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Criticism of Milne[edit]

In researching this article, I did not find useable material in the traditional media which would reflect Milne's position as a somewhat controversial figure. The criticism is restricted to the blogosphere, which cannot be drawn upon here, not necessarily from 'neo-cons' as one of his most infamous defenders would allege. Philip Cross 21:40, 15 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Why would anyone ever cover Milne anywhere but the blogosphere? He is every bit the troll as any of the neocons who skewer him on Blogs. To do so would lend him credibility and I find no evidence that he has any. Further, a wikipedia article on him does't seem to have a premise. Everyone has opinions, why would we care about his? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:10, 14 August 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Winchester and Straight Left[edit]

Would someone please explain why Milne's Wykehamist past and his association with the 'traditionalist' wing of the former CPGB keep being airbrushed out of this article? Both facts are fairly well known, and the latter piece of information is easily deduced from his journalism. Philip Cross (talk) 12:01, 18 August 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Also he seems to be called Seumas Milne here, whereas in the Winchester College Register (which says precious little about him), he's Seamus. Millbanks (talk) 22:02, 1 September 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Was it a college typo of s.e.u.m.a.s? it has the same letters & Seumas seems to be all over the net Manytexts (talk) 22:15, 18 November 2010 (UTC)[reply]
It seems Seumas is more typically Scottish, and Seamus more Irish. His father Alasdair Milne was a Scot who had also been educated at Winchester. (talk) 11:30, 24 April 2019 (UTC)[reply]


The section "Political Views" would better fit into the one about criticism as it largely consists of points the editors apparently don't like. Especially what is written about his views on communism and gulag deaths to me seems like innuendo and original research and doesn't meet encyclopedia standards. Knopffabrik (talk) 10:04, 3 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

"Don't like?" Milne is quoted directly. The material on deaths in the Gulag is not so much innuendo as empirically based, but it is POV pushing and needs a third party source. Philip Cross (talk) 13:27, 3 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Gulag section[edit]

Cawdley made extensive edits on this article. I thought that some of his edits was quite reasonable and some were POV (obviously Cawdley thought the same about some of my edits). Cawdley has no userpage which makes communication difficult. Please open a userpage so people can leave you messages. One of Cawdley's most reasonable edits was deleting the following section (which I wrote):

Milne's cited numbers are based on soviet official records for number of prisoners in gulags,[1] and for number or arrested and convicted in the years 1921-1953.[2] According to a 1993 study of incomplete archival Soviet data, a total of 1,053,829 people died in the Gulag from 1934 to 1953. More complete data puts the death toll for this same time period at 1,258,537, with an estimated 1.6 million casualties from 1929 to 1953 (twice the amount stated by Milne for the period from 1921 to 1953). These estimates exclude those who died shortly after their release but whose death resulted from the harsh treatment in the camps, which was a common practice.Cite error: A <ref> tag is missing the closing </ref> (see the help page). (I've added a reference section to the discussion page so the notes on this section can be visible)

I don't think it's POV, rather more of a commentary on Milne's own quote, alas I think that it falls at least in part under Original Research. Nevertheless, it is an interesting segment, so I ask for editors counsel. Is there any way to keep it in the article as a footnote or by rephrasing or in any other way? Nik Sage (talk) 03:06, 12 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Daniel Hannan quote[edit]

Cawdley keeps removing the Daniel Hannan quote from the prause section. I think merely saying Hannan thinks Milne is a "Marxist" is unsatisfactory. This misrepresents Hannan's comments which are more subtle than a mere chant of the 'M' word allows for. Philip Cross (talk) 17:34, 12 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Hi Philip, I can't understand Cawdley's editions. Some of them are really in good taste, but some are totally unreasonable. This user has no userpage and he doesn't discuss his views in this page. Furhtermore he edits only pages related to Seumas Milne, which is of course allowed, but it also lent me to think this account is a sockpuppet. If I'm mistaken, Cawdley should open a userpage or at least take part in this discussion so we can avoid edit wars and make this already excellent article even better. As for the Hannan quote, I think it is a very interesting view from a political adversary and so, should be in the praise section and also in the political orientation section of the article. In general, I don't think Marxist is a smear, and definitely not as Hannan say it. Using a large part of the quote in the praise section will iluminate Hannan's meaning. I think this version is both NPOV and the fullest (Political Orientation, Praise). What do you think about it? (I'll also would like your opinion on the previous post). Nik Sage (talk) 21:45, 12 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Just a clarification, I think the current usage fo Hannan's quote in the article is the best so far. Nik Sage (talk) 22:07, 12 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]
The duplication of biographical details should be avoided, it is not as though we are developing an extended argument which needs to summarise an earlier point. Milne's basic orientation is clear before the first use of Hannan's comments. Philip Cross (talk) 07:45, 13 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]


Something wierd happenend to the article. I've changed the title of a section [1] and somehow it changed back [2]. Could someone explain me how it happened? Nik Sage (talk) 22:14, 12 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]

I don't think this article is quite fawning enough. And surely we can include an even longer list of people who went to the same meetings as he did some years ago? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:29, 10 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Bias, balance and strong comments[edit]

My comments in the edit summary do not make sense, so need an explanation. The "tendentious reputation" applies to Melanie Phillips only (though it might be assumed it applies to Milne or Collins and Pollard as well). Phillips comments at the moment are the only response to Milne's writing about Israel-Palestine, similarly Collins and Pollard are the best-known writers cited who have responded to Milne's writings about liberal democracy and communism. Any potential substitutes are also likely to be strong, while the notability and inclusion of the subjects comments are sustained in Wikipedia by the use of citations from third-parties. An opinion is not necessarily libellous.[3] The case for Milne's reputation as a "Stalinist" has to be included, simply because the amount of comment in last few days, and in the past, gives it significance. Milne does not appear to have made a direct defence of the Russian leader, unlike Andrew Murray, but his critics, in my view, are right to see him as an apologist for the Soviet Union's darkest period. Milne's most referenced comments on this issue are cited. Unfortunately, the better of two recent articles explicitly defending Milne (by John Wight) merely refutes the claim, but without much substance. (The other article on the Putin-backed Sputnik website is not a reliable source.) Both Wight, and Neil Clark, the writer of the Sputnik article, mock the assertion without offering any evidence to counter the Stalinist tag.

