Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Rural Crusader

William "Bill" Savage was the Editor of the Communist Party’s Essex-based publication, the `Rural Crusader’ (Based around Maldon/Braintree area)

In June 1946, its first edition was launched and it soon achieved a circulation of 2,500 copies.

The Rural Crusader had a rather unique (for the left) mix of village gossip, horticultural news, a Miss Essex competition, sports, politics, trade union advice, attacks on local US bases, but also included developments in the “socialist world”.

Its objective, according to the editorial in the first edition, was: “A paper that intends to voice the needs and desires of the ordinary village folk….The Crusader is intended to help drive to improve the conditions in the villages; it will turn a searchlight on every injustice that comes to it’s notice.”

Given the limited resources (each copy cost 3d) at William Savage’s disposal, this was a very professionally produced and readable publication.

The origins of the Rural Crusader, according to Savage, was his defeat as a communist candidate in a local council seat in Wethersfield, Essex in 1946 (losing to a Mr Barron, a local farmer, by 119 votes) “I had run for the Rural District Council and not having succeeded at the first attempt decided to do what I could to get some of the shocking things that I had found during canvassing put right. So, out came the Crusader.

The Crusader played a key role in uniting "progressive forces" within the Maldon constituency at that time held by Tom Driberg the left wing independent MP (later Labour)

It later merged into the Communist Party's Country Standard circa early 1950's

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