The Newsletter Archive
The First Two Years of The Newsletter
Because of the interest shown in the documents recording the launch of Keep Left and The Newsletter in 1950 and 1957, Staying Red is proud to announce a digitally archived set of the first 82 issues of The Newsletter covering events from April 1957 to December 1958.
This initiative is not merely a form of reminiscence, but is about exemplary journalism and communist principles. The Newsletter was launched at a time when thousands of communists were appalled by the events in Hungary after The Hungarian Revolution of October 1956 and were seeking ways to recreate socialist internationalism. The weekly newspaper appeared thanks to a massive commitment, especially by former Daily Worker journalist Peter Fryer who had witnessed the suppression and murder of Hungarian communists in Budapest by Stalinist forces.
The Newsletter unified thousands of CP members, the Left within the Labour Party, socialists generally and, vitally important, workers engaged in huge battles with the Macmillan Tory government. The period from 1956 to 1958 was astonishing in many ways, as this archive reveals. It finishes where it does simply because all later issues are archived at Glasgow Caledonian University Library. But coincidentally, in Issue 80 the Editorial Board announced a new member, one G. Healy, who within 9 months had driven Peter Fryer and others from the paper to make it increasingly his own vehicle.
That is why making the first two years of The Newsletter available is a vital step for the communist movement, even almost 60 years on: the movement will soon need a means of wide communication and these issues will help establish how it operates in a lively and principled manner. What stands out from these early issues of The Newsletter is a stark contrast with the sectarianism that came to pervade the SLL and then WRP. First and foremost it was a communist paper reaching out to all, while opposing the Stalinist leadership and bureaucracy of the Communist Parties, as did Trotsky and the Left Opposition.
The archive stems from my having had these early issues properly bound in the late 1960s, and a good job too as even between boards the paper and legibility are deteriorating. Each issue is in the form of a PDF created by Steve Drury from digital scans. These are not of the best aesthetic quality, largely because of print deterioration but also because of a need to keep the PDFs small enough for anyone to download. But they should be readable on-screen with few problems. If you wish to print the files make sure that the settings fit the pages to A4 sheets, which will usefully enlarge the small type, and use best quality printing.
So, as they say, read on!