John Preston’s Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell is receiving rave reviews and being serialised on Radio Four. So consider that in 1982, and again in 1992, Arthur Scargill tried to persuade the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme to buy the Mirror Group.
In those days, it could have done so. The role of the NUM in its running would then have made the Mirror Group’s newspapers effectively union publications. That was the kind of wealth and power that was destroyed by the destruction of the British coal industry.
Standing on top of a thousand years’ worth of coal, the coalfield communities, with a population larger than that of Scotland, remain a desperately impoverished country within this country. But a generation later, there is a glimmer of hope. The mine at Whitehaven, approved by all three parties on the Labour-led Cumbria County Council, is now the test of all three national parties’ moral and political seriousness.
A national daily popular newspaper? Now, wouldn’t that be the Jewel in the Crown? To set alongside our think tank, our Fellowships at a friendly university, our weekly current affairs magazine, our fortnightly satirical magazine, our monthly cultural review, and our quarterly academic journal, with our registered political party in reserve. Although at that point, then even I might have to accept that someone else would have to do some of the directing and the editing.
No mere touch of a button could close down our printing presses or our distribution networks. If necessary, then the presses could be abroad, like those of the Recusants of old. They also had their colleges in exile, and the last time that I looked, then the Continent was still there. Ireland is still there, too. The world is still there. If it never came to that, then it would never come to that. But if it did, then it would.