MC writes to me as follows:
“In your post about Ken Livingstone you refer to the Morning Star cheerleading the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. In this case the CPGB opposed the Soviet action and this was reflected in the Morning Star.
” We were not exempt from Soviet pressure. The Soviet Union purchased more than ten thousand copies of the Morning Star which was the only English newspaper on sale in that country. Towards the end of 1968 the order was cancelled. The motive was twofold: Soviet citizens able to read English would no longer have the opportunity of seeing a critique of their government’s policies and it put financial pressure on the cash-strapped Morning Star. The EC made a formal protest to the CPSU but we made it clear that our policy would not be in any way influenced by the loss of the Soviet order. In a very short time the order was restored.
As the British party’s voice the Morning Star was an obvious target for Soviet displeasure. This included its journalists. Sam Russell, the paper’s foreign editor, had been reporting in Prague. His dispatches had been picked up by Radio Free Europe and broadcast throughout Eastern Europe. The Russians were not pleased with Sam who years earlier had been the Daily Worker correspondent in Moscow. He was not invited to the November 7 celebration of the Russian Revolution, an invitation invariably sent to the foreign editor. A hint that others on the paper and party leadership might boycott the event resulted in a messenger being hastily despatched to the Morning Star office with an invitation for Sam.”
There was certain opposition to this line from senior staff at the Star.
I remember also taking part in demonstations against the invasion and the YCL taking an active part in these. There was a significant opposition on the left to the Soviet invasion. I can remember a rally with Ian Mikardo MP, Tariq Ali and Nina Temple(YCL) in 1978 (10th anniversary) and a counter demonstration by the New Communist Party (breakaway tankies from the CPGB).”
I had always associated the Morning Star with the “tankie” tendency withing the CPGB: but the party was fractured by the events in Czechoslovakia and I should not automatically have assumed that all in the Morning Star had cheerled for that invasion.
Feel free to write to me with your recollections of this time in the Morning Star and CPGB’s history. I will publish the most interesting responses below.