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Thursday, 18 March 2010

Tony Blair and Windrush Ventures

Soon after he retired from office, Tony Blair set-up an obscure partnership structure called Windrush Ventures. All his multimillion-pound income gets paid into Windrush. The reason for this is that Windrush does not publish normal company accounts.

However, there is a business appointments watchdog committee that overseas payments made to former ministers. This is an attempt to stop politicians from receiving corrupt payouts for services rendered when they were in power. This is usually overcome by politicians like Blair receiving highly inflated payments for memoirs and speeches by organizations not directly related to the corrupt activities.

Yesterday, the watchdog published details of Blair's relationship with a a South Korean oil firm. The company concerned is UI Energy Corporation which has extensive business interests in Iraq. In July 2008 Blair signed a contract with UI Energy. However, it was not revealed how much he was paid by the organization. Blair asked the watchdog to keep the deal secret because of “market sensitivities”. The watchdog agreed to postpone this information for three months. Since then, the watchdog has asked Blair several times for permission to publish details of this contract. Each time he has asked for more time. They agreed until yesterday. However, we still do not know how much Blair has been paid for ordering the invasion of Iraq.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Why we will never know the truth about the JFK assassination

I have come to the conclusion that we will never discover the truth about the people behind the assassination of JFK. I think in time, probably in about 2063, the US government will appoint a respected historian to examine the classified documents related to the case. They will then report that a conspiracy and a cover-up did take place but the available evidence makes it impossible to identify those responsible for these events.

This is what happened with the Labour Government decided to announce an investigation into the Zinoviev Letter that was published in 1924. For many years, people had been claiming that the letter was part of a conspiracy organized by British Intelligence and the Conservative Party.

On 10th January, 1996, Ken Livingstone, made a speech in the House of Commons naming the agents responsible for this conspiracy. It is believed that Livingstone got this information from agents within MI5 who were sympathetic to the Labour Party.

When the Labour Party gained power in 1997, the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, announced that he had ordered the Foreign Office, to carry out an investigation into the case. He also put pressure on MI5/MI6 to open up their files on the Zinoviev Letter.

First, let me give you some background details on the case. In the 1923 General Election, the Labour Party won 191 seats. Although the Conservatives had 258, Ramsay MacDonald agreed to head a minority government, and therefore became the first member of the party to become Prime Minister. As MacDonald had to rely on the support of the Liberal Party, he was unable to get any socialist legislation passed by the House of Commons. The only significant measure was the Wheatley Housing Act which began a building programme of 500,000 homes for rent to working-class families.

In October 1924 the MI5 intercepted a letter signed by Grigory Zinoviev, chairman of the Comintern in the Soviet Union, and Arthur McManus, the British representative on the committee. In the letter British communists were urged to promote revolution through acts of sedition. Vernon Kell, head of MI5 and Sir Basil Thomson head of Special Branch, were convinced that the letter was genuine. Kell showed the letter to Ramsay MacDonald, the Labour Prime Minister. It was agreed that the letter should be kept secret but someone leaked news of the letter to the Times and the Daily Mail. The letter was published in these newspapers four days before the 1924 General Election and contributed to the defeat of MacDonald and the Labour Party.

Gill Bennett was the historian selected to carry out this investigation. She discovered Stanley Baldwin, the head of the new Conservative Party government, set up a Cabinet committee to look into the Zinoviev Letter. On 19th November, 1924, the Foreign Secretary, Austin Chamberlain, reported that members of the committee were "unanimously of opinion that there was no doubt as to the authenticity of the letter". However, eight days later, Desmond Morton, the head of the Secret Intelligence Service's Section V, dealing with counter-Bolshevism, admitted in a letter to MI5 that "we are firmly convinced this actual thing (the Zinoviev letter) is a forgery."

