Given that the first rule of spin doctoring is to never become the story, Seumas Milne hasn’t had a great few months. First Corbyn’s director of comms became the story after several Labour MPs blamed him for this month’s reshuffle shambles. Now, Milne is in the firing line over his links with Vladimir Putin.
After an inquiry found that Putin ‘probably’ approved the murder of ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 in the UK, a photo of Milne and Putin shaking hands began to do the rounds. Now Labour grandee Lord Soley has hit out at Milne, claiming the former Guardian columnist is a ‘friend of tyrants’. The pair met when Milne chaired the Hammersmith Labour party when Soley was the constituency MP.
‘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.’
With Mr S hearing that brains at Labour are growing tired of Milne making headlines, he has at least refrained from offering up his personal view on the Litvinenko inquiry’s findings.
Happily Milne’s ‘best friend’ George Galloway has found time to share his thoughts.
During an interview on Newsnight last week, Galloway said the report — by Sir Robert Owen — was a ‘Whitehall farce’ before describing Putin as a ‘strong President’.