A fortnight ago, the Mail on Sunday devoted over 12 pages to the destruction of Jeremy Corbyn in one of the biggest misfires in media history. It returned like a dog to its own vomit last weekend with more tales from the east.
This time, the main target was not Labour leader Corbyn but his right-hand man Seumas Milne (full disclosure: Milne has been a close friend of mine since the 1970s), the Labour Party’s director of communications and strategy.
The top line was – in the mouth of Sir Richard Dearlove, the disgraced former head of the British Iraq-War security services – that unless Corbyn ditched Milne, neither the US nor other “allied” countries would share information with the UK under a Corbyn premiership, which would thereby be rendered impossible. The implication was that the Privy Council would advise the Queen to select someone else instead of the winner of the election!
Former head of mi6 (the same head of mi6 who supplied false intelligence for Blair ‘dodgy dossier’ used to justify attack on Iraq) suggests it’s not for an elected prime minister but the security services to decide who PM can or can’t appoint as an advisorhttps://t.co/mrAdLhhAz4
— Charles Shoebridge (@ShoebridgeC) February 24, 2019
Milne – it was claimed over several thousand words in the paper – has effectively been a former Soviet and now Russian surrogate since the 1970s. Moreover, he is linked to “terrorist groups” which are themselves – in the words of the article – said to be Russian surrogates.
To call this fervid doesn’t do fever any justice. In 50 years of following British journalism (and many years writing a column for the Mail on Sunday), I have never seen more hallucinogenic ravings make it into print anywhere.
Milne is a scholar, a brilliant Oxford-trained intellectual who before serving nearly 30 years as an associate editor of the Guardian, worked for the BBC’s Andrew Neil at the Economist. He is the author of bestselling books that are still in print after three decades. His father, Alasdair Milne, was the director-general of the BBC. According to today’s newspaper though, Milne has been in the service (presumably unpaid as no Moscow gold is alleged) of the Kremlin since Oxford University, from Brezhnev through Andropov, Chernenko, Gorbachev and Putin. As allegations go, that’s a big one.
It is all, of course, arrant nonsense. And I speak as someone with close knowledge of his activities, beliefs and even travel plans throughout the decades in question. The writer David Rose, who made public (and several private) apologies for previous far more deadly flights of fancy in the run-up to the Iraq War. But such a track record merely enhances his employability with the Mail, known as the Forger’s Gazette since it was the sewer of choice for the security-services-fabricated ‘Zinoviev Letter’ that brought down the first Labour government nearly a century ago. The forgery is now acknowledged in the Official History of Dearlove’s own service.
That intelligence service – with its credibility in tatters after the Iraq-War fiasco – has now licensed its former head to try to kill the electoral chances of the Labour opposition. This illustrates that it has learned nothing about democracy in the past 100 years, or that it imagines the rest of us have forgotten what we knew.
Effectively, Richard Dearlove set out in the newspaper the conditions under which British Intelligence would tolerate a Corbyn Labour government in a way which they refused to tolerate the Labour government of Ramsay MacDonald. It represents a very British coup.
Somehow it all recalled the words of Lady Astor dining at the Savoy when she was told the election results in 1945.
“I’m afraid m’lady,” the maitre d’ told her, “Winston is out, it’s a Labour landslide.”
“A Labour landslide,” shouted her ladyship, “the country will never stand for it!”