Neutral point of view is an important concept for Wikipedia editors to observe, but balance is not a requirement for articles. Philip Cross (talk) 19:42, 24 October 2015 (UTC)[reply]

After nearly six months, it appears no one else thinks the Neil Clark and John Wight pieces defending Milne should be cited either. Philip Cross (talk) 10:09, 4 May 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Another two months on, and Owen Jones defends Seumas Milne.[4] While I remain unconvinced that Jones has made an uncontentious assertion about Milne, that is not the point. Jones is a significant left-wing writer and his comment carries much more weight than the other potential defenders. Philip Cross (talk) 08:20, 14 July 2016 (UTC)[reply]


  1. ^ "ГУЛАГ"
  2. ^ "Количество арестованных и осужденных в 1921-1953 годы"
  3. ^ Eric Heinze "British MP exploits vague defamation law to sue Guardian journalist", The Conversation, 12 February 2015
  4. ^ Jones, Owen (14 July 2016). "Labour's right are a shambles – but Corbyn has questions to answer too". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 July 2016.

Query length, balance[edit]

Seems far too long for a pretty minor and possibly transient figure, much of it pretty ephemeral eg what X said about what Y said about M's appointment.

And although it's true few people have a good word to say about M, this whole piece does read as knocking copy by his (no doubt many) enemies.

In short this reads more like a blog than an encyclopaedia and there is or ought to be a difference between the two.

On detail its not an 'Opposition' post he holds but a Labour Party one. There are lots of parties making up the Opposition. Unraed (talk) 21:25, 26 January 2016 (UTC)unraed[reply]

"Views" section[edit]

Half of this, especially the latter parts, appears to be not about his views, but other people's views of his views. And, surprisingly enough, these mostly amount to critical and pithy comments from people hardly likely to be anything but hostile (eg Melanie Phillips, Nick Cohen etc – whose pages, as it happens, don't have the same treatment, even though they are just as controversial, if not more so), often sourced to newspaper blogs and op-ed columns. More or less none of them, apart from possibly the Brian Whitaker comment, is an attempt at substantive and rational third-party explanation or analysis of Milne's positions, which would actually be interesting and encyclopedic. N-HH talk/edits 11:00, 28 September 2016 (UTC)[reply]

We are meant to use third-party sources to establish the notability of biographical subjects. I have pointed out above that positive opinions of Milne are scarce, and invariably are fringe sources which would be thought contentious by most editors. I used Peter Preston's comments in the summary because I thought they were non-controversial as required and fair to Milne. But Milne's year as director of Comms has not been well received, regardless as to whether the current rumours turn out to be true. To be frank, however, I moved Preston's comments from the summary because the prominently placed comment might now be read as being unintentionally funny. Not very neutral. If any mainstream and admissible sources defended Milne's appointment, I have never come across them. Aside from Owen Jones brief comments about Milne a few months ago, which are cited, The Guardian has avoided doing so.
Personally, I do not like splits between biographical sections and opinions, and prefer to integrate them where possible. Milne's profile, until last year, was not high enough to be able to do this. Incidentally, negative comments were gutted from the Nick Cohen article a few years ago (not by me), and this has also happened, to a lesser degree, to the article about Melanie Phillips. Philip Cross (talk) 11:36, 28 September 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Beware of WP:IDONTLIKEIT, which is not a good enough reason to delete material. I do not mean the portion of the summary you removed, which would be out of date if Milne does leave his current post, and was waiting to see what happens before reworking it. Philip Cross (talk) 11:44, 28 September 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Well yes, but IDONTLIKEIT is an essay section about article deletion discussions, not a policy on content. And the bigger problem in my view is editors finding lots of negative but ultimately trivial media commentary from political rivals and/or opinionated columnists about a subject they dislike and shoving it into the article, then claiming "RS!". WP, as noted here and elsewhere, is an encyclopedia meant to explain what something or who someone is, not an opinion summariser or repository of passing commentary about that topic or person by people who dislike them (or like them), especially when that feeling is probably reciprocated. No encyclopedic value is created by having X's page say, "X thinks this, but Y disagrees with them and thinks they're stupid"; nor by having Y's page say in turn, "Y thinks this, but X disagrees with them and thinks they're stupid".
As I say, polemical and partisan commentary and criticism that don't actually add anything to understanding who Milne is or what he thinks should be gutted from this page, just as they should be from any other. The quotes from Philip Collins, Stephen Pollard, Oliver Bullough, Alex Massie and James Bloodworth, among others, all fall within that. They present no information about Milne; they're just slagging him off in broad terms, while putting forward their own, different, views. You seem to be starting from the assumption, here as in other places, that this page need to include direct criticism (or defence) of his appointment and/or his views. I don't accept that assumption. I'm not asking for similar but positive commentary to balance it. N-HH talk/edits 15:26, 28 September 2016 (UTC)[reply]
@N-HH: I, too, have just read the Milne article and reached the same conclusion. Much of it seems merely a hatchet job: X says something bad about Milne, Y says something, Z agrees with X and Y, and also thinks something else negative. Try writing an article like this on a right-winger, see how far you get! Philip Cross seems to have a rabid dislike of Milne, and is prepared to throw down as much bile as he likes and then cling to WP:RS. I mean, even the tone is wrong, dispensing with WP:SAY when it is deemed desirable (when quoting a critic of Milne, not quoting something that Milne says). --BowlAndSpoon (talk) 10:06, 15 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]
There's no justification for half the commentary currently included on the page, but I doubt any removal will last. Too many WP contributors want pages to slag off people they don't like, and once they learn how to hide behind a narrow reading of RS, there's not a lot that can be done about it. N-HH talk/edits 10:46, 15 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]
And this edit summary sums up the problem. This is meant to be an encylopedic biography, explaining who Milne is. It's not meant to be about either "defending" him or "attacking" him; nor is talk of "disreputable" outlets helpful or relevant. When it comes to pure commentary and opinion, "reliability" is not about which outlets are "right" or "wrong" and therefore belong here, as if to "prove" something, but simply about whether outlets are reliable sources for the opinions of their columnists and bloggers. They remain random opinions published in newspapers, and often not much more than polemical bile and invective, which tell us more about those writers than they do about the actual subject of the page. N-HH talk/edits 11:11, 15 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Taken together, I think the comments about Milne form a coherent whole. He has a litany of rather far-out opinions, outside the left mainstream, which are going to be heavily criticised by usable sources. Alternative or fringe opinions, see WP:FRINGE, are not intended to stand without a mention of more orthodox attitudes. That Milne has few real defenders is not something we can attempt to rectify. Apart from the James Kirkup article I added recently, which is best described as ambivalent, I know of only four articles defending him. The articles I mention above by Neil Clark and John Wight (which no other editor has attempted to add), the piece by Joe Emersberger added today, and Owen Jones passing comments which I added awhile ago. So any kind of balance between sources (which is not the same as a neutral point of view) is just not possible here. We are supposed to present third-party opinions about a biographical subject. It is too bad Milne is not presented in a better light, but to cut the negative material to the minimum, as seems to be the intention of other editors, is to mislead readers.
Incidentally, it does not matter, if like Melanie Phillips, the quoted commentator divides opinion themselves when they write for The Spectator or The Times, which both count as reliable sources, or for that matter Nick Cohen in serious, admissible, publications. (Obviously, Phillips pieces for the Mail are not likely to be considered RS.) Even Milne's long-standing outlet, The Guardian, has not made any thorough attempt to defend their contributor since he began to work for Corbyn. Philip Cross (talk) 11:40, 15 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]
As I have to keep saying, a WP bio is not a place to thrash out what lots of newspaper columnists happen to think about someone or something, whether those opinions appear in "reliable sources" or not. This is not about whether such people tend to attack or defend him. You keep missing, or not addressing, this fundamental point, even though you purport to be responding to what has been said. Analysis which explains who he is and what his positions are – yes, including those that explain that he is indeed quite far out on the left by mainstream standards, such as the 1997 Peter Popham quote – is one thing. Endlessly piling on uninformative invective and bile from other columnists who happen to disagree with him (just as he no doubt disagrees with them), and misleadingly citing WP:RS to justify it, is quite another. And the idea that Melanie Phillips would be "reliable" writing, say, in the Telegraph, but not in the Mail, again totally misunderstands the point about how RS applies in the context of pure commentary and opinion. As I explained above. N-HH talk/edits 11:56, 15 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]
What do you think should be done with the views section? A complete deletion? Philip Cross (talk) 12:06, 15 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]
I have explained that above too, on multiple occasions. A proper bio would, broadly, explain his political positions (although maybe not his views on everything under the sun). That would, in part, be based on third-party comment, where that factually laid out what those views were, as opposed to it being "Milne's an idiot; here are my views instead", as with the Philip Collins quote for example. Readers can make up their own mind whether that makes him a raving apologist for Stalin etc or a reasonable and rational thinker. I also note that you are still unilaterally adding exactly the sort of pointless material that people are complaining about, even as this discussion continues. N-HH talk/edits 13:01, 15 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]
You also need to hold off adding and resinserting all this crap. You have been called on it and just keeping banging on, without any justification being presented for any of your individual edits on the talk page. N-HH talk/edits 13:07, 15 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]
And you're still at it? You're behaving like a total prick here, not much better that the IP editor who keeps adding "Lady Nugee" to the Thornberry page. If you can't contain your desire to insert reams of text slagging the subject of a page off, based on random newspaper columns, take it to a blog please. The fact that right-wing columnists disagree with left-wing columnists (and vice-versa) is not interesting. N-HH talk/edits 13:11, 15 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Two editors are objecting today, that is all. See the user view statistics, currently averaging at just under 500 a day; the article itself has fewer than 30 watchers. Most users of this page are not objecting. I have not added material about Milne over which there is real dispute in the mainstream media, and oppose those who seem to want this page to be a whitewash. As far as legitimate additions to Wikipedia articles are concerned, it is irrelevant if some editors think "right-wing columnists disagree with left-wing columnists (and vice-versa)" are "not interesting". Clearly, I am not adding "random newspaper columns", as most have Milne as their main subject. The new comments from the Ben Judah article did not expand the article by much because I removed some repetition.
The comments being removed always seem to be by New Labour figures like Philip Collins, or leftish hate figures like Melanie Phillips. Those comments not being removed are from people critical of Milne, but with a lower profile, and perhaps less notable, who may not carry as much weight for readers. In other words, citations which someone genuinely neutral might point out to make this article better. Philip Cross (talk) 13:55, 15 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]