Morton also wrote a report for Chamberlain's Cabinet Committee explaining why the SIS originally considered the Zinoviev letter was genuine. According to Gill Bennett, Morton came up with "five very good reasons" why he thought the letter was genuine. These were: its source, an agent in Moscow "of proved reliability"; "direct independent confirmation" from CPGB and ARCOS sources in London; "subsidiary confirmation" in the form of supposed "frantic activity" in Moscow; because the possibility of SIS being taken in by White Russians was "entirely excluded"; and because the subject matter of the Letter was "entirely consistent with all that the Communists have been enunciating and putting into effect". Bennett goes onto argue: "All five of these reasons can be shown to be misleading, if not downright false."

The problem for Gill Bennett was that a lot of the relevant documents had been destroyed. It was therefore impossible to say who was really behind the forged letter and its publication in the press. However, she suspected that Desmond Morton was the key figure behind the Zinoviev Letter.

In 1998 Robin Cook reported back to the House of Commons that although the Zinoviev Letter was almost certainly a forgery, its precise authorship cannot be determined. Nor could it be confirmed that the SIS and the Conservative Party were part of a conspiracy to remove the Labour government.

In her published report in 1999 Gill Bennett was keen to distance herself from conspiracy theories: The propagation of conspiracy theories is always unprofitable, as it is impossible to prove a negative.” However, she did argue that Desmond Morton, like other members of establishment, was appalled by the idea of a Prime Minister who was a socialist. She pointed out: "It was not just the intelligence community, but more precisely the community of an elite - senior officials in government departments, men in "the City", men in politics, men who controlled the Press - which was narrow, interconnected (sometimes intermarried) and mutually supportive. Many of these men... had been to the same schools and universities, and belonged to the same clubs. Feeling themselves part of a special and closed community, they exchanged confidences secure in the knowledge, as they thought, that they were protected by that community from indiscretion." If that is not a conspiracy I do not know what is.

During this same period, MI5 decided to open up its files to the historian, Christopher Andrew. In his book, The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 (2009), Christopher Andrew argues that on 9th October 1924 SIS forwarded the Zinoviev letter to the Foreign Office, MI5 and Scotland Yard with the assurance that “the authenticity is undoubted” when they knew it had been forged by anti-Bolshevik White Russians. Desmond Morton, the head of SIS, provided extra information about the letter being confirmed as being genuine by an agent, Jim Finney, who had penetrated Comintern and the Communist Party of Great Britain. Andrew claims this was untrue as the so-called Finney report does not make any reference to the Zinoviev letter. Andrew also argues that it was probably George Joseph Ball, head of B Branch, who passed the letter onto Conservative Central Office on 22nd October, 1924. As Andrew points out: “Ball’s subsequent lack of scruples in using intelligence for party-political advantage while at central office in the later 1920s strongly suggests” that he was guilty of this action.

However, like Bennett before him, Andrew discovered that most of the important documents surrounding the case had been destroyed. Therefore, it was impossible to name the “guilty men”.

Bennett thought it might be a good idea to write a biography of Desmond Morton. When she began examining the documents concerning his life she realized she had problems. It seems that Morton had used his position in SIS to destroy this evidence. This even included his time at Eton College and the Royal Military Academy.

Despite his statement in the House of Commons about the Zinoviev Letter, privately, Cook knew that the British intelligence services could not be trusted. Cook refused to believe the evidence provided by the intelligence services concerning WMD in Iraq. On 17th March 2003 he resigned from the Cabinet. Cook was of course right, unfortunately, he never got the chance to know this for certain as he died from a "heart-attack" on 6th August 2005. He would of course been the star witness in the subsequent inquiries into the background to the Iraq War.

