Scottish Daily Mail

Hard-Left war­rior who hides his blue blooded her­itage

- An­drew Pierce re­port­ing

HE is the man drafted in by Jeremy Cor­byn to try to sal­vage the Labour party’s chaotic elec­tion cam­paign. So you might as­sume An­drew Mur­ray would want to keep quiet about the fact that un­til less than a year ago, he was ac­tu­ally a lead­ing mem­ber of the Com­mu­nist party.

A mem­ber of 40 years’ stand­ing, he was an out­spo­ken apol­o­gist for the Soviet Union –even once sug­gest­ing that bru­tal dic­ta­tor Joseph Stalin had been un­fairly ma­ligned – and ex­press­ing ‘sol­i­dar­ity’ with North Korea, the most re­pres­sive dic­ta­tor­ship on Earth.

In fact, Mur­ray has never been afraid to ad­ver­tise his sym­pa­thies. In his of­fice at the Unite union head­quar­ters, he proudly dis­plays a large photo of Vladimir Lenin, the Rus­sian com­mu­nist revo­lu­tion­ary whom he counts among his heroes.

Some­thing Mur­ray has been less forth­com­ing about, how­ever, is his fas­ci­nat­ing blue-blooded her­itage, which has never come to light be­fore. As he takes up his job in Labour HQ, Cor­byn’s new con­sigliere ap­pears to have mys­te­ri­ously dropped his dou­ble bar­relled sur­name.

And he’s never drawn at­ten­tion to his en­try in De­brett’s, the en­cy­clo­pe­dia of the aris­toc­racy, or the motto of his mother’s fam­ily: ‘But hope is un­bro­ken.’

Labour party work­ers will be as­ton­ished by the ex­traor­di­nar­ily priv­i­leged back­ground of the man brought in to save their elec­tion cam­paign. It is one which is at to­tal odds with his pub­lic pro­nounce­ments about com­mu­nism.

Not only was Mur­ray pri­vately ed­u­cated, but he is the son of the ti­tled stock­bro­ker and banker, Peter Drum­mond-Mur­ray of Mas­trick. A de­scen­dant of the Earl of Perth, Drum­mond-Mur­ray was a se­nior fig­ure in Scot­tish her­aldry cir­cles where he held the ti­tle ‘Slain Pur­suiv­ant of Arms’.

An im­pos­ing man with a dour wit, he was also a scion of the Drum­mond pri­vate bank­ing fam­ily, and was a gen­er­ous phi­lan­thropist. He died in 2014 aged 84.

Mur­ray’s mother Bar­bara, too, had noble blood. She was the daugh­ter of a baronet, the Con­ser­va­tive MP for Nuneaton Lord Rankeil­lour, who – af­ter the out­break of the Sec­ond World War – was ap­pointed Gov­er­nor of Madras in In­dia.

His par­ents sent Mur­ray to the pri­vate Ro­man Catholic Worth School in Sus­sex, set in 500 acres of coun­try­side, where the fees are £32,000 a year.

One of his con­tem­po­raries at the school was An­tiques Road­show pre­sen­ter Philip Mould. Inevitably, he is to­day im­pla­ca­bly op­posed to pri­vate ed­u­ca­tion – just as his new em­ployer Mr Cor­byn ben­e­fited from go­ing to gram­mar school and now ve­he­mently op­poses gram­mars.

In 1981, Mur­ray mar­ried heiress to mil­lions Su­san Michie, a pro­fes­sor of health psy­chol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Lon­don. The cou­ple had two daughters and a son, but their mar­riage ended in 1997.

His for­mer mother-in-law, the sci­en­tist Dame Anne McLaren, helped de­velop the tech­niques that led to hu­man in-vitro fer­til­i­sa­tion (IVF). When she was killed in a car crash in 2013 with her for­mer hus­band Don­ald, she left £52mil­lion in her will. Her fa­ther was the hered­i­tary Lib­eral peer Lord Aber­con­way.

Mur­ray is now mar­ried to Anna Kruthof­fer, a pri­mary school busi­ness man­ager, and liv­ing in a mod­est house in north Lon­don. But what­ever his gilded fam­ily back­ground, few who know him doubt that he is a ded­i­cated class war­rior.

Mur­ray joined the Com­mu­nist party aged 18, in 1976. Af­ter school, he de­cided on a ca­reer in jour­nal­ism and worked for – where else? – the Soviet-owned Novosti news agency.

He then grad­u­ated to the Morn­ing Star – the house jour­nal of the Bri­tish Com­mu­nist party.

Some of the ar­ti­cles he has writ­ten for blogs have now mys­te­ri­ously dis­ap­peared. But even those that re­main pro­vide a star­tling in­sight into his pol­i­tics.

His views on the Soviet Union are a case in point. In 2003, he ques­tioned why Joseph Stalin – who was re­spon­si­ble for the mur­der of mil­lions of his own peo­ple – had re­ceived such a hard judge­ment from his­to­ri­ans.

Yes, he had used ‘harsh mea­sures’, Mur­ray wrote. But he ques­tioned ‘why hack pro­pa­gan­dists abom­i­nate the name of Stalin beyond all oth­ers.’ In a re­view of a book on Stalin last year, he wrote that ‘Stal­in­ism and Trot­sky­ism ap­pear to be back in vogue.’

MUR­RAY also wrote: ‘We need ur­gently to raise the level of our Lenin­ist ed­u­ca­tion. Ev­ery­thing we are talk­ing about, the im­pe­ri­al­ist cri­sis, in­ter-im­pe­ri­al­ist con­flict, war, po­lit­i­cal strat­egy and tac­tics, are Lenin­ist is­sues. We need to do far more to study Marx­ism-Lenin­ism.’