The "not many people who could have objected have done so" is always a cop-out I'm afraid and proves nothing, just as it never does when outright misinformation or hoax material sits on WP pages for years. The issue is the merit of any edits. Again, you have not addressed the fundamental point about relying on commentary (and when I say "random" I do not mean that Milne was not necessarily the topic of the column, I mean that polemical newspaper columns are two a penny). The comments that are being removed are those that add nothing to information about Milne – I would just as happily ask for the removal of quotes from people more favourable to him that simply said "He's a genius, and right about everything". The point is that you and others have stuffed this page with selective comments from people who dislike him, who are inevitably centrist or rightist, so those are the ones that are going to be cut out when people start actually addressing the problem. The way to build in reaction to a figure is to rely on the broad sweep of serious, balanced objective profiles (such as the Wilby one in the New Statesman, which is cited twice already), not to build our own preferred narrative based on our preferred discrete quotes from what are, in effect in this context, primary sources. As I said, you are just carrying on as if you own the page. You clearly have more energy for this than I do, and I do not want to waste an afternoon edit-warring or engaging in circular non-sequitur discussion with you. If you really believe that this content represents an unimpeachable fact about Milne's views which simply has to go into the page, rather than a highly subjective and pithy piece of selective commentary, you are never going to work this one out or get beyond the agenda which seems to cloud your editing here. N-HH talk/edits 14:27, 15 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Good grief. And now you're even removing the record of what he actually thinks? You can make a case against relying on selections made directly from his own columns and writings, and hence in effect just giving him a platform (although there's no WP policy that says as much), but not while you're arguing that every insult and possible out-of-context mischaracterisation of his views from every hostile columnist has to stay. N-HH talk/edits 14:34, 15 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]

In my opinion, the sentence you object to above ("Everything Milne hates in America he excuses in Russia", Ben Judah wrote in a Sunday Times article in late October 2015") would be the most appropriate in the entire article. The rest of the article demonstrates its validity, if one substitutes other countries like Iran, Syria or Cuba for Russia. It is not an "insult", nor is it an "out-of-context mischaracterisation", but insightful, even though similar comments have been made about Milne for years. Notability of content is demonstrated by what third-party sources say, which was not evident in the passages on Libya or Latin America as they stood. But you are objecting to new material being added, and adding any (probably) critical material on these issues to establish the notability of Milne's opinions is likely to be removed. In fact, BowlAndSpoon removed comments from the Libya section by one of Milne's critics, Daniel Knowles. As such comments are out there, they are going to be repetitive, he takes an "anti-West" viewpoint, etc, etc, etc, or an "insult" (your word) to Milne. Or readers can work out what he might think about these subjects for themselves. Philip Cross (talk) 15:09, 15 October 2016 (UTC) (Amended: Philip Cross (talk) 09:49, 16 October 2016 (UTC))[reply]

Well, yes, as I have repeatedly said: explain what his views are and readers can make their own minds up (and of course you're the one removing chunks of his actual words; not that I entirely disagree with trimming the amount of them to some extent). It should also be explained that he is a controversial figure to some and has faced criticism. However, neither of those things are done by simply quoting lots of pithy insults about him and his views directly from people who we know hate him or disagree with him (these things are matters of opinion, you know, not a question of what is "right" or "wrong"; plus you could just as easily – you know, if you actually wanted to – pick more complimentary quotes from the articles you are relying on), but by citing objective overviews and profile pieces. I have never "objected" to adding new material of that sort. Your edit summaries and your comments about how "insightful" cheap generalisations and insults are clearly flag up your agenda. And you have the nerve to accuse others of having one? And, as a last point, take a look at Alastair Campbell's page, who of course did Milne's current job some time ago and was formerly a political columnist, albeit a different one to Milne. He's been the subject of much criticism but his page is nothing like the hatefest you want this one to be. N-HH talk/edits 09:47, 17 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Er no, I have presented relevant points of view from RS, as editor's are supposed to do, which are accurate, verifiable and non-libellous about someone who is controversial. It is entirely normal to cite critics, but you and BowlAndSpoon show a disinclination to allow any. Milne's defence of Communism under Stalin is currently presented without anyone directly responding to his argument in 2006. Yet that article is probably his most cited column. Especially on contentious subjects, we are supposed to present the mainstream view, which entirely rejects Milne's position and empirically shows why he is wrong. As the Oliver Bullough New Statesman piece does, but there are many, many others. All absent. Evidence and information in an encyclopedia, whatever next.
It is not my fault the article about one of your least favourite people, Alastair Campbell, is too mild and forgiving for your taste. Surprisingly, it isn't being edited very much most of the time. His defence of, and time working for ... Blair do not dominate the article, and yes, hardly any opinion pieces about this period of his career are cited. Increasingly, just like this gutted article. Philip Cross (talk) 14:07, 17 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Drop the axe. "Defense of the USSR under Stalin"? I don't see anything in the #Communism section that remotely approaches that. Equating Soviet Communism to Nazism and denying any and all achievements of the Soviet system is not the mainstream view. Think it is? Debate that point in the relevant articles, instead of a BLP where Soviet history is a minor footnote. Let me help out here, though. There was some Guardian piece by Milne in 1990 arguing that the number of 25 million excess deaths was hugely exaggerated (which it was). In the same piece he cited demographic historians (from Frank Lorimer on) in support of the idea that the number was "closer to 3.5 million" and surely under 10 million (in the same essay he noted the huge figure of 800K executions—which was absolutely correct). That number turned out to be huge underestimate, so it was an unwise unwise for Milne to intervene in an ongoing scholarly debate in the way that he did. But it did not make him a "Stalinist" anymore that it made the scholars he cited "Stalinists". Note the past tense: if someone defended that figure today, they might be soft on Stalin. But applying that judgement retroactively is oppo-research, something that you've been doing way too much of here. Guccisamsclub (talk) 07:36, 18 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Heh, you missing the point. I doubt anyone at Commentary would even dream of faulting Reagan for arming (nevermind verbally supporting) these alleged "head-loppers". Of course any apologist for this policy would quickly retort—correctly—that "head-lopper" is an unfair characterization of the anti-Soviet resistance. But when the US did the invading, it became fair to characterize the resistance in those terms. In fact it became mandatory—since apparently anyone who disagrees with this characterization now is a terrorist-sympathizer. This is more hilarious than than any twist and turn of Soviet propaganda back in the day. Why is it needed here? Guccisamsclub (talk) 08:19, 18 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]
I'll note that the reason this article has turned into a oppo-research fest is that most of the commentary on Milne is critical. Who'd want to write essay after essay in defense of Milne? Maybe a few, but not nearly enough to balance the critics. If you mainly agree with someone, and that someone is not a major world figure, it is really hard to muster the energy to write positive commentary. But if you vehemently disagree with someone for political reasons, then you can write endless reams of polemic on the most minor issue. This is a well known dynamic. Most wikipedia articles about politically-charged LP's take this into account, and therefore do not give polemical criticisms the same amount of space that they would occupy in print —isolating only the most incisive and notable bits. We should probably follow that here. Guccisamsclub (talk) 08:41, 18 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]
There are 4 articles which defend Milne, two of which are cited. The quote from the piece by Joe Emersberger alleges a media conspiracy against him. As it is clearly false, I find it amusing and ridiculous, as if it is a surprise Milne opinions receive negative comment. Owen Jones use of the word "soulless" helps him have it both ways, he says Milne has been "wronged" by the media, but does not quite say Milne is not a "Stalinist apparatchik". So Milne's defenders can help the other side; unsurprisingly, pundits on the Putin-backed RT keep defending Milne. Using the pieces by the two RT contributors, John Wight and Neil Clark, would help make Milne's cosy relationship with the Putin government even clearer. Perhaps that is why no one has tried to add them. There are plenty of blog articles about Milne, but no other blogger as far as I can determine has defended him. Those 4 articles saying little more than Milne is a nice chap. Not that such blogs are admissible sources, but I mention this to suggest your argument is not sustainable. So there is not much of a case for defence. Nor do the issues raised about Milne journalism concern any "minor issue", but significant historical events. Citing Milne, or the pieces by his detractors elsewhere, are likely to be removed because Wikipedia concentrates on mainstream opinion. Little reason to bother with someone with fringe politics in other articles, except for someone like Chomsky, but Milne is a notable figure. The controversy around his opinions cannot be ignored. If other users wanted to remove the Views section entirely, and work towards constructing a wholly chronologically structure in this article, which I prefer anyway, I would not object. If I thought other editors were "isolating only the most incisive and notable bits" of comment, I would not have a problem. But I do not. At the moment, every third-party reliable source is a target for other editors.
The print versus new media argument does not wash. Wikipedia is meant to emulate conventional writing as much as possible, even though most of the 5 million articles English Wikipedia would not be subjects for entries in Encyclopedia Britannica. Many editors use the polemical argument to excise significant issues, the virtual absence of the Labour Party antisemitism crisis from the Jeremy Corbyn article is a case in point. Having tried several times to rectify the problem of a significant issue being avoided, because Corbyn's defenders dominate the development of that article, I am not sympathetic to that argument. Philip Cross (talk) 10:03, 18 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Owen Jones use of the word "soulless" helps him have it both ways, he says Milne has been "wronged" by the media, but does not quite say Milne is not a "Stalinist apparatchik". Probably because the charge is so idiotic as to be beneath comment. Stalinist apparatchiks don't exist in today's world. Say whatever you want about his opinions about the Soviet Union or his soft-spot for Putin and Assad, none of this makes him a Stalinist. At the moment, every third-party reliable source is a target for other editors. As far as I am concerned, you are wrong. There are plenty of critiques here that I'd keep. Of course if you edit the article with the POV you demonstrated in the comments, you will be liable to misinterpret politically-motivated smears from right-wing pundits as cogent critiques. As far as who's "mainstream" and who's "fringe", you comment is ridiculously broad. So, broadly speaking, I'll say this: the Right is constantly and loudly complaining about being completely driven out of the academy by the "radical Left". If they are telling the truth, it they and not people like Chomsky who are fringe relative to existing scholarship. If they are lying, then they are liars. So which is it?

Guccisamsclub (talk) 10:38, 18 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Btw, apropos Philip Cross's earlier response re the Campbell article. I never said he was one of my "least favourite people" – that is your invention. I also never said his page was "too mild and forgiving for [my] taste". Indeed, I said the opposite: that it was a good example of how to avoid stuffing pages with hostile soundbites from random newspaper op-eds, even when there are plenty of them about. No wonder these arguments go round and round in circles. You don't even understand the clear points people are making. Plus of course you're still moaning on about the amount of polemical media criticism you can find, and bloviating about your own personal opinion of Milne and denigrating everyone else's motivation, while blithely ignoring the broader underlying point, which has been made about 10 times now, that none of this relevant to building an encyclopedia article. N-HH talk/edits 11:06, 18 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]

I refer to the Neutral Point of View article.

Undue weight can be given in several ways, including but not limited to depth of detail, quantity of text, prominence of placement, and juxtaposition of statements. In articles specifically relating to a minority viewpoint, such views may receive more attention and space.

