Tribune: fading star of the British left?

Interesting snippet on the fading fortunes of Tribune magazine and left leaning publications in general from Nick Greenslade at the Observer.

Having the Labour government in power actually seems to have damaged the intellectual base of the left in Britain, judging by the popular sales of its magazines:

The circulation of the New Statesman might stand at a relatively healthy 25,000, but in the Sixties it was selling 94,000. Meanwhile, Red Pepper, launched to much fanfare 10 years ago, has failed to establish itself beyond a ghetto of environmental and social activists. Contrast this with the Spectator, where weekly sales have reached 65,000. And who would bet against that growing after the columns of free publicity provided by the sexual shenanigans of its staff and the improbable cult of Boris?

  • Peter Reavy

    I always keep an eye out for political magazines but I confess I was not aware that Tribune magazine existed. I haven’t seen it on the shelves of any Belfast newsagent. Has anyone else?

    I have never bought a copy of Red Pepper as it always struck me as doing exactly what it is described to do above: catering to a ghetto.

    Though I would add that, sadly, the New Statesman and even the London Review of Books have largely fallen into the same trap.

    I deserted these for the Spectator myself, despite initially feeling less at home in its worldview, because it always found something new to say about old topics and because the quality of writing was better.

    But the Spectator itself has felt progressively less and less sharp over the last couple of years.

    Blogs like the Social Affairs Unit often run articles better than those you’d find in Boris Johnson’s flabby Spectator.

    These days, for me, the best left-of-centre UK magazine is definitely Prospect. The Literary Review beats the LRB for book criticism.

    For right-wing analysis it is worth tracking down an American publication with occasional UK contributors, the New Criterion, and although it is not widely distributed here, a fair amount of its content is available online.

  • Alan

    The Trib is basically an internal, left wing labour party mag (awaits the oh no it’s nots). It is on the web at

    Though I’ve never been a Marxist, there hasn’t been a serious left wing mag since Marxism Today. I still remember the excitement of the New Times debates in the late 80’s which seemed to culminate in the wonderful events of 1989 when the iron curtain fell.

  • mickhall

    If one puts to one side the fact that e-mags like Slugger have taken up much of the slack from the declining circulation figures of political magazines. As far as the left is concerned it has to be admitted, it just does not produce decent weeklies. Red Pepper is a good example, even its book reviews are targeted at the common room. However having said this the fact that Smiths, etc will not carry these magazines means that few readers come across them by chance. It is said the Socialist Worker in England paid W. H. Smiths £25K to carry the paper, although to be fair, Borders carry a decent range of left magazines. What almost all leftist magazines lack is humour, thus for me the best political magazine was the Spectator in the days when Geoffrey Barnard and Taki were at the top of their form. Barnard, who I got to know was a cracker, I love the tale of when he moved to the country and the nearest pub and betting shop were a five mile walk away. Each day he posted himself a stamped envelope, which was then delivered next day around 10.30am by the rural GPO post van. As he was the last on the postmans round, Barnard would then get a lift into town with the postman each day, in time for opening time.

    By the way, is it not an indictment of SFs democratic deficit, that they have no theoretical/discussion magazine. Making them, as far as I can tell, the only political party that belongs to the same EU Parliamentary group as them not have such a mag.

  • aquifer

    ‘By the way, is it not an indictment of SFs democratic deficit, that they have no theoretical/discussion magazine’

    Editors with balaclavas waving a little green catechism. Too scary.

    Is there anything published by way of international trade press titles?
    ‘Re-engineering Revolution- Using anti-social behaviour and the drugs trade to open up your overthrow options.’
    Death Metal Fanzene- Bling Bling your dead. Chroming your old eastern bloc short.
    Cultural Hedgemoney- Tariff-free business models to establish state socialism with big dachas for the directors’