Scottish Daily Mail
Hard-Left warrior who hides his blue blooded heritage
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.