Regardless as to whether one thinks Milne (or Chomsky) is, or should not be considered mainstream opinion, reliable sources clearly view Milne as possessing minority viewpoints.

However, these pages should still make appropriate reference to the majority viewpoint wherever relevant and must not represent content strictly from the perspective of the minority view. Specifically, it should always be clear which parts of the text describe the minority view. In addition, the majority view should be explained in sufficient detail that the reader can understand how the minority view differs from it, and controversies regarding aspects of the minority view should be clearly identified and explained. How much detail is required depends on the subject.

So on Communism, Putin, Al Quaeda and Isis, mainstream opinion, as it applies to Milne, should be here.

For instance, articles on historical views such as Flat Earth, with few or no modern proponents, may briefly state the modern position, and then go on to discuss the history of the idea in great detail, neutrally presenting the history of a now-discredited belief. Other minority views may require much more extensive description of the majority view to avoid misleading the reader.

Even Milne seems to accept Soviet Communism is discredited, much as he enthuses about aspects of it, or is keen to play down the darker aspects. Which suggests a personal attachment remains, or why not accept the findings of the vast majority of historians. As he does not. At the moment, we just have a short comment from Alex Massie on Milne's Soviet apologetics. The parties still espousing Leninist politics are tiny and, in Britain, organisations with Islamist sympathisers are small too, or defunct, or even illegal. Sympathising with Islamists is one of the claims made against Milne. Milne's total rejection of Capitalism, or so it seems, also has few takers now. We don't currently have a response to this; Brian Whittaker's comments which followed belong elsewhere. It is now, I hope, an uncontroversial conclusion to the the Putin and Russia section, and a verifiably accurate comment about Milne, shared by numerous other commentators. It does not matter if other editors disagree with Whittaker, personal opinions don't enter into this. Unless one happens to share the majority viewpoint about Milne. Obviously, except for anyone inclined to view the government's of Putin and the rest positively, which is likely to be held by a small minority.

Wikipedia should not present a dispute as if a view held by a small minority deserves as much attention overall as the majority view.

Quite so. Milne possesses few mainstream opinions, but other editors seem quite happy for the article to give no impression of this, at least in the Views section which everyone else seems to want to retain. Philip Cross (talk) 12:53, 18 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]

reliable sources clearly view Milne as possessing minority viewpoints. Yeah, you appear to think that op-eds by pundits are so "reliable" that they should be permitted to set the overall tenor of the article. I don't.Milne's total rejection of Capitalism, or so it seems, also has few takers now. It can't be that "total" given his alleged love for Putin, whom Ben Judah condemns as being "no socialist". So on Communism, Putin, Al Quaeda and Isis, mainstream opinion, as it applies to Milne, should be here... [because Milne is a flat earther]. Nonsense, especially given where this "mainstream opinion" comes from. Tory and militant New Labour op-ed writers don't get to set the bounds of rational discourse round the world. The fact that they've insulted Milne in print does not mean they get the megaphone here, especially given that many of these same voices won't shut up about how they've been marginalized by radical Marxists, Corbynites, anti-imperialists, liberals etc.Guccisamsclub (talk) 17:13, 18 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]
I stick with Wikipedia policies, outlined above on minority and majority viewpoints. You are out of Alice Through the Looking Glass: "'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.'" I cannot help if the example given on the NPOV page was about a flat-earther, the general point is not invalidated. Whether or not "Tory and militant New Labour op-ed writers don't get to set the bounds of rational discourse round the world" is not relevant to developing this article. They are the majority viewpoint in the UK's reliable sources. Milne and his acolytes are not, and Corbyn's Labour in the polls are behind the Tories by 17% or so.
But you have helped make my argument for me. If the Nick Cohen comment about Milne, who "doffs the cap to Putin's capitalist kleptocracy" had survived (a judgement which is based on the work of the American academic Karen Dawisha), the paradox about his sympathies for Putin would be clearer than the Ben Judah comment you referred to. The Brian Whittaker piece too, and the numerous other removed comments, about him being consistently anti-west, criticising America in ways he does not about Russia, and so on, also back this up. Variations on a theme are the usual method for any coherent piece of writing, and as this is true of both Milne and his critics, it is not an invalid way to develop this article. "The fact that they've insulted Milne in print does not mean they get the megaphone here". Oh tough, on this occasion I have little time for minority rights. "Especially given that many of these same voices won't shut up about how they've been marginalized by radical Marxists, Corbynites, anti-imperialists, liberals etc." Oh dear, free speech can be such an irritant when one only wants to hear a so-called "anti-imperialist" like Milne at a demo. Again it is your own viewpoint creeping in, which is untrue anyway. Corbyn's Labour is stuck at around 26% in recent opinion polls, and he has the largest negative rating of any British opposition leader in the last fifty years. Most of the population, including the working class apparently, are put off by Corbyn. And no doubt would be by Milne if he was better known. My point is that they are both pretty marginal figures, for commentators and the people. Philip Cross (talk) 18:45, 18 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Well, I was basing my comment on the US, where the Right likes to complain about being marginalized by liberals, radical Marxists and feminazis. Quite possibly, the British Right plays the victim card a good deal less frequently. Would this be your argument? Guccisamsclub (talk) 16:47, 20 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]


The theory that the two children were sent to a grammar school at Montanari's insistence was probably put in the article by Seumas or a supporter of his. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:04, 12 July 2017 (UTC)[reply]

I did. And no, I am not a "supporter" of Seumas Milne. Philip Cross (talk) 09:22, 12 July 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Yeah, you are. Khamba Tendal (talk) 19:28, 14 March 2018 (UTC)[reply]

I recommend you do some elementary research on your claim. Philip Cross (talk) 12:25, 21 April 2018 (UTC)[reply]
This appears to be well-sourced, so I think it should stay. Absolutelypuremilk (talk) 12:36, 22 April 2018 (UTC)[reply]

Inclusion of his views on the Berlin wall?[edit]

I would argue these should be included in the article, as they're fairly important to gain an insight into Milne's mind.

