The Times this morning reports:
“A Labour peer has described the adviser Seumas Milne as a friend of tyrants, writes Dominic Kennedy
A Labour grandee has launched an attack on Jeremy Corbyn’s closest adviser, claiming that Seumas Milne is a Marxist sympathiser who has long been an opponent of democracies.
Lord Soley, who has known the party’s director of strategy and communications since the 1980s, accused him of being soft on authoritarian regimes.
Mr Milne’s support for Vladimir Putin has become a liability for Labour since a High Court judge on Thursday found that the Russian president “probably approved” the assassination of the former spy Alexander Litvinenko with radioactive poison in a London hotel.
Lord Soley warned Mr Corbyn that he had surrounded himself with advisers, including Ken Livingstone and John McDonnell, who had been favourable to hardline regimes. He claimed that the Labour leader was too reliant on a narrow group of old associates in the capital, which would damage the party’s image in the wider country.
Mr Milne chaired the constituency Labour party in Hammersmith, west London, when Lord Soley, then Clive Soley, was the local MP. The peer said: “Talking to him, and especially when he gave me a copy of his book about capitalism being a sort of card game, I knew very early that he was, if not a Marxist, then some variety thereof.
“He was always overly sympathetic to authoritarian regimes and under sympathetic to countries that enjoyed democracy and the rule of law. He would be very critical of Britain or the United States but not very critical of Russia or Iran, countries or regimes I would keep my distance from unless I was trying to change them. I find it odd that there is this group around Jeremy of him, Ken Livingstone and John McDonnell. They are all people who have identified themselves with quite hard regimes.
“I recognise that Jeremy won a wide vote within the party but the party is not the country. The problem is that Jeremy hasn’t got that many friends who are mainstream Labour and also he has got very few outside London so it looks terrible, especially the promotion of the defence lady. It looks like London luvvies and this does us no good anywhere outside London.”