Rosser’s dealing with Scargill exposed

Scargill’s secret March 3 letter to NUJ general secretary John Foster blows the gaff on Mary Rosser and the Morning Star management

March 3 1998

Dear John

Having read a number of reports in national newspapers regarding the dispute at the Morning Star and in particular the article in The Observer on March 1, I feel it necessary to write to you in order that you, as general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, are in possession of details of my meetings with Mary Rosser as opposed to the distortions which have been leaked to the capitalist press.

I first met Mary Rosser and Mike Hicks - at their request - on February 16 1996 to discuss the impending launch of the Socialist Labour Party on May 1 1996.

I met them again - at their request - on July 10 1997, a meeting arranged through an intermediary to consider a request from Mary Rosser as to how the SLP could provide substantial financial assistance to the Morning Star which she said was in a critical financial position.

During the course of our second meeting, Mary Rosser told me that the Star urgently required about £200-250,000 to clear its immediate debts, and thereby avoid having to continue paying high interest charges on what was essentially an overdraft.

I said that it was my belief that members of the SLP together with supporters within the labour and trade union movement could raise those funds through the auspices of the SLP, but that our party would only be willing to do this on the following conditions:

  1. In exchange for mobilising an input of £200-250,000 to the PPPS, the SLP would insist our Party have 50% ownership of the PPPS;
  2. The SLP would in turn subsume its own paper, Socialist News, into the Morning Star, a move which in our view would assist in raising the daily sales of the Morning Star;
  3. The SLP would want to see all employees of the Star including the editor remain in post with a guarantee that their jobs were protected;
  4. The SLP would, of course, expect the Morning Star to reflect the general political line of the SLP, bearing in mind that representatives of both the Star and the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) have said that there are really no fundamental political differences between the aims of the two political parties.

In response to the above proposals, Mary Rosser said she would take them away, give careful consideration to all of them and, if necessary, consult with colleagues: a suggestion which I fully understood, bearing in mind that Mike Hicks (at that time general secretary of the CPB) was present during the course of the discussion.

Mary did eventually reply in writing, not to me but to my colleague Nell Myers on September 3 1997 and said:

“With regard to the ownership of the Morning Star, it is owned by the PPPS which is a cooperative on the coop principle of one person one vote so the amount of shares held do not give any extra proprietorial interest. In any case the number of shares any individual is allowed to hold is limited by law (£20,000 the last time I looked). The dissolution of a cooperative requires three quarters of the membership signing an article of dissolution”

I had a short discussion with Mary Rosser at the TUC and at that stage, it was my understanding that the PPPS had decided not to proceed any further with the discussion that Mary had initiated with me, in which I had made proposals about the SLP’s effective, equal involvement in the ownership of the Morning Star, proposals which in my view were bound to lead to increased circulation and growth of the paper.

A central feature of both discussions that took place was a request from Mary Rosser and Mike Hicks that the details, particularly those of the second meeting (July 10 1997) should remain confidential. This request I have hitherto respected completely.

However, in light of misinformation which has obviously been deliberately leaked, I feel it is essential that the NUJ, its Morning Star Chapel and all concerned for the future of the Morning Star, particularly the employees, are made fully aware of what actually took place, and my involvement.

Finally, could I suggest through you that it might be helpful if I were to meet and speak to members of the Star’s NUJ Chapel, including the paper’s editor, John Haylett, together with, if necessary, members of the NUJ executive committee in order to expand on any or all the points raised in this letter.

Best wishes,

Arthur Scargill

general secretary

(This is a confidential document and its contents must not be disclosed without prior permission from the author or the general secretary. Unauthorised disclosure will be considered to be detrimental to the SLP)