Friday, November 3, 2017

The "Irish Press" and the "Socialist Standard" (1963)

Party News from the October 1963 issue of the Socialist Standard

Recently the Executive Committee of the World Socialist Party of Ireland decided to launch an advertising campaign on behalf of the Socialist Standard. As we are restricted by finances, we decided to use small advertisements on a wide scale rather than larger advertisements in a few newspapers. In keeping with this decision the General Secretary of the Party sent a small advertisement (offering free specimen copies of the Standard) to the Irish Press, Ltd., for publication in their morning daily.

A short time later a letter was received from the advertising manager of the Irish Press stating that before publication of the advertisement they would need to peruse a copy of the Socialist Standard as well as being advised about its distributive outlets in the Republic of Ireland.

The request was unusual in our experience and the tone of the letter indicated that the senders, were in something of a dilemma. Viciously opposed to advertising anything that might pierce the fog of ignorance spread by the Press in the Republic, they were by virtue of their attacks on the Unionist Press in the North, like occupants of a glass house, unwilling to become involved in throwing stones. Obviously they hoped to avoid the need for an outright refusal on a “technical” issue.

But it was not to be. Our General Secretary sent them a copy of the Housing issue of the Socialist Standard, as well as the additional information requested. Doubtless the news-chiefs of the Press, who feed a steady diet of political rubbish to the Irish working class, went painstakingly through the columns of the Standard. No pornography, no four-letter words, were found; no cosy excuse for denying the W.S.P.I. the same right to advertise as is extended to the other political organisations in Ireland.

But the slum property of Irish landlords was falling in on its hapless inhabitants causing death and destruction. The Press, along with the other newspapers, carried the stories of tragedy; the Socialist Standard revealed the brutal hand of capitalism in the misery of slumdom. The Press, as pious upholders of Irish capitalism, could not afford to advertise an indictment of the system from which it draws its revenue.

Accordingly, some fourteen days later, our General Secretary received an almost-pleading letter in which the advertising manager of the Press said: “. . . we would ask you to excuse us from publishing your advertisement just at the moment”.

It seemed almost sadistic to prolong the embarrassment of the newspaper set up by De Valera and his cohorts in 1926 to “promote the ideals of freedom”. However, our General Secretary tried again; he requested publication of an advertisement merely stating the fact of our political existence and the address of our Head Office, but this again was refused—with the hypocritical assurance that the publishers of the Press had nothing against our organisation!

All this from the paper that prattles about freedom and denounces the Unionist Press in N. Ireland for discriminating against the nationalist minority. There is nothing to commend the editorial policies of the Unionist newspapers; we would be less than honest however, if we failed to admit that usually we are given fair representation in their columns, and we have never had an advertisement questioned or refused by the most rabid of the Unionist papers. This in an area represented by Irish Press Newspapers as an armed concentration camp where minorities are ruthlessly silenced.

The Socialist Standard will be pleased to publish any statement by the Irish Press setting out the reasons for refusing to accept our advertising. Surely the “great men in the struggle for freedom” who grace its columns and its Board of Directors have sufficient courage to come into the open and defend the attitudes of their paper. Or has absolute power corrupted absolutely?
Richard Montague

No comments: