Jeremy Corbyn Appoints Guardian Journalist As Media Chief
Seumas Milne will take on the powerful role of head of strategy and communications for the new Labour leader.
Jeremy Corbyn has appointed Guardian columnist Seumas Milne, one of the most left-wing writers at the newspaper, to serve as Labour's executive of strategy and communications as the Labour leader cements his control over the party.
The decision has been taken as a sign that Corbyn is intent on bringing in individuals who already support his views rather than relying on existing party staff to enact his policies.
A former Guardian comment editor, Milne is known for his hard-left views and anti-US stance. Back in 2004 he said members of Iraq's insurgency as "are routinely damned as terrorists" but are instead "a classic resistance movement, waging an increasingly successful guerrilla war against the occupying armies". He also has a long record of attacking Western imperialism, writing shortly after 9/11 that "most Americans simply don't get" why their country was targeted by terrorists.
Milne, who will officially be "on leave" from the newspaper rather than giving up his job entirely, will start work on Monday following weeks of discussion about what form his role would take. Corbyn struggled with media management in the early weeks of his leadership and the appointment is designed to provide greater focus. It also shows a move away from decades of such media hires coming via either internal Labour appointments or by recruitment from the world of traditional political reporters.
Milne was an early supporter of Corbyn's bid for the leadership, describing the Labour leader's victory as "political eruption of historic proportions" that proved that the party's future did not lie in centrist politics.
However, it is likely that his own writing will also face scrutiny. In recent years he has criticised NATO's role in the Ukraine for adding to "anti-Russian incitement", insisting Putin is a centrist "in Russian terms". He also stated the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby on a London street by Islamist extremists "wasn't terrorism in the normal sense of an indiscriminate attack on civilians" because Rigby was a serving member of the armed forces, while insisting that Syria's President Assad would not use chemical weapons.
The son of a former BBC director-general, he has a deep distrust of "corporate media" and has called for restrictions on the ownership of multiple media outlets by individuals such as Rupert Murdoch.
"The media and political establishment has proved incapable of managing the intrusion of Corbyn's democratic insurgency into what had seemed a well-insulated elite order," he wrote in September. "Media organisations that have for years called every major issue wrongly, from the war on terror to the economy, find themselves unable to deal with a movement that has overturned the rules of the game."
Unusually for a newly appointed press adviser, he hinted in one of his recent columns that he believes the Labour leader's lack of media training is a positive: "[Corbyn's] evident lack of spin and professional political chicanery is of course part of his appeal."