2A02:C7F:A446:2200:240D:D6F0:C75C:CDC2 (talk) 12:18, 3 August 2017 (UTC)[reply]

I recently added details about George Galloway's 2009 interview with Milne on this subject. Although the only substantial written source is far from ideal, it does not misrepresent what Milne says in the intrview. Philip Cross (talk) 11:09, 2 December 2017 (UTC)[reply]
While the Berlin Wall was technically part of a front line, it would be naive to think that the western powers in Berlin ever had enough military strength to attack East Germany from it. It was seen by East Germans as keeping them in, and not keeping anyone else out. (talk) 11:22, 24 April 2019 (UTC)[reply]

The ideological orientation of Milne's critics[edit]

I think it is important to include within the article, the ideological affiliation of Milne's critics who are cited in the text. At the moment, their criticisms of Milne are given in passing as if they are just some kind of neutral observer. Especially on controversial issues.

  • Russia: Nick Cohen and Michael Mosbacher are both associated with Standpoint (magazine) which is very much of a pro-American, neoconservative tilt (same with the Euston Manifesto that Cohen has signed). Indeed BDE (Before the Donald Era) it could be described as rabidly pro-American in orientation. Now, obviously this contrasts 180 degrees with Milne's views and so should be qualified in the article.
  • Lexit/Brexit: John McTernan was a servant of Tony Blair during the New Labour era. His attempts to suggest that Milne was controlling Corbyn on Brexit should be qualified by mentioning the objective fact that McTernan is a Blairite (the main thrust of the argument may be correct, since the actual ideological left, not the bourgeois liberals and students who Labour have to rely on for support, are generally anti-EU, but it still should be qualified). Claíomh Solais (talk) 16:01, 12 October 2017 (UTC)[reply]
Not really the practice here and, in any case, does not mean Milne's critics are automatically wrong in their comments about him. Still, if like Milne, you personally think Tony Blair is appalling, and Vladimir Putin is not, you are still perfectly safe from Blairites. Philip Cross (talk) 17:32, 12 October 2017 (UTC)[reply]
And naturally, it does not mean Milne's admirers and "friends" are not immune, to reverse the intended meaning of tweets from a contributor to the Putinite RT network and website, from "Biased, agenda-driven" writing. Philip Cross (talk) 12:15, 21 April 2018 (UTC)[reply]
Now that Crossgate has become a thing. This issue needs to be looked at again. Big Phil's presentation of anti-Milne partisans such as Neocon Nick Cohen and Blairite John McTernan as somehow objective and matter of fact sources who should be give the floor, to the exclusion of other reference material presenting contrary views needs to be heavily scrutinised. Claíomh Solais (talk) 02:09, 30 May 2018 (UTC)[reply]

Commentary and bias again[edit]

Further to the above, I see Philip Cross has been back on this page again this month, reinserting lots of polemical negative media commentary, and then immediately removing positive commentary. You can't really be more blatant than this. As discussed previously, this is a pathetic and totally uninformative way to go about creating a BLP, twice over: an encyclopedia entry about a person is not meant to be a "review" of the subject based on an aggregation of general media commentary on them (whether positive or negative) and certainly not one selectively sourced solely to reflect negative viewpoints. If PC can't edit a page with any sense of either a) how to write a factual bio that actually offers information about the subject rather than about other people's random views of them or b) how to write disinterestedly and neutrally, they shouldn't be editing that page. As people are beginning to notice, this is a problem with his behaviour across WP. N-HH talk/edits 21:34, 24 May 2018 (UTC)[reply]

All very well, but by reverting his edits you have nevertheless reinstated at least one dead link that PC had painstakingly flagged up. JezGrove (talk) 22:01, 24 May 2018 (UTC)[reply]
That was the one useful change in that series of edits, but it wasn't by him, but by a bot. Slight laziness on my part, but I just let it go as collateral damage rather than allowing it all to get too complicated (and assumed the bot would come round again eventually). That's another problem with prolific editors like PC: unpicking their changes can be harder than it's worth for the more casual editor. Anyway, sorted now. N-HH talk/edits 08:11, 25 May 2018 (UTC)[reply]

Milne's articles following Kremlin's line[edit]

There is some dispute over content which was added. Tory MP Bob Seeley found that Milne's articles mirrored some of Russia's talking points. I think this is reasonably relevant, especially if we can find further sources. Absolutelypuremilk (talk) 16:19, 26 May 2018 (UTC)[reply]

I added the passage about Bob Seely's claims a couple of weeks ago in anticipation that it might be the start of a significant development. Apart from the inevitable spoiler or rehash from another website, and a couple of blogs, the issue has not taken off. So the removal of the passage looks legitimate for now. Philip Cross (talk) 16:54, 26 May 2018 (UTC)[reply]
Seeley did not "find" anything, he and a Ukrainian activist concocted a pretty wild and speculative allegation. As even the person who added it admits, no one else ran with this. A WP BLP should not be stuffed with every one-off random claim made by someone politically hostile to the subject. If there was widespread factual reporting of, say, leaked emails between Milne and Dmitry Peskov actually showing Milne taking orders from Moscow, that would be different, but absent that, this is silly stuff that people can put in their blogs if they're that excited by it. I'm reverting its latest reinsertion, and perhaps that person could make the case here if they disagree. N-HH talk/edits 09:34, 2 June 2018 (UTC)[reply]


