The New Statesman: Portrait of a Political Weekly, 1913-1931
This is the first detailed history of how a fledgeling Fabian weekly, founded in 1913 by Sidney and Beatrice Webb with financial support from George Bernard Shaw, came to play a key role in the growth of the modern Labour Party. Placing the early New Statesman in the context of its eight turbulent decades as the flagship of the left, the book compares the paper's early journalists with those of later generations. The first editor, Clifford Sharp, masterminded a political weekly that by 1920, despite its modest circulation, enjoyed remarkable influence within Whitehall and at Westminster. Reflecting the progressive intelligentsia's disenchantment with the Liberal leadership, especially after the party split in December 1916, the New Statesman had by the end of the First World War become a forum for forward-thinkers at the centre of Labour's policy-making machine. Though a talented editor, Sharp was a deeply flawed character, whose post-war misjudgement, principally his misplaced loyalty to Asquith, and drunken behaviour led to repeated clashes with the board. By 1925, the front half of the paper had lost direction, while the arts pages had lost their early vitality. With support for Labour no longer guaranteed, a consortium headed by Ramsay MacDonald sought unsuccessfully to take control. For the rest of the decade deputy editors Mostyn Lloyd and G. D. H. Cole struggled to combine academic careers with re-establishing the discredited New Statesman as the voice of the left. Success was to come only under the leadership and inspiration of a new editor, Kingsley Martin, and a new chairman, John Maynard Keynes, following the paper's symbolic take-over in 1930 of the Liberal weekly, theNation. By drawing upon interviews with surviving participants and a wide range of public and personal papers, the author analyses the development and significance of Britain's best-known and most resilient magazine of the left.
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