By Roger Bagley in Parliament in London, England:
Exposed: Tories’ Whitehall ban on your paper
Thursday 01 November 2012
MPs protested against a spiteful Whitehall-wide ban on the Morning Star exposed today.
A parliamentary probe by Labour MP Jonathan Ashworth revealed that the blackout operates across government departments, despite the Star’s in-depth coverage of key issues.
The paper carries detailed reports on the rail industry and is the daily voice of the transport unions.
Mr Ashworth discovered that the Department for Transport subscribed to the Bookseller, Digital Camera magazine, Fishing News plus foreign papers Le Figaro and Die Welt.
But the department is boycotting the Morning Star.
The paper also carries in-depth reports from welfare rights campaigners.
But the Department for Work and Pensions does not buy a single copy.
This picture is repeated in Whitehall department after department, revealed in parliamentary answers obtained today by Leicester South MP Mr Ashworth.
The Treasury spent £41,753 on newspapers and periodicals in the past year, including Le Monde and Private Eye. But not a penny was spent on buying the Morning Star.
The International Development department buys the Church Times, The Jewish Chronicle, The Voice and the left-wing magazine Tribune. But not the Star.
The Justice Department spends out on the comic cuts Daily Star, but ignores the Morning Star.
The paper’s support base includes nine unions represented on its management committee: Unite, GMB, RMT, FBU, POA, Durham miners, NUM, CWU and Community.
Yet it is not wanted in Whitehall.
Today’s Tories are showing more contempt for the paper than their heroes Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher – they were both regular readers in order to find out what their enemies were saying.
Mr Ashworth commented: “I am amazed that departments take so many different newspapers, magazines and journals and yet none of them seem to take the Morning Star.
“Given that trade unions, campaign groups and charities write regularly for the paper, I would have thought that ministers would want to read what they are saying.”
Labour MP Ian Lavery, convener of the parliamentary Morning Star Readers and Supporters Group, condemned the failure of ministers and officials to read the paper “which represents hard-working, honest people.”
This demonstrated why the government was so out of touch, he said.
“The paper reports on a daily basis the struggles of ordinary people and the campaigns of trade unions, charity groups and others. It highlights what is happening on the ground in the real world.”
St Ives Lib Dem MP Andrew George said ministers and government departments needed to see a wide breadth of reporting and commentary.
He was surprised they were not reading the Morning Star, which “puts a view that you would not get anywhere else.”
He emphasised: “If the intention is to be well-informed of the breadth of perspective that exists, then it seems to me that the Morning Star is a must.”
Rail union RMT leader Bob Crow attacked “the pure and utter arrogance of these senior ministers and officials who stick their heads in the sand and ignore the voice of millions of people reported in the pages of the Morning Star.”