log in

  • Published in Opinion
Jeremy Corbyn speaking at '15 Years On: Time To Stop The War', October 2016. Photo: Jim Aindow

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at '15 Years On: Time To Stop The War', October 2016. Photo: Jim Aindow

History shows that the deep state will always mobilise all its resources against even a relatively moderate left-reformist like Corbyn

In light of the recent rehash of old allegations against the late Labour Party leader, Michael Foot (that he was a Soviet spy), it is perhaps worth looking at the so-called security services’ efforts to surveil, intimidate, and disrupt the activities of the left wing of the Labour Party, particularly where its current leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is concerned.

The security services mentioned in this article include Special Branch, MI5, and MI6. But they also include those in the USA, particularly the CIA. The late Labour PM, Harold Wilson, was accused of being both paranoid and senile for believing that MI5 were plotting against him. But the evidence shows that MI5 did open a file on Wilson while he was still an MP.

The CIA vs. Corbyn

A now-declassified CIA report dated May 1983, when Foot was leader of Labour, cites the Party’s then-commitment to trade “protectionism,” withdrawal from the European Economic Community (later EU), and even the dismantling of Trident. Consequently, “a majority government headed by Labor [sic] would pose the most serious threat to US interests.” The Labour Party “roundly criticizes US policy in the Third World, particularly in Latin America, and calls for ... improv[ing] relations with other socialist regimes.”

A year later, Corbyn had come to the attention of the CIA as a Labour MP (for Islington North). He was critical of the US invasion of Grenada, which had taken place in the previous year. In 1979, says the Spectator, Corbyn “went to Grenada with dignitaries of the Islington race relations and  feminist industry, to see and admire the Revo[lution].” Corbyn participated in a fact-finding mission, which claimed that most Grenadian working class people supported the revolution. In 1983, the US invaded to restore a political system favourable to its elite interests. A year later, the CIA noted the publication of a book written about the revolution in which, it says, the findings of Corbyn are quoted.

Keeping in mind the CIA’s concerns over anti-US foreign policy within the Labour Party, particularly with regards to the former’s Latin America policy, another CIA report from 1986 notes Corbyn’s support for the Salvadorian union, FENASTRAS. Notably, Corbyn’s name is mentioned explicitly, compared to foreign “union members” who are not named.

At this point, the CIA record on Corbyn dries up, so we’ll have to wait until more files are opened. Let’s now turn to the UK.

MI5 vs. Corbyn and Labour

After World War 2, many Labour MPs, including the anti-“communist” PM Clement Attlee, helped to expand MI5. One of the consequences was that MI5 used its expanded resources to spy on and infiltrate so-called far-left groups, including many which joined the Labour Party throughout the 1960s and ‘80s—the so-called “entryists.”

Labour MPs John Stonehouse, Bernard Floud, and Will Owen were spied on by MI5 from

the 1960s-80s. MI5 spied on Joan Ruddock MP in the 1980s, supposedly due to her work with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. MI5 also spied on Dave Nellist MP, supposedly on account of his association with the “hard left” group, Militant.

Ex-MI5 director Stella Rimington claimed that Corbyn’s now advisors were also monitored by MI5 for being “communists” in the 1980s (when Rimington was part of an MI5 unit targeting miners and unions). Rimington refused to specify but claimed that many are now part of Momentum. The Daily Mail which reported on Rimington’s comments speculates that Jon Lansman, Andrew Murray, and Seamus Milne were the likely targets.

Then-Labour MP Ken Livingstone claims that the French court case concerning the extradition of MI5 whistle-blower-turned-delusionist, David Shayler, revealed that MI5 kept a file on Livingstone because of his association with the Northern Ireland republican party, Sinn Féin. Livingstone also claims that when he became PM, MI5 handed their file on him to Tony Blair.

As for Corbyn, a source told the Telegraph that in the early-1990s, MI5 opened a file on him, again allegedly due to his associations with Sinn Féin.

Special Branch vs. Corbyn and Labour

From 1990 to 2001, one Peter Francis worked undercover for Special Branch. Francis blew the whistle and exposed Special Branch’s surveilling of numerous Labour MPs in the 1990s.

“Francis saw a special branch file on not only me,” said Peter Hain MP, but on other Labour MPs and Cabinet Ministers, including Corbyn, Diane Abbott, Tony Benn, Bernie Grant, Harriet Harman, Ken Livingstone, Joan Ruddock, Dennis Skinner, and Jack Straw. Hain said that Special Branch

had a file on people like me, dating back 40 years to anti-apartheid and Anti-Nazi League activist days, because we were seen through a cold war prism as ‘subversive’. Even though we vigorously opposed Stalinism, that did not stop us being lumped together with Moscow sympathisers.

Corbyn said:

I was put under surveillance for a long time because I campaigned on human rights issues and was involved in justice campaigns ... I want to know who ordered the spying higher up, and whether there was any co-operation between the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and MI5.

Known as “the hairies” because of their long hair and beards, the SDS was established in the 1960s to infiltrate and subvert the counterculture. The SDS operated well into the ‘90s, spying on the Lawrence family, and others, following the murder of Stephen.

Undercover officer, Peter Francis, worked for Bob Lambert, the same undercover operative later exposed as an informant and provocateur who targeted numerous social justice groups. Corbyn told the Islington Tribune (3 April 2015, dead link):

I worked with Bob Lambert [still undercover] around Finsbury Park Mosque, he was good in that [counter-extremism] role. Later I was interested in his book at the time and I was involved in the launch. But for all I know he could have had me under surveillance.