I would argue that any opening of the classified files on the JFK case would follow the same pattern as that of the investigation into the Zinoviev Letter.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History

In the introduction of the book, Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History, David Aaronovitch claims that the book was inspired by a BBC film producer, Kevin Jarvis, who claimed that “the Apollo moon landings had been faked by NASA and the American government”. Aaronovitch was shocked why such an intelligent man should believe such a ridiculous story. My response would have been similar. However, Aaronovitch’s next step is to lump this particular conspiracy theory to all other conspiracy theories, by claiming that “we in the West are currently going through a period of fashionable conspiracism”. He adds: “Books alleging secret plots appear on the current affairs and history shelves as though they were as scholarly or reliable as works by major historians or noted academics. Little distinction is made between a painstakingly constructed biography of John F. Kennedy and an expensive new tome arguing – forty-four years after the event – that the president was killed by the Mafia.”

Aaronovitch is implying that historians do not concern themselves with conspiracy theories whereas these books are written by journalists after making a “quick buck”. Of course Aaronovitch is a journalist who admits in the introduction is trying to make money out of the subject matter (he claims that the royalty statements will determine whether he has put the last seven years to good use). I will return to this subject later because Aaronovitch constantly shows his ignorance in the role of historians in dealing with political conspiracies.

Aaronovitch is enough of an academic to realise that you have to first determine your terms of reference (he studied history at Balliol College, Oxford, but was sent down after failing his first-year exams – I am sure we would have got a different book if he had completed his studies). However, this causes him problems. “If a conspiracy is defined as two or more people getting together to plot an illegal, secret or immoral action, then we can all agree that there are plenty of conspiracies.” (page 4)

Aaronovitch considers two alternative definitions by historians Daniel Pipes and Richard Hofstadter. He rejects these because they do not suit his purpose and so he comes up with his own definition: “I think a better definition of a conspiracy theory might be: the attribution of deliberately agency to something that is more likely to be accidental or unintended. And, as a sophistication of this definition, one might add the attribution of secret action to one party that might far more reasonably be explained as the less covert and less complicated action of another.” This is so woolly that Aaronovitch is virtually saying that a “conspiracy theory” is anything I say it is. However, I will try to assess his work based on his definition of conspiracy theory.

The problem for Aaronovitch is that anyone who has read much history is that the past is full of proved “conspiracies”. People in power have always used this power to try and control events. Their power is based on working closely with others in their position. In a democratic society, these people are forced into trying to prevent their actions from becoming public knowledge. The problem for them is that they are competing for power with other groups who share different political philosophies. This means that sometimes, the government itself is a victim of a political conspiracy.

In the introduction Aaronovitch looks at some suggested political conspiracies in the 20th century. His brief survey of US history leads him to argue that “not counting Watergate, which was a rather pitiful botched conspiracy to cover up an attempt at political espionage, the Iran-Contra affair of 1985-6 is the closest the US has come to a full-blown conspiracy.” Even this admittance shows Aaronovitch’s lack of knowledge of these subjects. He understands Watergate as a Nixon conspiracy rather than as a conspiracy against Nixon. The same is true of Iran-Contra. He has only understood the surface conspiracy of Reagan against the will of Congress rather than the conspiracy against the Jimmy Carter administration. These mistakes would have been corrected by the reading of just one of the standard texts written by historians on these subjects. However, his bibliography and his notes (only 15 pages in a 327 page book) show that he has not read any books on these subjects.

In his study of 20th century UK history he only comes up with one political conspiracy, the Zinoviev letter of 1924. He quotes from Gill Bennett, the chief historian of the Foreign Office, who concluded that the letter had been forged by anti-Communist White Russians and passed over to MI6 who believed it to be genuine (of course it was MI6 who believed there was WMD in Iraq). Aaronovitch then goes on to quote the Labour foreign secretary, the late Robin Cook, “there is no evidence that MI6 forged the letter. There is no evidence of an organised conspiracy against by the intelligence agencies.” (4th February, 1999)

