Guido understands that Corbyn’s ‘Director of Communications and Strategy,’ Seumas Milne has wangled himself his own private Parliamentary office, in a separate building to that of his boss. The secretive office sits in a corner of Norman Shaw North, quite a walk from the Leader of the Opposition’s office. Perfect for plotting, without being overheard…
It is highly unusual for even a senior staffer to receive an office of their own, especially when office space in Parliament is highly contested and some Members share office sets. A Guido co-conspirator who has gained access to the office says that it is to all intents and purposes a normal office – no Maoists tracts or other torture items to be seen. What unspeakable things go on behind the unnamed door to ‘Room 1/14’?
An out of character tweet this afternoon from the man who on Sunday was asked by Andrew Marr if he was an anti-semite. Is it too cynical of Guido to note the timing of this followed on from Palestinian flags being waved en masse in the conference hall – in breach of conference rules – and then a vote condemning Israel and freezing arms sales to a key military and intelligence ally in the war on terror? Seumas is getting slicker…
The optics of that flag waving are not great with many voters outside Gaza. It will take a lot more than a few tweets to convince British Jews that Corbyn’s Labour Party isn’t hostile…
One last hurrah for Ken (well, almost certainly not) – he has been on LBC this morning explaining how Hitler supported Zionists. More interesting is Theo Usherwood’s scoop that, in his evidence to his disciplinary hearing, Ken revealed that he was so close to Corbyn’s office that Seumas Milne even wrote his tweets. He coordinated with Milne on his media appearances and, when the anti-Semitism row blew up, Seumas never told him to stop saying Hitler on the TV. Asked by Nick Ferrari if Corbyn agrees with him on Hitler and Zionism, Ken said you’d have to ask Jezza but they have never disagreed on anything in their whole careers. A question in Corbyn’s next broadcast interview on this could be interesting…
A proud moment for the brocialists on Question Time tonight: Diane Abbott (former girlfriend of Jeremy Corbyn) appears alongside Jennifer Robinson (relationship status with Seumas Milne unknown). Jennifer’s last high profile public appearance was rather different:
Guess they’ll be watching Newsnight in the Milne household…
Seumas Milne has refused to conduct Labour’s post-PMQs Lobby huddles for the last month after getting into a strop about being named – in breach of Lobby convention – by the Press Association and Guido, among others. Today he ended his sulk and gave the briefing, after instructing journalists they must refer to him only as “a Labour spokesman” and not by name. The anonymity traditionally afforded by the Lobby to spokesmen is a means of avoiding accountability – if spinners are safe from ever being named what incentive do they have to be honest? They can lie with impunity. In Seumas’ case, his views on Russia and Syria and his reputation among Labour MPs meant he became the story himself. Ordering journalists to never refer to him by his name is a curious look. Who does he think he is, Voldemort?
Last night’s statement from a Labour “spokesperson” on the Douma gas attack – no wonder no one wanted to put their name to it – was a textbook case of Corbynista equivocation in the face of evil committed by a regime opposed by the West. Corbyn’s record on Syria speaks for itself.
He accepted a free trip to meet Assad paid for by a Palestinian group which blames Jews for the Holocaust, posing with the Syrian leader alongside Jenny Tonge, and writing afterwards that the junket had shown him evidence that “the Israeli tail wags the US dog”.
He was the chair of Stop the War when they compared Assad to Churchill and repeatedly promoted Assad apologists, and he continued to back the group when they were condemned by Peter Tatchell for silencing victims of the Assad regime, and accused by Syria Solidarity UK of tacitly supporting Assad.
Following the Khan Sheikhoun gas attack, Corbyn refused to blame Assad despite Britain, the US and France all agreeing there was no doubt the regime carried it out. He did however appear on Russia Today to immediately endorse Russian reports of Syrian rebels using chemical weapons. He called for an “independent UN investigation“. When such an investigation later found the Assad regime responsible, Corbyn said nothing.
He received a briefing from Declan Hayes, a notorious Assad apologist who has denied that the regime has used chemical weapons. He dined with Marcus Papadopoulos, who claimed “there was no massacre at Aleppo“.
