Paul Anderson, Tribune column, 19 May 2006
OK, and now for something to cheer you all up. It’s this magazine’s 70th birthday in six months and I’ve been spending some time beefing up on the history for a collection of George Orwell’s columns for Tribune that — with a bit of luck — should be appearing in time for the celebrations. In the meantime, here’s a quiz, and the first two correct answers to me get free copies of the Orwell book. Answers by snail-mail to Tribune Quiz, Tribune, 9 Arkwright Road, London NW3 6AN or (preferably) by email to email@example.com.
1. Which Tribune editor had a younger brother who became the head of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency?
2. When was the Tribune Group set up?
3. George Orwell was literary editor of Tribune from 1943 to 1945. What was his next job after he left the staff?
4. Which Tribune editor became news editor of Rupert Murdoch’s Times?
5. Which founder member of the Tribune board was interned as a Nazi sympathiser during the second world war?
6. Why did the headline “Lower than Kemsley” nearly put Tribune out of business?
7. Which former Tribune editors have been accused by the Sunday Times of being Soviet “agents of influence”?
8. How long was Sheila Noble the person who really ran Tribune — I mean editorial secretary and then production manager?
9. Which senior Tribune journalist of the 1940s became a regular contributor to the pornographic magazine Penthouse in the 1970s?
10. Who was the lover of Tribune’s first editor, William Mellor?
11. Which two Labour MPs put up the money to launch Tribune in 1937 and how much did they lose in their first year?
12. What did Douglas Hill do when he was not editing the Tribune reviews pages?
13. Five people who at Tribune’s launch were either journalists on the paper or members of its board became Labour cabinet ministers. Name them.
14. Three Tribune editors also edited Fleet Street newspapers at different times of their lives. Name them.
15. Which Tribune editor founded the Good Food Guide?
16. Three Tribune editors were MPs before, during or after their spells as editor. Name them.
17. Two Tribune editors also worked on the staff of the New Statesman. Name them.
18. In which year did the headline “DON’T LET THIS BE THE LAST ISSUE OF TRIBUNE” appear on the front page?
19. Which Tribune editor now works for Al-Jazeera in New York?
20. Who was Thomas Rainsboro’?
Right, that’s enough fun: on to the real business, which of course is Gordon and Tony. No, I don’t mean it. I’m sick of the pair of them, bored with the endless wrangling, can’t see the difference between them. Whether GB has shafted TB or TB has shafted GB doesn’t mean very much to me. What I want to see is a coherent left-of-centre Labour Party with some sense of where it’s going, and I’m not getting a lot of it.
But TB/GB is unavoidable. Now Charles Clarke is out of the running, I’m reluctantly prepared to accept that there is no alternative to Brown as Labour leader after Blair. But Brown can’t take over now: he’s not up to it. And he has got to get his act up to speed pretty fast if he is going to be more than a Jim Callaghan, hanging on for a couple of years before losing to the Tories. He has the numbers in the party to be a shoo-in as leader when Blair goes (I always said 2007, incidentally) but the numbers aren’t what matter now: he needs to inspire the voters with a programme for what happens next.
He’s fine on the vision thing with the party — African babies are lovely — but it all looks too much like a 1980s Anti-Apartheid photo-call run by the Communist Party. So far, he’s probably done enough to retain or regain the “Bush is evil” crew for Labour. But he hasn’t so far worked out how to woo middle-class mums who aren’t averse to doing the right thing in Africa but worry about getting little Jemima into a decent school. Nor does he ring the bell for geezers in the boozer cheering for England.
I’m not bashing Gordon: I’m reconciled, really I am. The point is that he’s got to become much more of a man of the people if he’s going to make a success of it. The idiotic way of doing that would be to echo the law-and-ordure slogans that are the last resort of the Blair claque. But that would just piss off the party. I hope he finds an alternative.
1. Jon Kimche (1909-94) was Tribune assistant editor 1943-45 and joint editor 1946-48. His brother David, who emigrated to Israel and with whom he co-authored two books, joined Mossad, the Israeli secret service, rising to become its deputy director in the 1970s, and was director-general of the Israeli foreign ministry 1980-87.
2. In 1964.
3. He briefly became a war correspondent for the Observer.
4. Nigel Williamson (editor 1984-87) left Tribune to become editor of Labour Party News, Labour’s magazine for members, then moved to The Times. He now writes on rock music for several publications.
5. Ben Greene, first cousin of the novelist Graham Greene, was invited on to the Tribune board because of his leading role in the campaign to reform the Labour Party constitution to give constituency parties greater representation on the party’s ruling National Executive Committee, which fmally got its way in 1937. He did not last long on the Tribune board – he resigned in March 1937 – but the main reason he is not mentioned in most memoirs of the paper’s early days is that he became a vociferous supporter of Hitler. In 1939, he became treasurer of the tiny anti-semitic and pro-Nazi British People’s Party; and he was interned during the Second World War.
6. Lord Kemsley, proprietor of the Sunday Times, the Daily Sketch and a chain of regional newspapers, sued Tribune for libel and won. Tribune was bailed out secretly by Lord Beaverbrook, proprietor of the Daily Express.
7. Michael Foot (editor 1948-52, 1955-60) and Dick Clements (editor 1960-82) were both named as Soviet ‘agents of influence’ by the Sunday Times in the 1990s. Foot sued for libel, won, and gave a substantial donation to Tribune (as well as having his kitchen done).
8. Sheila Noble was editorial secretary and then production manager from 1964 to 1994.
9. Frederic Mullally, assistant editor 1945-47.
10. Barbara Betts (later Castle)
11. Sir Stafford Cripps and George Strauss. They lost £20,000 in the first year – almost £1 million in today’s money.
12. He was and is a science fiction author. He was voted most popular children’s author in a (pre-Harry Potter) poll in the Guardian.
13. Sir Stafford Cripps, Aneurin Bevan, Ellen Wilkinson, Michael Foot, Barbara Castle.
14. William Mellor (editor, Daily Herald, 1926-30, Tribune 1937-38), Michael Foot (editor, Evening Standard, 1942-44, Tribune 1948-52 and 1955-60), Bob Edwards (editor Tribune 1952-55, Daily Express, 1961 and 1964-65, People, 1966-72, Sunday Mirror, 1972-84).
15. Raymond Postgate (editor 1940-41).
16. Aneurin Bevan, Michael Foot, Chris Mullin.
17. Michael Foot, Paul Anderson.
18. It appeared in 1988 – and within a week readers had donated £40,000 to rescue the paper.
19. Mark Seddon (editor 1993-2004).
20. Frank Owen, who in 1942 wrote a series of articles for Tribune criticising the Churchill Government’s conduct of the war which caused a sensation. Owen (1905-79) was editor of the Evening Standard (1937-41) and co-author with Michael Foot and Peter Howard, using the collective pseudonym of “Cato”, of Guilty Men, the 1940 pamphlet attacking the late-1930s policy of appeasement that became an instant best-seller.