I am sure the Foreign Office told Cook that the Labour Party had not been a victim of a conspiracy organized by the intelligence services. However, Aaronovitch seems to be unaware of Christopher Andrew’s book, The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 (2009). Andrew is no friend of conspiracy theorists but after being given access to previously unclassified files he has had to confirm that MI5 were indeed involved in a number of political conspiracies. This includes the Zinoviev letter. On page 149 he points out that on 9th October 1924 SIS forwarded the Zinoviev letter to the Foreign Office, MI5 and Scotland Yard with the assurance that “the authenticity is undoubted” when they knew it had been forged by anti-Bolshevik White Russians. Desmond Morton, the head of SIS, provided extra information about the letter being confirmed as being genuine by an agent, Jim Finney, who had penetrated Comintern and the Communist Party of Great Britain. Andrew claims this was an “outrageous lie” as the so-called Finney report does not make any reference to the Zinoviev letter. Of course, it did not stop there, the forged document was then sent to the Daily Mail, a newspaper that was running a campaign against the Labour government. Andrew also argues that it was Joseph Ball, head of B Branch who passed the letter onto Conservative Central Office on 22nd October, 1924. Ball later went onto work for the Conservative Party, as Andrew points out: “Ball’s subsequent lack of scruples in using intelligence for party-political advantage while at central office in the later 1920s strongly suggests” that he was guilty of this action.

It is clear in this case that Aaronovitch’s comments on the Zinoviev letter is just based on a casual look at newspaper cuttings. While this might be the research method used by a journalist writing an article on the subject, it is not acceptable when you are writing a book about past events. Especially as the main thrust of his argument is that people who write conspiracy books are not historians (and have not studied the evidence rigorously enough).

Anyway, I want to concentrate on how Aaronovitch deals with the assassination of JFK. In fact, it only covers 15 pages and appears in the chapter, “Dead Deities”. He starts of by quoting from his mother’s diary who wrote on the 23rd November 1963: “everybody abuzz with Kennedy assassination. Man called Lee Oswald arrested. Wonder if it is a frame-up, he is billed as having communist associations.” Aaronovitch’s mother, like his father, were members of the British Communist Party, and so it is not surprising that she reacted in this way to the assassination.

Aaronovitch argues that it was not unusual for the left to think that JFK had been killed as a result of a right-wing conspiracy. It was not only those on the left who thought this. A poll carried out in the US showed that one week after JFK’s death, 29% thought that Oswald did not act on his own. However, he claims that it was Mark Lane, with his article in the left-wing National Guardian in December 1963, that instigated the idea that JFK had been the victim of a right-wing conspiracy.

Aaronovitch dismisses Lane as a left-wing activist (he was the only public official arrested as a Freedom Rider). He also points out that most of those who played a public role in the claim that JFK had been a victim of conspiracy in Britain were on the left (J. B. Priestley, Michael Foot, Bertrand Russell, Victor Gollancz, John Calder, Bishop of Southwark, etc.).

He quotes from the article by I. F. Stone, who he describes as “one of the most prominent progressive US journalists”, who “warned the Left that they were falling prey to the same paranoias as the American Right” for arguing that JFK was a victim of a conspiracy (5th October, 1964). Stone believed, as did many on the left at the time that JFK was just a traditional conservative politician, and was an unlikely target of a right-wing plot. This was not an uncommon feeling on the left at the time, it was definitely my view of the assassination, however, we now know from declassified documents, that JFK had moved to the left in office and at the time of his assassination, was involved in secret negotiations to end the Cold War. I would suggest that Stone would not have been so convinced of Oswald’s guilt if he knew what we know now.

He then goes onto to suggest that Lane made a good living out of pushing the conspiracy theory. It is true that Lane’s Rush to Judgment (1966) did sell well. However, he fails to say that the earliest conspiracy books by people like Thomas G. Buchanan and Joachim Joesten had to go to Europe to find a publisher. It was only after the success of Lane’s book that convinced US publishers that there was good money to be made out of the JFK case. That is the way capitalism works.

He dismisses the early books on the case as being written by journalists. He tries to undermine Richard H. Popkin’s The Second Oswald, by claiming that while he was an academic, he was a philosopher rather than a historian. It does not seem that Aaronovitch has read any of these books and they do not even appear in his bibliography.

