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“NUJ Left” candidate Richard Simcox today won the backing of the Socialist Worker in his election bid to become editor of the Journalist magazine.
The newspaper of the Trotskyist group, the social-ist workers party (SWP), endorses Simcox in the election race in its current issue, dated November 14.
It also joins the MediaGuardian commentator, Roy Greenslade, in attacking Mark Watts – freelance journalist, broadcaster and FOIA Centre co-ordinator – for his investigation of the SWP-inspired “NUJ Left” and his unmasking of Simcox as the far-left political group’s candidate.
The Socialist Worker writes: “The elections for the editor of the Journalist, the magazine of the national union of journalists (NUJ), have caused a surprising stir.
“As ballot papers were released, one candidate, Mark Watts, launched a tirade against what he believes is a secretive ‘cabal’ – the ‘NUJ Left’.
“‘NUJ Left’ is a grouping of socialists and others on the left inside the union. It debates and intervenes openly in the NUJ.
“Watts, however, praises himself for uncovering this supposedly secret cell. He also managed to notice that Socialist Worker is supporting Richard Simcox for the editor’s post.
“Watts is trying to create an air of suspicion about an open and democratic section of the union. NUJ members must stop this poison from spreading, so they can get on with fighting for the future of journalism.”
Watts distributed an e-mail circular to members that unmasked Simcox as the “NUJ Left” candidate after failing to declare his political affiliation in his campaign material, including the “election address”, that was sent via the union to the electorate.
The e-mail circular also revealed that “NUJ Left” was operating as a cabal – although Watts did not actually say that it was “secretive” – seeking to control the union’s national executive council (NEC).
His e-mail circular also made clear that the Socialist Worker had reported that Simcox was the “NUJ Left” candidate although, contrary to the SWP paper’s latest report, it had not previously endorsed him explicitly.
Watts said today: “Everyone in ‘NUJ Left’ is no doubt delighted to see this endorsement from Socialist Worker. I am sure that Greenslade would be similarly delighted with this ‘vindication’ of his position.
“However, I think that I am better off with the backing of the Channel 4 News presenter, Jon Snow. He means more to NUJ members than the Socialist Worker and Greenslade combined.”
Watts also revealed yesterday that “NUJ Left” candidates stood successfully in the last round of the NUJ’s NEC elections without declaring their political affiliation.
Watts is standing in the current election on the basis that the new editor of the Journalist should be an independent journalist at heart – not a politicised activist. He is not a member of any political party or group. Snow, and an army of other eminent journalists from all corners of the media industry, and from across the UK and Ireland, have backed his election bid.
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