Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Spectator

An interesting series of articles in The Spectator (7 November issue) which dredge through the back history of the Labour Party, and the attitude of many of its key figures to the Soviet Union during the 'Cold War'. Communist Party influence inside the party is also examined. No real surprises, as most of it was common currency in the mainstream press at the time, although there is some interesting new detail. What has never really been examined, however, is the other tendency within the Labour Party during the Cold War - sometimes called 'Atlanticist' tendency, a faction which owed its greatest loyalty to US Foreign Policy and the military-industrial-political networks spawned by the US.

This rather sprawling and ill-defined faction became the focus of a series of articles commissioned by the Sunday Times in 1972 as part of its series on the 'Unofficial History of the Twentieth Century'. The journalists discovered that "leading Labour politicians had been advising and deriving support from organisations subsequently shown to be set up and financed by the CIA". After the articles were written, expensive artwork was prepared and a final draft submitted to the editor for approval. Although the Sunday Times legal advisers had cleared the text for libel, the editor pulled the plug on publication, commenting "these are the people we support".

The Sunday Times self-censorship was exposed to a wider audience in 1974 with the publication of the articles including some of the prepared artwork in a report by Radical Research Services that looked like a copy of the Sunday Times Magazine. The ink had still not dried when the Sunday Times obtained an injunction to prevent distribution alleging 'breach of copyright' in respect of the art-work used. Luckily a few copies survive.

My guess is that you won't be reading about this in The Spectator, but if you take a look at the Working Class Movement Library website, you can read a more detailed account of the whole affair. Proving once again the importance of independent libraries acting as the 'memory' of the community when a large slice of what really happened is completely written out of mainstream history.

The Working Class Movement Library: