Friday, 15 August 2014

Stalinism is alive and well at the Morning Star!

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the Communist newspaper the Morning Star doesn't think that the "public have no right to know" about issues that may affect the standing of a leading trade unionist in a union that the Star wishes to remain on good terms with.

This is a reference to the departure of journalist Rory McKinnon  fro the Morning Star as now reported on a number of blogs, including Another Angry Woman who had the temerity to ask questions about the domestic violence allegations made against RMT Deputy General Secretary Steve Hedley.

The allegations which surfaced last year caused some major consternation on the left, especially in the light of the "comrade delta" affair that was causing Britain's largest Trotskyist organisation to fall apart. In order to not cause the rival Socialist Party embarrassment he "resigned" membership but retained a roll in their Trade Union & Socialist Coalition running as a candidate in the recent round of local elections.

These allegations remain unproven but the handling of the case by the RMT leadership remains subject to criticism. MacKinnon states:

In March of this year I went as a Morning Star reporter – with the RMT’s approval – to cover its women’s conference in Glasgow. Women I knew of in the RMT were still talking about Leneghan’s case, and it made sense to me as a reporter to follow it up in the public interest, so I took advantage of a Q&A session with the union’s national organising co-ordinator Alan Pottage – a session on recruiting women organisers and combating sexism in the workplace – to ask whether he thought the lack of formal investigation into the allegations against Hedley had affected women members’ perceptions of the union. Pottage declined to comment and the session continued, but when delegates reconvened for the afternoon session the union’s equalities officer Jessica Webb and executive member Denis Connor approached my seat and forcibly ejected me from the conference. (You can find my full statement on the incident here).

The very next day the Morning Star’s editor Richard Bagley informed me that I had been suspended following allegations of gross misconduct and that any public comment I might make “could risk bringing the paper into disrepute and could have a bearing on [my] case”. (You can see the letter here and subsequent charges here.)

McKinnon faced a disciplinary hearing for raising these awkward questions and as a result found out that:

“After three years at the paper you should reasonably be expected to be familiar with the paper’s news priorities, which do not include reporting internal union rows or personal controversy. Your actions suggest a fundamental failure to grasp the Morning Star’s news focus, and by extension the role of any journalist employed by it.”

I was placed on a final written warning with twelve months’ probation, then went on to appeal (dismissed, ruling here), but that’s procedural stuff that isn’t strictly relevant.

What’s relevant, to my mind, is that readers cannot trust the Morning Star’s current leadership to report on abuse allegations and failures to formally investigate when they concern favoured figures in the trade union movement, even when those figures are elected officials. As the edition for 24 July shows, however – coincidentally the same day I had decided to give my notice – those Nasty Tories cannot expect such discretion. Feminist principles are a weapon with which to attack the right, but not an end in itself for the left.

Rory McKinnon has resigned from his position at the Star.

Things are far from well within the Stalinist paper as Shiraz Socialist is now reporting:

An extraordinary crisis has erupted at the Morning Star (de facto mouthpiece of the British Communist Party), resulting in the resignations of the editor and the company director. It stems from reporter Rory McKinnon’s questioning of the RMT leadership over allegations of domestic abuse against the union’s assistant general secretary Steve Hedley

Yet another split in the micro world of the far left of British politics, this time in the remnants of the Communist Party and guess what lesson we have learnt:

The Morning Star cannot be trusted!

Why is it I am not surprised?

Another nail in the coffin of one of the "57 varieties!

The sooner Communism is confined to the dustbin of history the better I say.

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