A once-familiar name returned to the pages of the Morning Star last week, banging a familiar and well-worn drum: Brian Denny, Europhobe and Little Englander par excellence.
For the EU referendum of June 2016, CAEF signed up with Leave.EU, the group run by Nigel Farage and his sidekick Arron Banks, responsible for some of the most racist propaganda during that campaign (e.g. the notorious “Breaking Point” poster and the claim that a millions Turks were about to arrive in Britain). Banks sent money to TUAEU and in his book Bad Boys of Brexit, published in October 2016, described how he worked with Denny on producing leaflets aimed at trade unionists.
Given that the Morning Star had published an editorial in June 2015 denouncing right wing anti-EU campaigners as “neoliberal and nationalist extremists” and calling upon the left and the labour movement to “develop an independent position of their own”, the publication of Banks’s book must have been an embarrassment to them. Prominent CPBer Nick Wright wrote to blogger Andrew Coates in July 2018: “Brian Denny is not a member of the Communist Party and has not been for some years. The parting of the ways came precisely over the insistence of the Communist Party that its members do not campaign with Tories or appear with them in the campaign to vote no to the bosses’ EU.”
Since then, until last week, Mr Denny’s appearances in the Morning Star have been limited to reviews of Julie Burchill’s anti-EU play People Like Us and the book Englishness: The Political Force Transforming Britain – both of which he liked very much.
But now he’s back, given an entire page to rant about the EU and its non-existent army as the great danger of the day, closing with the rhetorical question “should opposition to these militaristic and clearly imperialist developments simply be left to Nigel Farage and co?”
In the Morning Star of 9 September (“EU brass hats’ deluded plans to globalise Nato interventionism show they’ve learned nothing from leaving Afghanistan with their tails between their legs”) he now argues that the main risk from what he describes as “the chaotic US and British withdrawal from Afghanistan” is that the EU may “develop its own military wing”.
Mr Denny has form when it comes to anti-EU fanaticism. For many years before the 2016 referendum he was involved in a series of nationalist organisations, such as the Campaign Against Euro Federalism (CAEF), Trade Unionists Against the EU Constitution (TUAEC), No2EU, and Trade Unionists Against the EU (TUAEU). What all these organisations had in common (apart from alphabet soup initials) was opposition to free movement of labour and the promotion of “national democratic rights.”
While TUAEU, TUEAC and the RMT-backed No2EU claimed to be left wing and complained of (in the words of Mr Denny) “social dumping, whereby cheap foreign labour displaces local workers”, CAEF was linked to the far right of the Tory Party (and, later Ukip), calling for Britain to “restore sovereign control over its own military forces.” Despite this, the supposedly left wing TUAEC affiliated to CAEF and Mr Denny became a spokesperson for both organisations.
Through much of this time, until the reported “parting of the ways” “some years” before 2018, Mr Denny was a prominent member of the Communist Party of Britain and foreign editor of the Morning Star, as well as press officer for the RMT. During the Kosova war, he ensured the paper backed Slobodan Milosevic and spread the falsehood that the Kosova Liberation Army was at the centre of an international drug-dealing conspiracy involving the German and US secret services.