Times Newspapers

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:57 pm on 27th January 1981.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Ron Leighton Mr Ron Leighton , Newham North East 5:57 pm, 27th January 1981

I begin by declaring an interest as a sponsored member of NATSOPA, the printing union. Before I came to the House, I worked as a printer on most of the newspapers in Fleet Street, including those owned by Rupert Murdoch.

I have been fascinated by this debate. Hon. Members on both sides seem to be worried and concerned about the further concentration of press ownership. I understand that six multinational corporations and two large family concerns control the mass, circulation British press, and thereby most of the written information available to the British people. Also, most of those proprietors, because of their background and the circumstances of their lives, are Conservative. I have not noticed much evidence of the editorial freedom that has been so widely discussed today.

Although in theory we have a free press, if we are to be honest we must admit that it is largely a myth. In reality, most British newspapers seem to agree on most of the vital issues which confront the country. If we were to take, for example, the referendum on the Common Market, we would find all the newspapers took one view. Is that not so? I do not want to go through all the issues, but if we were to take one more recent example concerning who should be the leader of the Labour Party we would see that all the mass circulation newspapers made their position clear.