From the November 1920 issue of the Socialist Standard
The antics of the "Daily Herald" are just now extremely interesting and, in these days of fakes and fakers, keep the observer wondering what will turn up next.
We have seen the one in which the Bolshevik £75,000 was turned down in heroic mood, and our admiration was excited—more or less—by the beatific terms of self-righteousness in which the martyrs made public their martyrdom.
Being credulous, we may try to believe in the protestations of Lansbury and Co. that they were ignorant of the negotiations carried on by Francis Meynell in Russia, although it may be noted that this individual resigned from the "Herald" board when their action was made public. Nelson is alleged to have put his glass to his blind eye at the battle of Copenhagen, and one wonders if that was the action of the "Herald" directorate whilst Meynell was wandering around in Russia. In any case, the offer became public property from other sources than the sheets of the "Daily Herald" before its readers were regaled with the details and were asked to express their opinions as to the acceptance or rejection of this mysterious lucre.
If any of my readers followed the published answers to this query they will have waded through extracts giving ayes and nayes, and will have had fresh evidence of the hope for Socialism expressed by such a journal, supported by such a medley of points of view.
The latest turn is the raising of the price of the "Daily Herald" from 1d. to 2d., and at the moment of writing the matter is being presented as a life and death struggle between the capitalist Press and itself. And judging by the tone of the scribes who are entrusted with the "writing up," the demise of the "Daily Herald" would be a double funeral—that of itself and that of Socialism. This, however, is hardly likely to be the case for the following reasons :
The "Daily Herald" is not a Socialist journal, is not run by Socialists, is not written by Socialists, does not present Socialism in any shape or form, and is not read by Socialists as such. The only thing connected with it that has any relation to Socialism is the word, and it has to be presumed that the idea behind the constant use of the term "Socialism" in its columns is that constant repetition of terms is the only necessity for the production of facts.
This point of view may be good enough for readers of the "Daily Herald" (which is so much the worse for them) but it is not good enough for us, and we state unequivocally that Socialism would not suffer one jot or tittle if that paper suspended publication to-morrow.
I am prepared to admit that the "Daily Herald" very occasionally tells a little more of the truth than the organs of the Press when it suits the powers behind it, but the Socialist knows what value to place on the news ladled out daily to the working class, and therefore is not to be carried away by that, and the members of the working class who have not yet awakened to the knowledge of their position in society will not arrive at that awakening any faster by reading what the renegade Atheist, Lansbury, or any of his staff, may decide is good for them to know.
To give an idea of the "freedom" of opinion represented in the columns of the "Daily Herald" we have only to remember that quite a large and growing interest is controlled by the trade unions and co-operative societies, and various of them from time to time vote sums of money to be invested therein. In addition it is common knowledge that a proportion of seats on the board are allotted to their representatives, "responsible trade union leaders" and co-operative society officials, all of which obviously shows that the policy of the paper has to coincide with the ideas of these gentry. Otherwise the funeral service of the paper would soon be read, as it could not exist through many issues without such support.
Thus it is quite clear that any criticisms of the actions of ''responsible trade union leaders'' and their like have to be made, if at all, with an eye to the possible effect upon the funds and circulation. As an illustration of this may be cited Robert Smillie's crawl out over the miner's strike, where he endeavoured to get the miners to consent to their demand for higher wages being made contingent upon increased production. Only Smillie can explain how the miners could benefit under such a scheme, and though he might satisfy the readers of the "Daily Herald" by such an explanation, the could not satisfy a Socialist, and probably only a small proportion of the miners. Anyway, the "Labour" daily dared not criticise Smillie, although its policy—if such a term can be applied to a total absence of any semblance to a definite point of view—appears to be in disagreement with the Smillie backslide.
The same argument applies generally. No journal not supported by Socialists can put the Socialist viewpoint, just as no worker can produce works of art if he is paid to make golly-wogs—"he who pays the piper calls the tune," and the tune the "Daily Herald" has to pipe is called by as motley a crew of anti-Socialists and time-servers as could be found in the whole newspaper world.
When the workers decide that they require a Socialist daily Press they will have it and support it, and they will not invite assistance from Lansbury and his like, or accept it if offered. They will see to it that Socialism is presented and Socialism only, recognising that Socialists can only be made by Socialist propaganda.