His name is Seumas Milne, and he’s the new head of communications for Jeremy Corbyn, who in September was named head of the Labour Party in Britain. We’ve already taken a look at Corbyn himself, who’s a big fan of Vladimir Putin and an admirer of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution. As we’ve seen, the ascent of such a far-left character to his party’s top job occasioned considerable unease among Labourites and Tories alike.
Milne, it turns out, is even worse. Son of a former director of the BBC, he’s an alumnus of Winchester College, of Balliol College, Oxford, and of Birkbeck College, London University. He served as business mananger of a Stalinist monthly called Straight Left. Later, he spent three years at The Economist (it’s interesting, by the way, to learn that The Economist had no problem hiring a Stalinist). Then he moved to The Guardian, where he reported from around the world and then, for several years, edited the paper’s comments section.
These days, Milne might not call himself a Stalinist, but his politics speak for themselves. Briefly put, he despises capitalism, hates the U.S. and Israel and deplores Britain’s alliance with both, and is a reliable apologist for Communists and jihadists everywhere. In piece after piece, he’s warned against equating Stalin with Hitler, against reducing the USSR to Stalin, and against reducing Communism to the USSR. He’s eager to make the point that just became the USSR did some bad things and ended up on the ashheap of history doesn’t mean that Communism itself is, by its very nature, undesirable or unworkable. Repeatedly, he’s argued that Stalin’s abuses were no worse than those committed by the British Empire, and that today’s jihadist assaults on British targets are defensible payback for today’s British (and American) imperialism.
Tom McTague, reporting on Milne’s apppointment in the Daily Mail, noted that Milne had once published a speech by Osama bin Ladin on the Guardian‘s website, running it under the terrorist’s byline as if it were an ordinary op-ed. Two days after 9/11, Milne wrote that Americans “can’t see why they’re hated” and that they were “reaping a dragons’ teeth harvest they themselves sowed.” At a 2014 anti-Israel rally, he expressed the view that Israel has no right to self-defense but that Palestinians do. “It isn’t terrorism to fight back,” Milne maintained. “The terrorism is the killing of citizens by Israel on an industrial scale.”
Milne’s appointment brought cries of outrage from many quarters. In the Telegraph, former Labour MP Tom Harris described him as “a hate figure for the right of the Labour Party” who is “contemptuous of traditional working class attitudes to Queen and country.” Harris cited with disgust Milne’s statement that the brutal May 2013 murder, in London, of Fusilier Lee Rigby by two jihadists “was not terrorism in the normal sense of an indiscriminate attack on civilians” because “Rigby was a British soldier who had taken part in multiple combat operations in Afghanistan.” On the contrary, Rigby’s killing was the “predicted” (and thus, one gathered, permissible) “consequence of an avalanche of violence unleashed by the US, Britain and others in eight direct military interventions in Arab and Muslim countries.” Elsewhere, noted Harris, Milne served up “glowing descriptions of Iraqi insurgents attempting to blow up [UK] voters’ sons and daughters wearing British army uniforms.”
Others shared Harris’s revulsion. We’ll move on to them tomorrow.