Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the British Labour Party, recently asked Seumas Milne to be his director of communications. Milne is one of the few journalists currently working in the British media who is genuinely worth reading. Milne, for instance, wrote The Enemy Within, which is not the novelisation of the 1996 TV movie (Gary Russell courageously tackled that one), but rather a rigorous investigative expose of the way the Tory government – with help from the ‘security services’ and the tabloid press – set about trying to covertly undermine, smear and frame the NUM and Arthur Scargill during the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike.
Certainly, when you recall that David ‘Pigfucker’ Cameron’s choice for an equivalent post was Andy Coulson, you see evidence of a stark division – authentically based on a decency and honesty gap – opening up between the parties for the first time in quite a while.
Milne, however, is one of those Left-wing journos who has been repeatedly (and rightly) criticised by Media Lens for being less than brave about criticising the paper he writes for, even as he savages bias elsewhere. So he will already have ability to ruthlessly criticise other people for doing stuff that his own employers do too – something that will come in handy for the director of communications for a political party. (Just so as you know, Phil – if you start supporting Western imperialism, I’mma call you on it, ‘kay?)
Milne’s appointment has been hysterically decried by the Right (well, obviously) and also by figures ostensibly on the Left in ostensibly Left-wing publications (I won’t link to any of this tripe – if you want to see some of it, just google ‘corbyn milne’ and it’ll be the first stuff you see). Milne’s great crime is supposedly that he’s ‘an apologist for dictators and terrorists’, etc. If you actually go past the gibbering rhetoric of the denunciations and look at the articles they link to, you find Milne objecting to the ridiculous, dangerous, and hypocritical way Vladimir Putin (of whom I am certainly no fan) is demonized, or trying to provide valuable historical context for terrorist attacks on the West, and turmoil in the Middle East, and having the bad taste to locate such context in the sordid history of Western ‘intervention’. (The detractors link to these articles seemingly confident in the hope that you either won’t bother reading them, or that you’ll be wearing the same kind of ideological blinkers they do.) I don’t agree with every syllable of what Milne writes, but to call him an apologist for terrorism is just dishonest; and the whingeing about his Oxbridge background is hypocrisy of the highest order coming from the British media and political elites.
Relatedly, somebody asked me on Tumblr if I thought that Jeremy Corbyn has been so comprehensively smeared in the press that he is now useless against David Cameron. In other words: has a man who looks like Ben Kenobi (after resigning from the Jedi and becoming a Geography teacher) now been so traduced that he seems like a worse option than a man who lies like other people breathe, and whom most people seem to consider a plausible candidate for necrophiliac beastiality?…