Corbyn’s chief aide Seumas Milne has repeatedly apologised for the Assad regime, writing that warnings of chemical attacks by Assad were a “reprise of the falsehood that paved the way for the invasion of Iraq”, praising Russian intervention in Syria as a “check to unbridled US power” and criticising Nato for working against the Assad regime.
Milne’s deputy in the leader’s office Steve Howell is even worse – he’s repeatedly openly sided with Assad and accused the West of spinning the Aleppo slaughter.
Corbyn’s favourite newspaper, the communist Morning Star, actually backed Assad’s slaughter in Aleppo as “providing aerial support to troops fighting to drive extremists out”.
Corbyn famously said that “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”. On Syria he doesn’t even pretend to be neutral.
Curious about-turn at the Guardian over the last 24 hours. Thursday’s paper ran this strong leader criticising Corbyn and backing Theresa May’s conclusion on Russian responsibility:
“Mr Corbyn’s reluctance to share Mrs May’s basic analysis of the Salisbury incident made him look eager to exonerate a hostile power… Britain has been targeted with a chemical weapon and it is almost certain that there is only one plausible culprit with the means and the motive. The prime minister might not have as many tools for retaliation, unilateral or international, as she would like. But she has judged correctly that the time for equivocation, given the sinister nature of Mr Putin’s regime, is over.”
Yet this morning’s paper pours scorn on the previous day’s leader, running a story headlined: “UK’s claims questioned: doubts voiced about source of Salisbury novichok”. It echoes Seumas Milne’s line comparing the situation to Iraqi WMD, and quotes “arguments” on “social media” that the novichok could have come from “some non-state group, maybe criminals”. It even links to the infamous conspiracy theorist Craig Murray’s blog claiming “Israel undoubtedly has as much technical capacity as any state to synthesise Novichoks”. The decision to promote a source like Murray, a man who has spent time in a residential mental health facility, has caused bewilderment in the Guardian newsroom…
Guardian hacks are wondering why their paper’s line has changed so dramatically in such a short space of time. They doubt a respected journalist like Ewan MacAskill would write such an odd piece without instructions from above. Surely nothing to do with Seumas giving his old friend Kath Viner Corbyn’s big op-ed this morning…
Seumas Milne defended the Kremlin in his Guardian column after the assassination of a prominent critic of Vladimir Putin which the deceased man’s colleagues and family said was politically motivated. In Feburary 2015 opposition politician Boris Nemtsov was murdered while walking near the Kremlin with his girlfriend. Yeltsin’s former Deputy Prime Minister was shot six times with a 9mm pistol. A month later Milne wrote:
“The Russian president has, of course, been blamed for the killing, though that makes little sense. Nemtsov was a marginal figure whose role in the “catastroika” of the 1990s scarcely endeared him to ordinary Russians. Responsibility for an outrage that exposed the lack of security in the heart of Moscow and was certain to damage the president hardly seems likely to lie with Putin or his supporters.”
This was not the conclusion of the deceased Nemtsov’s colleagues and family. Nemtsov’s friend and fellow opposition activist Leonid Martynyuk said : “I am certain that the Russian government is behind the murder of Nemtsov.” World chess champion and Putin critic Gary Kasparov told reporters: “Putin must be held responsible for the murder of Boris.” Politico, and other international outlets ran pieces carrying claims that the murder was politically motivated.
Last summer five men were jailed for the murder after a controversial trial. The Nemtsov’s family lawyer told journalists:
“We can’t say we’re satisfied with the verdict. We would be happy if the murder hadn’t happened. But the main thing is neither the organisers nor those who ordered [the killing] have been found.”
Whatever happened, when a critic of Putin was shot feet from the Kremlin, Seumas was there to defend Vlad in the British press…
“Have read the comments of the Leader of the Opposition’s spokesperson. Mr Milne’s comments do not represent the views of the majority of our voters, members or MPs. We’ll get abuse for saying so but where British lives have been put at risk it is important to be clear about this.”
At the Kremlin Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin settles into his golden throne to watch Prime Minister’s Questions and the accompanying statement. As a jack-booted servant flicks over from Russia Today, Vlad wonders aloud: “Who’s the thin old beardy bloke in the red tie?”