Aaronovitch then goes onto argue on page 123 that: “If one reads the Warren Report, the circumstantial evidence that Oswald was the lone killer seems overwhelming.” He then goes on to list this “circumstantial evidence”. For example: “he worked at the Texas Schoolbook Depository…” etc. He ends the passage with “the words slam dunk come to mind”. I am afraid that is the kind of analysis that Aaronovitch provides in the book.

Aaronovitch goes onto attack the critics of the Warren Commission by claiming that most of them would not have read the full report. It is unlikely that Aaronovitch has read the report. If you go to the very skimpy notes you will find that he only quotes the report via Gerald Posner’s Case Closed (2003), Larry Sturdivan’s The JFK Myths (2005) and Vincent Bugliosi’s Reclaiming History (2007), three books that do appear in the Bibliography. In fact, the only pro-JFK conspiracy books that appear in the Bibliography are: Madeleine Brown’s Texas in the Morning (1997), Robin Ramsay’s Who Shot JFK? (2002) and James Di Eugenio and Lisa Pease’s The Assassinations (2003).

This is clearly not a very exhaustive study of the case. What is worse, he seems completely unaware of the House Select Committee on Assassinations that carried out an investigation into the assassination of JFK between 1975 and 1976. The published report claimed that the Warren Commission "failed to investigate adequately the possibility of a conspiracy to assassinate the President." The report was also highly critical of the Secret Service: "The Secret Service was deficient in the performance of its duties. The Secret Service possessed information that was not properly analyzed, investigated or used by the Secret Service in connection with the President's trip to Dallas; in addition, Secret Service agents in the motorcade were inadequately prepared to protect the President from a sniper."

The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that "scientific acoustical evidence establishes a high probability that two gunmen fired at President John F. Kennedy." It added that "on the basis of the evidence available to it, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy.”

One can see why Aaronovitch was not keen to examine the findings of the Select Committee on Assassinations report. But to completely ignore its existence is unacceptable. This is especially important as the US official government position is that there was a conspiracy to kill JFK. The issue is not really about if Oswald was the lone gunman but who was behind the conspiracy to kill JFK.

Aaronovitch makes much in his book that conspiracy books are written by lawyers and journalists rather than historians. While this is true of anti-conspiracy books, it is not true of conspiracy books. It is true that many historians, when writing about JFK, tend to leave the assassination of him well alone. However, as far as I am aware, no historian has ever gone on record as saying the Warren Commission got it right. Those historians who have looked at the assassination, people such as David Kaiser, Gerald McKnight and Michael Kurtz, have concluded that there was a conspiracy to kill JFK.

Aaronovitch’s book has nothing to tell us about the JFK assassination. As a journalist who is attempting to write a book as quick as possible, he does not have the inclination or the skills, to investigate the considerable amount of material relating to the case. However, maybe I am not a careful enough reader and maybe others can point out what I have missed.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Socialist Newspapers

In December 1910 London printers were locked out in retaliation for their demand for a 48 hour week. In an attempt to communicate their side of the story, they produced a strike sheet called The World. Will Dyson, a socialist from Australia, began contributing cartoons for the strike sheet. The following month The World was renamed the Daily Herald. The first issue of 13,000 copies sold out. Over the next few weeks sales continued to increase.

When the strike ended in April the printers stopped publishing their newspaper. However, the striking printers had shown that there was a market for a left-wing newspaper and several leaders of the labour movement, including George Lansbury and Ben Tillett, joined together to raise the necessary funds. Francis Meynell was brought in as the business manager of the newspaper.

The Daily Herald reappeared on 15th April, 1912, and Will Dyson was recruited as the newspaper's cartoonist. His editor, Charles Lapworth, gave him a full page and complete freedom on how to fill it. Dyson's cartoons created a sensation. He was acclaimed by one critic as the best cartoonist seen in Britain since James Gillray. Sometimes they were so powerful that the editor decided to let it take over the whole of the front page. Within a few weeks sales of the Daily Herald reached 230,000 a day.

