Tribune
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As a member of the Socialist League in the 1930s, Foot became friends with Barbara Betts, and was to be an acolyte of Nye Bevan, operating in a circle which included Foot's mentor, Stafford Cripps. The Spanish Civil War was to cement the outrage which many felt at the time regarding the seemingly endless march of European fascism. This was not reflected in the proceedings at the 1936 Labour conference in Edinburgh, which found Attlee ambivalent in defence of the Republic.

Cripps' response to the official lethargy was to move the Socialist League into a group containing the Independent Labour Party and the official Communist Party, led by Harry Pollitt. This group, dubbing itself the Unity Campaign, was quickly denounced by Transport House. But it launched a new socialist magazine, Tribune, financed by Cripps himself and George Strauss.

This was officially seen as being a troublemaker's paper. The first editor was William Mellor, assisted by Betts and Foot. Nye Bevan contributed parliamentary sketches, beginning by decrying the reverence shown by the Labour Party towards the political establishment during the abdication of Edward VII.

To start with, the paper failed to meet its circulation targets, and there was some antagonism between board members. Cripps asked the paper to support a communist-backed Popular Front of anti- Chamberlain political groups. Mellor, the editor, disagreed with this line and was sacked. Foot was disgusted at this and also resigned. As the paper moved to a Popular Front position, the Labour hierarchy at Transport House began disciplinary proceedings. Cripps, Bevan and Strauss were expelled from the Party in 1939.

Tribune's influence was to continue in greater proportion to its sales, and Michael Foot continues to play a role within the paper. The 1946 'Save Europe Now' received attention for its appeal to help starving Germans. In 1948 Foot became co-editor, with an impressive staff including George Orwell as literary editor, and John Berger, Roy Fuller and Sean O'Casey as contributors. At times it had been covertly funded by Foot's friends, such as Lord Beaverbrook. By the early 1950s funds were running dry after Lord Kemsley sued the paper for libel.

The paper relaunched in 1952, after the attack on Gaitskell, in a new tabloid form. Using colourful and excited language, it aimed to stimulate, and became a credited nursery for rising young journalists. Foot gave the editorship to Robert Edwards in 1952, but returned as editor in 1955 - and by 1956 the NEC was full of Bevanites chosen by Party members.

Despite the growing influence of right-wing union bosses such as Arthur Deakon, and their prodigies such as Gaitskell, Tribune succeeded in setting an agenda that has become increasingly recognised as that of the New Left. In the 1950s both Tribune and the New Statesman initiated the campaigns for nuclear disarmament.

Following an internationalist agenda, the ideas then elucidated look well ahead of their time, even if liberals later were to focus mainly on these international themes - rather than the conditions in Britain's depressed areas, that motivated much of Tribune's early work.


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