which ceased publication when the Daily Worker was launched in 1930 – illustrates just how powerful (and well-recieved among working class readers) such popular journalism is.
The many thousands of the Sunday Worker readers delighted in stories which revealed the gap between the public morality of the aristocracy and ruling class and its private behaviour.
It is to Claud Cockburn –the outstanding Daily Worker journalist and editor of the pre-war muck-raking The Week, which exposed the anti-Soviet and pro-Nazi manoeuvrings of Britain’s elite, and which, for it pains, was banned when the Chamberlain Government, with right wing Labour agreement, banned the Daily Worker, that we owe this tribute to sensation-mongering.
Writing of the pivotal figure of Comintern media chief Willi Munzenberg on the convergence of politically committed journalism and the mass circulation press he illustrated Munzenberg’s key role:
“He had snatched the journalism of the extreme left from the hands of the pedants, insisted that a modern revolutionary newspaper could be as popular as an old-time revolutionary broadsheet, and that the technical tricks, skills, and appeal of the stunting, pandering, sensation mongering’s press were not to be despised but to be learned.”
Super rrreveonutionary pedants, from the same school of thought and from the best of motives, argued against the Daily Worker carrying sports stories and betting tips for fear that the workers might be diverted from their historic task of replacing the capitalist class with the working class.
They were mistaken. When the character of the Second World war changed and the Daily Worker was legal ahgain, it buiult a vbery big circulation desp[ite covering sport and, with the outstandingly successful tipster Cayton, regularly robbing the bookies in the service of the working class.
It is true that Britain’s libel laws put impecunious papers like the Morning Star at risk but when a classic story like the umasking of Danczuk comes along the Star was absolutely right to give it the Comintern treatment.