“That’s Jeremy Corbyn”, replies the trembling aide. “Who?” demands Putin, never more than a moment from a nuclear-level rage, or worse, offering to make an adviser’s tea. “You know, Mr President. Codename COB…”
The almond-eyed tyrant purses his lips then raises a smile. An FSB man never forgets a codename.
Theresa May slammed Jeremy Corbyn for his lack of support over the Russian spy poisoning crisis. The Prime Minister told Jezza:
“There is a consensus across the backbenches of this House. I am only sorry that this consesnsus does not go as far as the Right Honourable Gentleman, who could have taken the opportunity as the UK government has done to condemn the cuplability of the Russian state.”
This will lead all the news bulletins tonight, the press will crucify Corbyn tomorrow, his own Labour MPs have disowned him and sided with the PM.
In this type situation Guido would normally expect the leader of the oppostion’s spin doctor to back pedal in the Lobby briefing huddle that follows, he would “clarify” and nuance the wording. Emphasise the more conventional parts of the argument to soften the inevitably hostile headlines coming tomorrow. When that spin-doctor is Seumas Milne however it seems there was to be no compromising on Putin’s line. Under intense questioning he refused to say that the Labour Party’s leader accepted the Russian state was at fault:
“The government has access to information and intelligence on this matter which others don‘t. However, also there is a history in relation to weapons of mass destruction and intelligence which is problematic, to put it mildly. So, I think the right approach is to seek the evidence to follow international treaties, particularly in relation to prohibitive chemical weapons.”
When Lobby hacks pressed Milne as to if Corbyn believed Russia was responsible for the attack, Milne said the PM continued to leave open the possibility that Russia had lost control of the nerve agent. Milne prefers to doubt MI6 and give the benefit of the doubt to the FSB….
Jeremy Corbyn said Vladimir Putin’s illegal incursion into Ukraine which saw the annexation of Crimea was “not unprovoked” and that there were “huge questions” over Western intentions in the country. In a 2014 article for the Morning Star at the height of the Ukraine War Corbyn wrote:
“On Ukraine, I would not condone Russian behaviour or expansion. But it is not unprovoked, and the right of people to seek a federal structure or independence should not be denied. And there are huge questions around the West’s intentions in Ukraine.”
At the same time Corbyn was making excuses for Putin’s actions his top spinner Seumas Milne was loudly defending the Kremlin. Milne, who has described Putin as “a centrist”, called the annexation of Crimea “clearly defensive”:
“Putin’s absorption of Crimea and support for the rebellion in eastern Ukraine is clearly defensive, and the red line now drawn: the east of Ukraine, at least, is not going to be swallowed up by Nato or the EU”
Don’t count on Corbyn backing the tough line against the Putin regime likely to be announced later today…
Why won’t Tom Watson hand back the half a million quid given to him by Max Mosley, despite Labour appearing to accept he isn’t a fit and proper donor? Well, Watson uses the money to fund his private office, which at nine full time staff members is the third largest in parliament. According to the Register of Secretaries and Research Assistants, Corbyn and McDonnell are the only MPs with more staff. Watson’s office has become a significant power base and giving the money back would weaken him considerably. That’s why Seumas Milne twisted the knife into Watson with his statement ditching Mosley earlier…
If this was a £5,000 donation rather than £500,000, there seems little question that he would give the money back. Watson faced with the choice: do the right thing and hand back the cash, or keep his bumper private office bankrolled by a former fascist…
A parliamentary bag-carrier in Portcullis House yesterday spied an animated Seumas Milne having a heated row with fellow Corbyn aide Jennifer Larbie. Our eyewitness says Seumas was having a “temper tantrum” and paced up and down as an unimpressed Jennifer stood with her arms folded. Seumas then threw his hands in the air and flounced off. Trouble in socialist paradise?
