Question: Who says this, of whom? "His claim to be on the left at all is rather thin."
Answer: Andrew Murray, Chairman of the Stop the War Coalition and advocate of "Solidarity with People's [North] Korea", of, er, me.
The comment appears in a 3,500-word review of my book, Anti-Totalitarianism, that Mr Murray has written for the Communist Morning Star, and which is appearing in the newspaper in three parts over Christmas and new year. He kindly sent me an advance copy of the review.
Mr Murray's comments about the thinness of my claim to be on the Left will stupefy regular readers of this site, along with my friends and family. But I have to say that, othewise, he has given a fair account of the book's argument, though he uses different terminology from mine (e.g. he says my politics are "those of an unmodified cold war warrior", whereas I prefer the term "liberal anti-Communist" or "anti-totalitarian".) He concludes:
This is a “left-wing” foreign policy which, for its execution, has... been sub-contracted to some of the most right-wing politicians on the planet. Not only has it led to a human catastrophe in Iraq – which even Oliver Kamm goes some way towards acknowledging – but the backwash from the enterprise is starting to threaten the very principles of “liberal democracy” in Britain and the USA which it purportedly set out to defend.
Mr Murray does, however, say the book is "stimulating", and comments:
Kamm’s writing is lucid and he draws on an extensive study of the history of the British left, handled in a trenchantly partisan manner but free of the student-politic ad hominem point-scoring which, happily, blights the output of “Labour Friends of Iraq”, for example, and the more excitable bloggers. His argument moves along briskly and provocatively.
I feel almost churlish in pointing out that Mr Murray is the author of a short book entitled The Communist Party of Great Britain: A Historical Analysis to 1941, published a decade ago by a group called Communist Liaison. In it he says (p. 74):
That things happened in the USSR which were inexcusable and which ultimately prejudiced Socialism's whole prospect is today undeniable. Whether Communists in the capitalist world could or should have done more than they did is much more contentious.
Mr Murray, in short, believes it is an open question whether Communists in the West did everything they could or should have done in their response to the Great Terror and the Moscow Trials. He is, to remind you, Chairman of the Stop the War Coalition.