Labour Party Appointments
Two recent appointments highlight the internal Labour Party tensions following Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader.
The first is reassuring. Stephen Doughty, MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, has taken on responsibility for matters relating to the Falkland Islands in support of Shadow Foreign Secretary, Hilary Benn. In his initial press release, Stephen Doughty indicated that the Labour Party "has a clear and unchanged policy” to support the Islanders’ right to remain British as long as they desire and that any decision on their future would have to be made by the Falkland Islanders themselves. Mr Doughty said that he would visit the Falkland Islands early next year. All good stuff.
Seumas Milne’s appointment as the Labour Party’s Executive Director of Strategy and Communications from 26 October is much less so. Previously a columnist and associate editor of the Guardian, Milne is known for his hard left views. Just after the referendum in the Falkland Islands, he ran a piece in the Guardian on 12 March 2013 condemning the British presence in the Falkland Islands as a "Ruritanian absurdity in the South Atlantic”. Setting aside the Islanders’ overwhelming vote in favour of remaining a British Overseas Territory, he argued that a negotiated settlement was in the interests of the UK, Argentina - and the Islanders - and the sooner, the better.
Milne’s appointment will presumably have been endorsed personally by Jeremy Corbyn, whose views on the Falkland Islands are probably similar. Let us hope that the Parliamentary Labour Party retains control over Labour Party policy on defence and foreign affairs.