The Labour Party Newspaper Propaganda

2 Dec

The Labour Party in Ireland, one of the biggest and most powerful political parties to date, has a large influence on propaganda towards its followers. One of the easiest and fastest ways to get news to the people of Ireland is through the newspaper. This political party has been using propaganda through the use of newspapers since 1919. Between 1919 and 1949 the Irish Labour Party had eight weekly political papers that lasted from about 7 weeks or an entire decade! The editors that put them together did the best they could, however, they were limited by two vital factors: a lack of finance, and the social and political climate that they operated in. Editors struggled with scarce resources and dealt with the fear of criticism in an increasingly conservative and religiously orthodox society. The articles were known to be dull and repetitive, frequently talking about James Connolly and other labor unionists; they had little appeal to the average worker or trade unionist that it was aimed at.

Labour News began selling in November 1936. Being a purely Labour Party paper, it was very different from the ones before it. It was lively and well laid out, and concentrated on contemporary politics rather than on talking about the life of James Connolly or rewriting Dáil debates. Its quality was the result of appointing a professional journalist to write and edit the paper. The paper struggled with the level of severity and was always targeted by critics.

Another newspaper was The Torch. After Labour News broke apart, the Labour Party’s head office stopped publishing for several years. The Dublin political branches were becoming very left-wing around that time. The presence of the radical left was evident in the pages of Torch, which then the paper was also subject to the Emergency censorship. That meant a lot of its propaganda work was focused on campaigning about food shortages, was shortened; there were a handful of expulsions that in order to silence the left, Labour’s leaders closed down Torch.

After The Torch became The Irish People. It was kept under much stricter rules than The Torch which led to it being quite more moderate in tone in comparison. They dealt with a lack of advertising, which led the paper’s views to be dependent on the leadership’s goodwill for its survival. Issues of housing and rising food prices dominated the paper. Naturally, this did not make it a happy paper to read. Activists complained of the paper’s lack of militancy and its tendency to be much too academic.

In The Citizen it was hoped to get Labour policy across, while at the same time giving good value as a medium to all. First appearing as an eight-page broadsheet, The Citizen tried to position itself as a populist newspaper with a great deal of sports coverage, radio schedules and reviews, a cartoon strip, and a women’s page complete with knitting and make-up tips. In fact, entertainment took up more column inches than the politics, and the Labour content was drastically scaled back after the first edition.

This analysis of the history of the Irish newspaper for the Labour Party showed the difficulties The Labour Party faced publishing while trying to continue sending out the news simultaneously. They would continually get ridiculed for not being harsh enough and vice versa. They also struggled with the amount of advertising resources as well as support from the people in turn.

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