The Ministry of Defence vs. Corbyn

A senior Ministry of Defence general, who reportedly served in Northern Ireland, told the Sunday Times in 2015: “The Army just wouldn’t stand for it,” namely Corbyn becoming PM, shrinking the MoD, withdrawing from NATO, and dismantling Trident.

The general staff would not allowe a prime minister to jeopardise the security of this country and I think people would use whatever means possible, fair or foul to prevent that. You can’t put a maverick in charge of a country’s security.

In February 2017, allegations were made that Corbyn was spying on Thatcher for Soviet Czechoslovakia in 1986. The Czech STB intelligence archives were examined and the allegations debunked. Former MI6 head, Richard Dearlove, claimed: “discussions I have had with friends close to the current Czech intelligence community [suggest otherwise],” that Corbyn did have connections. No evidence was provided.

In June, following the Tories’ loss of their Parliamentary majority, Dearlove wrote:

no one has stood up and said, unambiguously, how profoundly dangerous it would be for the nation if Jeremy Corbyn becomes Prime Minister. So let me be clear, the leader of the Labour Party is an old-fashioned international socialist who has forged links with those quite ready to use terror when they haven’t got their way: the IRA, Hizbollah, Hamas. As a result he is completely unfit to govern and Britain would be less safe with him in No 10.

The USA vs. Corbyn

It was revealed that in 2009, future Labour MP Ruth Smeeth was informing on the Party to individuals associated with the US National Security Council. As a source, Smeeth is designated “strictly protect” in the leaked cables. The information she was passing on  concerned the prospects for Labour success in the general election under PM Gordon Brown. Smeeth says she can’t remember being an informant. Having taken money from Israeli groups, Smeeth as MP later joined the chorus of accusations of anti-Semitism in the Corbyn-led Labour Party.

With Ed Miliband leading Labour, a secret Congressional Research Service memo concerning the approaching May 2015 general election, read: “A significant degree of the UK’s international influence flows from the success and dynamism of the British economy, further raising the stakes on whether the UK can sustain stronger economic growth while continuing to pursue ambitious fiscal consolidation.” “Dynamism” means maintaining London as the money laundering capital of the world. The Daily Mail, which picked up the story, comments that the memo “states that the UK’s continued importance to the US will hinge on the future success of the economy – and Chancellor George Osborne’s implementation of spending cuts,” meaning crippling austerity.

The implication is that any leftward drift could affect US-UK trade and investment relations.

In October 2015 at a private fundraiser, ex-US President Bill Clinton said that after Tory PM Cameron “thumped” Miliband in the election, Labour “reached the interesting conclusion that they lost because they hadn’t moved far left enough” (which was not true. It was the grassroots, mainly Momentum, that pushed the Party further left, not the Party managers). Clinton adds: “so they went out and practically got a guy off the street,” meaning Corbyn. Implicitly, Clinton likened Corbyn to Trump, saying that British people were so disaffected by the government’s economic policy “they just want the maddest person in the room.” By implication, a Corbyn government could hurt US-British political relations.  

Given the failure of the Tories in the 2017 snap election, the US Congressional  Research Service, which authored the secret memo above, took the unusual step of updating its public information about the UK, America’s closest ally. “Unusual” because US-British relations had, until Corbyn and the Leave result in the Brexit referendum, been predictable (meaning that Britain acquiesces in US demands).

The report says: “Having implemented an overarching program of domestic spending cuts, the Conservative Party also faces growing calls for a new definition of what it stands for in order to counter voters’ receptiveness to the anti-austerity messages of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.” It continues: “The Labour Party was relatively effective in focusing on concerns about proposed Conservative social and economic policies, to the extent that some voters seemingly overcame previous doubts about Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, often derided as radically left-wing.” As the CIA report quoted at the beginning of this article confirms, “radically left-wing” groups concern the US establishment.

Conclusion

The deep state represents elite interests and, as a consequence, tries to subvert democracy. Those within it believe the opposite: that members of the public who advocate direct democracy and social freedom are subversive. The deep state also believes that left (e.g., Corbyn) and even not-so-left (e.g., Jack Straw) politicians are potential threats to their class interests.

Corbyn continues to withstand the psychological strain of relentless smears and character assassination. While we might not agree with every Corbyn move, policy, or reaction, we can perhaps take comfort in the fact that the top-down panic over the prospect of a government that is not even “radical” in any real sense of the word, has triggered terror and hysteria among the privileged.

A Corbyn government is not the answer to our problems, but it could be a serious first step toward a “better Britain” (to quote PM Theresa May) and at least an easing of the barbaric attacks by the Tories and “centrists” against the most vulnerable. 

T.J. Coles is a postdoctoral researcher at Plymouth University’s Cognition Institute. His books include Human Wrongs (iff Books) and Britain’s Secret Wars (Clairview).

Tagged under: Labour State Jeremy Corbyn
T. J. Coles

T. J. Coles

T.J. Coles is a postdoctoral researcher at Plymouth University’s Cognition Institute and the author of several books, including The Great Brexit Swindle (2016, Clairview Books) and Human Wrongs: British Social Policy and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (2018, iff Books). His latest is Real Fake News (2018, Red Pill Press).

BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS

Help boost radical media and socialist organisation

Join Counterfire today

Join Now