The Morning Star ought to be feeling well pleased with itself.
After all, it has a former contributor who remains a public supporter leading the Labour Party. It has at least two political supporters (Seumas Milne and Andrew Murray) in the most powerful positions of influence within the Leader’s Office.
Its pro-Brexit stance appears to have helped a (so far) effective effort to discourage Labour from enacting agreed conference policy regarding a second referendum.
And yet, despite all this, the paper is full of self-pity and paranoia. It even claims to be “under siege”. It’s not clear by whom. After all, even under Brown and Blair, being a supporter of the Morning Star never caused you problems within the Labour party.
In a strange article last week (13 March) entitled “The bid to mark communists as illegitimate, sinister forces is a bid to isolate the Labour left”, editor Ben Chacko claims that:
“Hundreds of thousands of predominantly young people wishing to get involved in politics for the first time have been met by powerful Establishment insiders with ridicule and slander”.
He doesn’t actually mean young first-time-in-politics people. His concern is for the ageing cohorts of the Communist Party of Britain and its allies.
“More recently attacks have focused on whether Corbyn is a Marxist and which of his allies can be accused of being communists.
“To state the obvious: the anti-capitalist left in the form of the Communist Party and various other socialist parties has not been large enough in the recent past to have significantly infiltrated Labour or be responsible for either of Corbyn’s victories. And yes, some allies of Corbyn who are now in Labour have come from those traditions.”
And who might they be? Comrades Milne and Murray, perhaps? They prospered before their current posts (Milne as a top journalist on the Guardian, Murray as “chief of staff” of the big union Unite), and there is little evidence to suggest that, under the present Labour regime, the well-paid, unelected positions that they now have in the Leader’s Office are in any danger. The worst they have to put up with is some ineffectual baiting from the Daily Mail and the Spectator.
Both Murray and Milne are frequently referred to in the bourgeois press as “Stalinists”. Some comrades may be inclined to dismiss this charge as right-wing slander. But both are on record defending Joseph Stalin. Here’s comrade Murray in the Morning Star of 17 December 1999 (yes, a while back, but there’s no evidence that he’s changed his opinion since):
“Next Tuesday is the 120th anniversary of the birth of Josef Stalin… you are still left paying your money and taking your choice. A socialist system embracing a third of the world and the defeat of Nazi Germany on the one hand. On the other, all accompanied by harsh measures imposed by a one-party regime.
“Nevertheless, if you believe that the worst crimes visited on humanity this century, from colonialism to Hiroshima and from concentration camps to mass poverty and unemployment have been caused by imperialism, then [Stalin’s birthday] might at least be a moment to ponder why the authors of those crimes and their hack propagandists abominate the name of Stalin beyond all others. It was, after all, Stalin’s best-known critic, Nikita Khrushchev, who remarked in 1956 that ‘against imperialists, we are all Stalinists’.”
But Comrade Chacko needn’t feel quite so isolated. In the same day’s editorial (in fact, printed right alongside his article), the paper identifies where its real allies within the Labour Party are to be found:
“The reconfiguring of Labour’s politics that has seen long-standing critics of the EU joined by right-wing MPs from strongly leave constituencies suggests that electoral realism has the capacity to drive a new kind of unity.”
Ah yes! Those right-wing, pro-Brexit MPs are the kind of allies the Morning Star really values: no need for all that whingeing about being “under siege” after all, is there, Ben?
• With thanks to Andrew Coates