Haylett defends Star over Livingstone

June 9 2016 at 11:02 PM
John Haylett 

Response to Haylett defends Star over Livingstone


My letter in the Morning Star on June 9:

AS a Morning Star staff member, I would not normally submit my views to our paper’s letters page, but Mary Davis’s direct reference to me (M Star June 8) compels me to respond.

Mary is correct to say that Ken Livingstone and the group around him supported my sacking as Morning Star editor in 1998, opposing comrades such as Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn who lined up in solidarity with Star journalists striking to secure my reinstatement.

However, she must recall that, following the successful conclusion of the strike, Ken and I agreed that he should once again write a regular column in the Morning Star.

It would have been easy to bear a grudge and to cold-shoulder Ken, but this would have gone against our paper’s ethos of encouraging labour movement unity and promoting the Morning Star as the daily voice of the left, not simply one section of it.

Mary, as a communist, knows that, where blacklisting and denial of platforms to people in the labour movement are concerned, communists are usually the first victims.

Such sanctions should be applied only to racists and fascists and, in my view, Ken cannot be considered either.

His shoot-from-the-lip style and refusal to apologise for ill-judged comments — such as his “concentration camp guard” dig at a Jewish journalist — will often provoke or irritate, but his political record is globally positive.

We have to be aware that the current furore about anti-semitism in the Labour Party has been largely confected as a device to undermine Jeremy Corbyn and demean his record of supporting Palestinian national rights.

Having, as political editor, discussed the issue with our editor Ben Chacko, I support his decision to give Ken a regular column.


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