Further to all the above sections, this quote, which I am trying to remove, is simply irrelevant to a biography of Milne. This page is not titled "How might one describe the break-up of the Soviet Union, and is Milne right in his characterisation of it - please debate?" The point of a BLP when it comes to the subject's views is not to argue the toss about whether those views are "right" or not, but to explain what they are. N-HH talk/edits 16:40, 2 June 2018 (UTC)[reply]

Milne is a frequent commentator - and political advisor to the Leader of the Opposition - on the topic of Russia. Bullough is an esteemed Russia expert. He has written, in The Times no less, on Milne's views of Russia, ergo.....
Surely some criticism of the subject, even if it is a BLP, is warranted? Right now it appears there's about 4 lines, in an article of 4,000+ words. ZinedineZidane98 (talk) 18:41, 3 June 2018 (UTC)[reply]
Well, he's not an "esteemed expert", he's a journalist with some knowledge of the country (and one, FWIW, not currently considered notable enough for his own WP page). He has opinions about things; Milne has opinions about things. I'm not sure the fact that they happen to disagree, as attested solely by Bullough's own op-ed, is relevant to a BLP. First, as discussed at length in previous sections, BLPs are not a "review" of the subject and their opinions (and if they are, why not quote the bits where Bullough says Milne is "by all accounts lovely" and that he ran a "vibrant" comment section at the Guardian?) Secondly, in this specific case, the quote being used has nothing to do with Milne per se anyway: it's just giving us Bullough's view of the breakup of the USSR, which happens to differ from Milne's, supposedly. Neither Bullough nor the USSR are the topic of the page.
Of course BLPs don't have to be hagiography, and Milne is no doubt a controversial figure for some with views that some consider to be outside the mainstream. But that can be reflected without cherry-picking and citing random, individual pieces of criticism, often from people of limited notability and/or those with an axe to grind or inevitable and unsurprising differences of view with the subject - for example by relying on broader in-depth profile pieces, which assess reaction to the subject with a bit more perspective and context. Like this one (which is used currently in a couple of places). N-HH talk/edits 09:27, 4 June 2018 (UTC)[reply]
Actually, Bullough is an esteemed expert. And he was writing specifically about Milne, and his position on Russia. So, that's some nice words you've written, but you haven't address you actually argument. — Preceding unsigned comment added by ZinedineZidane98 (talkcontribs) 06:56, 5 June 2018 (UTC)[reply]
Um, it's you who haven't actually addressed any of the arguments I've made or made any logical point at all, just declarations of purported fact. You've also reverted wholesale again other changes, not just the Bullough stuff, without even pretending to address the problems with those other bits. How on earth is "the destruction of the USSR was not some Versailles-style treaty imposed from outside. Russia, Ukraine and Belarus did it themselves" a comment about Milne himself (quite apart from all the other points I made about how this content is problematic)? It's all yours, I'm too bored of dealing with morons and fuckwits on Wikipedia who can't contribute to a purported encyclopedia in good faith or even discuss obvious problems without pithily saying "you're wrong" and just edit-warring. N-HH talk/edits 09:36, 5 June 2018 (UTC)[reply]
Try reading a book instead. Perhaps even one of Bullough's on Russia. You'll learn a lot... and you'll also understand why his views of Milne's stances are notable. ZinedineZidane98 (talk) 11:31, 7 June 2018 (UTC)[reply]

NPOV tag[edit]

The page currently has a {{npov}} tag. This was placed in April 2019 by an IP editor. No corresponding discussion was started on the talk page by that editor and other suggestions of bias above seem too vague to be actionable. To support this tag, we need a list of specific points which are actionable so that we can address them. If the points are narrow and relate to a particular section, then that section should be tagged rather than the whole article. As the lead of the article currently seems reasonable and there's no specific case to answer, I'm removing the tag as stale and unsupported. Andrew D. (talk) 11:05, 27 November 2019 (UTC)[reply]

Photo and languages[edit]

The article lacks a photo so I looked for free images. The best possibility seems to be one of the CC photos taken at the Valdai International Discussion Club but I'm not certain that it's him and the captions don't make it clear. The narrative there gives the impression that Milne questioned Putin in Russian so I also looked for confirmation of that. I found an entertaining comparison of Milne with Cummings at the Evening Standard but that only says that Cummings speaks Russian. There's more personal details at The Tatler but again no confirmation of the languages. Andrew D. (talk) 13:46, 27 November 2019 (UTC)[reply]

Criticism by Timothy Snyder[edit]

Here is also some criticism by Timothy Snyder regarding his views towards Russia.

Snyder, Timothy (2018). The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America. New York: Tim Duggan Books. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-525-57446-0.

Guardian associate editor Seumas Milne opined in January 2014 that “far-right nationalists and fascists have been at the heart of the protests” in Ukraine. This corresponded not to The Guardian’s reporting from Ukraine but to the Russian propaganda line. Milne dismissed from the record the labors of about a million Ukrainian citizens to turn the rule of law against oligarchy: an odd turn for a newspaper with a left-wing tradition. Even after Putin had admitted that Russian forces were in Ukraine, Milne was claiming that “the little green men” were mostly Ukrainian. At Putin’s presidential summit on foreign policy at Valdai in 2013, the Russian president had claimed that Russia and Ukraine were “one people.” Milne chaired a session of the 2014 summit, at Putin’s invitation.

--Jo1971 (talk) 20:16, 6 March 2023 (UTC)[reply]