Writers who contributed to the Daily Herald during this period included Henry Brailsford, George Lansbury, William Mellor, G. K. Chesterton and Hillaire Belloc.

The Daily Herald was the only national newspaper that fully supported the actions of the women fighting for the vote. Most days, the newspaper gave a whole page to news and views on the subject. Will Dyson felt very strongly about this issue and produced a series of cartoons attacking the way the government was treating the suffragettes.

Whereas newspapers usually condemned strikers, the Daily Herald encouraged workers to take industrial action. As one critic pointed out, Dyson's cartoons "featured boldly drawn figures representing clear symbols of the noble, wronged worker verses brutal, evil employers." Some Labour politicians believed that Dyson was going too far with some of his cartoons.

George Lansbury, a socialist and a Christian, complained when Dyson portrayed capitalist as devils. Others were worried when his drawings began to attack the Labour Party for not being radical enough. Ramsay MacDonald, the leader of the party, was a particular target of Dyson's scorn. At a joint conference in October 1912, the TUC and the Labour Party decided to give their support to another newspaper, The Daily Citizen.

In 1913 George Lansbury became concerned about the way the newspaper was treating individuals. Lansbury told Charles Lapworth, the editor of the newspaper: “Hatred of conditions by all means, but not of persons”. When he refused to change his approach, Lapworth was sacked.

By early 1914 the Daily Herald was achieving sales of 150,000 copies a day. The outbreak of the First World War resulted in a slump in sales. The mood of the British public changed and they now preferred the militaristic opinions of the other newspapers to the anti-war stance of the Daily Herald. Several of their writers, including William Mellor and G. D. H. Cole were imprisoned as conscientious objectors. The newspaper also suffered from the loss of Will Dyson who had joined the Australian army. To survive, the newspaper had to be published weekly, rather than daily during the war.

The Daily Herald held a meeting on 31st March, 1918, where it welcomed the Russian Revolution. According to Stanley Harrison, the author of Poor Men's Guardians (1974): "It was the first of a series of huge meetings in the Albert Hall to welcome the Revolution and demand in general terms that all governments follow the Russian example in restoring freedom. twelve thousand people filled every seat and five thousand were turned away."

William Mellor and G. D. H. Cole became important figures in the newspaper. A friend, Margaret Postgate, claimed that they formed "an almost perfect pamphleteering partnership" with Mellor's "greater natural understanding of the working-man's mind... and gift for straightforward eloquence."

In May 1919 the newspaper published a secret War Office instruction to commanding officers, requiring them to find out whether their men would help in breaking strikes and be ready to be sent "overseas, especially to Russia". The government threatened to prosecute but the following month Winston Churchill admitted the document was genuine. He also made a public statement that troops would not be used for strike breaking.

The Daily Herald also campaigned against British intervention in the Russian Civil War. The Trade Union Congress resolved that all action necessary, including a general strike, would be taken to prevent war. David Lloyd George and his government backed down but claimed that George Lansbury was in the pay of the Bolsheviks. Lansbury at once published the complete list of the persons and organisations who had provided the newspaper with money. The audited circulation figures of 329,869, convinced the government that Daily Herald had the support of the public and it withdrew its claims.

The newspaper's left-wing stance meant that they suffered an advertisers' boycott. It was forced to raise its price to twopence, twice the price of any daily paper of comparable size, on 11th October, 1920. The newspaper succeeded in raising sales to 40,000 during the 1921 miners lockout. It also ran a national collection which brought in £20,000 for the miners' children.

In September 1922 the Trade Union Congress took over the Daily Herald. George Lansbury left and the experienced journalist, Hamilton Fyfe, became editor. Fyfe recruited writers such as Morgan Philips Price, Henry Nevinson and Evelyn Sharp to write for the paper. Over the next four years Fyfe increased its circulation but he unwilling to accept attempts by the TUC to control the content of the newspaper and he left in 1926. Frederic Salusbury was appointed editor-in-chief and William Mellor became the new editor.