With the Venezuela crisis and now the North Korea stand-off dominating the headlines, it’s an awkward August on the foreign affairs front for the Leader’s Office. Surprise surprise, Jez hasn’t exactly taken a tough line on Kim Jong-un’s pariah dictatorship and its ambition to unleash a global apocalypse, previously opposing sanctions and suggesting its designation as a ‘rogue state’ is just a “pretext for undermining” it. Likewise, commie Corbynista campaign chief Andrew Murray expressed his “basic position of solidarity with People’s Korea”. Naturally…
Most embarrassed of all should be Seumas Milne, who was defending the ‘rationality’ of the North’s desire to develop and stockpile nukes as early as 2009. He wrote in a Guardian column:
“The idea… that there is something irrational in North Korea’s attempt to acquire nuclear weapons is clearly absurd. This is, after all, a state that has been targeted for regime change by the US ever since the end of the cold war, included as one of the select group of three in George Bush’s axis of evil in 2002, and whose Clinton administration guarantee of “no hostile intent” was explicitly withdrawn by his successor.”
So there you have it: Milne argued it was ‘rational’ for North Korea to ramp up efforts to acquire nukes, a proliferation process which has led us to where we are today. North Korea of course has made a lot of progress on literacy and equality…
Seumas Milne’s relationship with Julian Assange’s lawyer has raised security concerns about the confidential intelligence briefings received by Jeremy Corbyn. As a member of the Privy Council, Labour have confirmed that Corbyn has received security briefings about threats to the UK. Given the links between Assange, Wikileaks, hacking and Russia, it is a quite extraordinary situation for the Leader of the Opposition’s main aide to be involved with Assange’s long-term lawyer. Imagine if Theresa May’s top adviser was in bed with someone on the Wikileaks defence team – it would be a national scandal on a par with Donald Trump Jr.
The Hacked Off brigade’s criticism doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Hugh Grant, Hugh Tomlinson QC et alargue there is no public interest. The Editor’s Code sets several public interest conditions, including “Protecting public health or safety” and “impropriety, unethical conduct or incompetence concerning the public”. The security concerns easily satisfy the “protecting public health” condition, and no one can argue married Seumas has behaved properly or ethically.
Robertson claims the story fails to meet the Editor’s Code rule that “It is unacceptable to photograph individuals, without their consent, in public or private places where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy”. Seumas and Jennifer were in a hotel bar with dozens and dozens of other drinkers. As you can see from the nervous look on Seumas’ “unwilling” face, there was patently no reasonable expectation of privacy. The press haters will have to suck it up – any regulator or judge would throw out a complaint in about five minutes…
Robert Mendick in The Telegraph has been speaking to ‘friends’ of Seumas Milne who say he was “not a willing participant” in the hour long public display of affection last Thursday night. Guido’s co-conspirator with the camera-phone says otherwise. The ‘friend’ says “I know the pictures tell a different story… But I know there is nothing going on. I don’t think it’s a quick snog. There may have been a bit of nuzzling on her part but if you look at Seumas’s face, you can see he is not a willing participant.”How did Jennifer Robinson get him to hold her head? Did she suck his tongue out of him against his will as well?
Guido suspects Cristina won’t believe him the ‘friend’ and given that Seumas did not do his usual post-PMQs briefing, he didn’t fancy getting a ribbing from the Lobby lads who also don’t him believe. Or perhaps he is hiding a black eye when he failed to duck a flying plate of pasta?
Talking of pasta here is another picture of the couple snapped by a Guido co-conspirator in Ciao Bella. This time in a more discreet corner behind a pillar in the Bloomsbury Italian restaurant which is popular with lawyers. It was taken late on a Friday night a few months ago. It was March 10, if you are interested, Cristina…
Seumas Milne’s wife Cristina Montanari has taken legal advice – Guido’s betting she didn’t ask hubby if he knew anyone who could help. The Milnes are threatening the press with legal action if they attempt to contact them:
We have been contacted by Howe & Co on behalf of Cristina Montanari & Family.
“This is, at its heart, a matter of public trust,” he told the PM, concluding: “I cannot reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made to the country in our manifesto at the last election… I believe that the regulatory regime proposed for Northern Ireland presents a very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom. I cannot support an indefinite backstop arrangement, where the EU holds a veto over our ability to exit…”