In another Morn­ing Star ar­ti­cle writ­ten days af­ter the Septem­ber 11 at­tacks in Amer­ica, Mur­ray de­scribed them as ‘land­marks in world his­tory’. He added: ‘Im­pe­ri­al­ism is the ter­ror­ism of the pow­er­ful,

breed­ing night and day the re­venge of the weak.’ In fact, it seems there is no ex­trem­ist Mur­ray – a fan of the for­mer min­ers’ leader Arthur Scargill – is not will­ing to em­brace.

In 2003, writ­ing for a Com­mu­nist party jour­nal, Mur­ray even praised the regime of the late North Korean dic­ta­tor Kim Jong-il.

‘Our party has al­ready made its ba­sic po­si­tion of sol­i­dar­ity with Korea clear,’ he wrote.

Mur­ray has also praised the eco­nomic record of the late Venezue­lan leader Hugo Chavez. In 2007 he said: ‘Venezuela, for the first time in a gen­er­a­tion, there is a govern­ment com­mit­ted to es­tab­lish­ing so­cial­ism.’

Venezuela is now gripped by the spec­tre of hy­per­in­fla­tion which has led to a run on the coun­try’s banks, food short­ages, loot­ing, and a plum­met­ing cur­rency.

In 2006 Mur­ray gave the an­nual ‘Marx ora­tion’ at Karl Marx’s grave in High­gate Ceme­tery, north Lon­don – in which he railed against the ‘world war’ he said was be­ing waged by the West against coun­tries such as Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Syria and North Korea, who were be­ing ‘threat­ened’ by West­ern pow­ers.

In 2010, hav­ing spent sev­eral decades in the trade union move­ment – he was heav­ily in­volved in the Bri­tish Air­ways cabin crew strike in 1997 – Mur­ray be­came Len McCluskey’s chief of staff at Unite and one of the most pow­er­ful fix­ers in the union.

But it was through the hard-Left Stop The War Coali­tion, which is vis­cer­ally op­posed to Israel, that he forged his strong links to Mr Cor­byn. He be­came the first chair­man in 2001, Mr Cor­byn took over in 2011, and he re­placed Cor­byn when he stood down af­ter he be­came Labour leader.

It is a group which rev­els in con­tro­versy. Af­ter the Paris ter­ror at­tacks in 2015, which left 129 dead, Stop The War posted a blog which de­clared Paris had ‘reaped the whirl­wind of West­ern sup­port for ex­trem­ist vi­o­lence in Mid­dle East.’

Af­ter the Char­lie Hebdo ter­ror at­tack, Mur­ray con­demned the at­tack – but de­scribed the ac­tions of the ter­ror­ists as ‘minute com­pared to’ his­toric im­pe­ri­al­ism.

In the last few years, Stop The War has deleted a num­ber of other ar­ti­cles from its web­site. One was ti­tled: ‘Time to go to war with Israel as the only path to peace in the Mid­dle East’ – an ironic head­line, given the pro­fessed aim of the coali­tion.

A close con­fi­dante of Mur­ray’s is Kate Hud­son, the gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Cam­paign for Nu­clear Dis­ar­ma­ment, and fel­low of­fi­cer of Stop The War.

As re­cently as 2009 Hud­son de­clared that ‘the col­lapse of the Soviet Union was a catas­tro­phe for hu­man­ity’. Ms Hud­son, a mem­ber of the Trot­skyite splin­ter group So­cial­ist Ac­tion, is shar­ing an elec­tion plat­form with Mur­ray in Lon­don on Wednesday. What nice com­pany he keeps.

ACLOSE friend of Mr Cor­byn, Mur­ray has been sec­onded to the Labour Party HQ by Unite, which has given more than £10mil­lion to Labour since the last elec­tion. The sec­ond­ment gives Mr McCluskey, one of the few with the power to make or break Cor­byn’s lead­er­ship, a pair of eyes in the Labour leader’s in­ner sanc­tum.

But it will ap­pal moder­ate Labour sup­port­ers. A de­fend­ing Labour MP told me his ap­point­ment was ‘a dec­la­ra­tion of open war on a large part of the party’.

The ap­point­ment may also ex­plain his sur­prise de­ci­sion to quit the Com­mu­nist party in De­cem­ber. As re­cently as the autumn of 2015, af­ter Mr Cor­byn’s lead­er­ship vic­tory, Mur­ray told the The Guardian: ‘All my chil­dren are in the Labour party. All four. One has been in the Labour party a long time. The other three are all there as a re­sult of Jeremy’s surge. But, no, I’m a mem­ber of the Com­mu­nist party. That’s where I am. Com­mu­nism still rep­re­sents in my view a so­ci­ety worth work­ing to­wards, al­beit not by the meth­ods of the 20th cen­tury which have failed.’

His change of heart, how­ever, means that the wi­ley Unite chief Mr McCluskey now has his man firmly on the in­side of the Labour leader’s of­fice.

Mean­while the thought of that pic­ture of Lenin, which would fol­low him to Down­ing Street in the un­likely event Cor­byn wins, would have blue-blood an­ces­tors spin­ning in their graves.

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 ??  ?? Up­per class: An­drew Mur­ray and, in­set, his fa­ther Peter, a de­scen­dant of the Earl of Perth
Up­per class: An­drew Mur­ray and, in­set, his fa­ther Peter, a de­scen­dant of the Earl of Perth

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