In 1930 the TUC sold a 51 per cent share of the newspaper to Odhams Press. Mellor was elevated to the Odhams board. Attempts were made to make it a more mainstream publication. This was a great success and by 1933 the Daily Herald became the world's best-selling daily newspaper, with certified net sales of 2 million.

William Mellor became close to Stafford Cripps, the leader of the left-wing of the Labour Party. Other members of this group included Aneurin Bevan, Ellen Wilkinson, Frank Wise, Jennie Lee, Harold Laski, Frank Horrabin, Barbara Betts and G. D. H. Cole. Mellor believed that Bevan had the potential to become leader of the party: "Background, A1. Brain first-class. Power to move people. But has he the patience? Has he a simple and ruthless enough mind? Does he like caviar too much?" In 1932 the group established the Socialist League.

With the rise of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany, Mellor became convinced that the Labour Party should establish a United Front against fascism with the Communist Party of Great Britain and the Independent Labour Party. In April 1934 Mellor had a meeting with Fenner Brockway and Jimmy Maxton, two leaders of the ILP, "to talk over ways and means of securing working-class unity". He also had meetings with Harry Pollitt, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain.

Mellor told Barbara Betts in 1934: "In the end I am a socialist and an agitator because I want a free world in which human relationships shall be free from the constrictions and restraints imposed by... and taboos that spring from, religious... fears. I'm a politician only because this world as it is kills individuality, destroys freedom and fetters human beings... We may have to go through hell to get there but even that wouldn't be too big a price to pay."

In the 1935 General Election Mellor, was the Labour candidate in Enfield. Mellor wrote to his mother that Barbara Betts was of great help in his campaign: "Barbara is working like a trojan and speaking like an angel." Mellor was defeated but Castle pointed out that he added five thousand to the Labour vote on "a 100% left-wing programme".

Mellor continued to attack the leadership of the Labour Party for not establishing a United Front with the Independent Labour Party and Communist Party of Great Britain and along with Stafford Cripps established the Socialist League. This upset the leaders of the Trade Union Congress and as they still controlled the Daily Herald he was warned that he was in danger of losing his job. When he refused to back-down he was sacked in March 1936.

In January 1937 Stafford Cripps and George Strauss decided to launch a radical weekly, The Tribune, to "advocate a vigorous socialism and demand active resistance to Fascism at home and abroad." Mellor was appointed editor and others such as Aneurin Bevan, Ellen Wilkinson, Barbara Castle, Harold Laski, Michael Foot and Noel Brailsford agreed to write for the paper.
Mellor wrote in the first issue: "It is capitalism that has caused the world depression. It is capitalism that has created the vast army of the unemployed. It is capitalism that has created the distressed areas... It is capitalism that divides our people into the two nations of rich and poor. Either we must defeat capitalism or we shall be destroyed by it." Stafford Cripps wrote encouragingly after the first issue: "I have read the Tribune, every line of it (including the advertisements!) as objectively as I can and I must congratulate you upon a very first-rate production.''

Cripps declared that its mission was to recreate the Labour Party as a truly socialist organization. This soon brought them into conflict with Clement Attlee and the leadership of the party. Hugh Dalton declared that "Cripps Chronicle" was "a rich man's toy". Threatened with expulsion, in May 1937 Cripps agreed to abandon the United Front campaign and to dissolve the Socialist League.

By 1938 Stafford Cripps and George Strauss had lost £20,000 in publishing The Tribune. The successful publisher, Victor Gollancz, agreed to help support the newspaper as long as it dropped the United Front campaign. When Mellor refused to change the editorial line, Cripps sacked him and invited Michael Foot to take his place. However, as Mervyn Jones has pointed out: "It was a tempting opportunity for a 25-year-old, but Foot declined to succeed an editor who had been treated unfairly."