How would the UK media cover a Labour Party official who ‘flirted’ with Nazism?

The question in our headline was elicited by the casual manner in which the Financial Times noted the following about Jeremy Corbyn’s Communications Director Seumas Milne in the final paragraph of a Jan. 14th article by their chief political correspondent, Jim Pickard.

In the 1980s he chaired the local Labour party in Hammersmith, west London, where Clive Soley was the sitting MP. Lord Soley, as he is now, remembers him as a young man who leaned towards Marxism. “He was oversympathetic to autocratic regimes and undersympathetic to countries with the rule of law and democracy,” he recalls. “That is the worst aspect of the hard left.”

In fact, Milne, a longtime Guardian editor prior to joining team Corbyn, didn’t merely “lean towards Marxism”, but worked for a publication (Straight Left) which was “a hard-line anti-reformist pro-Soviet faction within the Communist Party”.

Indeed, there is little to suggest, persuasively argued Michael Mosbacher in a December article in StandPoint, that Milne has moved away from his old political sympathies. (For instance, whereas Straight Left supported the Soviet invasions of Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan in the 60s and 70s, Milne often rails against the West’s “imperialist” wars in the Middle East.) 

It’s important to put this in perspective. Milne didn’t ‘merely’ support the ideology of Marxism in theory. He supported its expansionist totalitarian manifestation in practice, an ideology which led to terror, repression and genocide on a scale which is arguably on par with Nazism. 

And, herein lies the point.  A media and political figure in British life who ‘flirted’ with Nazi ideology, or worked for a pro-Nazi publication, would almost certainly be disqualified from working for a respectable media outlet or from holding office within a non-extremist political party.

At the very least, this hypothetical figure – upon attaining a high profile position – would certainly be challenged by the media to renounce his previous support for extremism.

The fact that Milne has essentially been given a pass even by the media, even upon assuming the role of communications director for the leader of the second largest party in the UK, speaks volumes about the curious moral double standards at play when contextualizing the 20th century’s twin evil ideologies. 

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