A well of poison 3

A diary has been found in the US National Security Archive which reveals details of the relationship between the British Labour Party and the Soviet Union. It was kept by one Anatoly Chernyaev, the man who pandered between the Kremlin and the Labour leaders (particularly Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock). If anyone should know, he should. And it’s quite likely he’s telling the truth, though with such people there can be no certainty, of course.

The diary is making some headlines in Britain, notably in The Spectator, which has made it this week’s cover story, and the Daily Mail.

Among its ‘revelations’ is a story that the Labour leaders tried to get the Soviets to help them beat the ‘common enemy Margaret Thatcher’. The Soviets apparently agreed to help these treacherous men, and maybe they did something or other, but whether they did or not, Mrs Thatcher remained triumphantly in Downing Street throughout the 1980s, to be replaced by another Conservative leader, John Major, in 1990.

The Mail, realizing perhaps that this isn’t much of a revelation, and that as news it is rather stale, does its best to work up something juicier:

More worrying, perhaps, is the fact that the document shows in stark detail how the political ideology of so many of those who govern today was shaped by the unspeakable communist creed of the Soviet Union. The unpalatable truth is that many ministers in Government today rose through the ranks of a British socialist movement that was heavily influenced – and even controlled – by the Kremlin in Moscow. … In Britain, those on the Left who know about the depth of the Soviet influence over this country in the latter half of the 20th century, have maintained an embarrassed silence about this shameful episode in British political history. Above all, the intimate co-operation between Moscow and the trades unions which nearly brought the country to its knees in the Sixties and Seventies has been an utterly taboo subject. … This diary reveals that the cosy relationship between the Kremlin and Labour was far more widespread than previously thought – and had been going on for years. …’

Actually, it was pretty well known that the particular trade union leaders mentioned by the Mail were sponsored by the Soviets. The subject, far from being ‘utterly taboo’ was discussed at length and often in Conservative circles, especially when Prime Minister Thatcher tamed the trade unions good and proper. As for the ‘intimacy’ between the Labour Party rats and the Soviet top brass, such details as the diary records – and only the details are news really, the general picture being well known to anyone who took an interest in such things back then – show the rats in a rather pathetic light. It seems that they had to beg for a few minutes with Brezhnev, and later with ‘the senile’ Chernenko, so they could tell the newspapers back home that they were received by the Man. Hardly a ‘cosy’ relationship!

The Mail tries harder yet:

It is not just the Left’s close connection with the Soviet Union, but the lasting influence of that connection that should concern us all.

By which it means that Gordon Brown, who is still in power though not for much longer, was originally given his safe seat by the decision of two senior trade union officials who were themselves sponsored by the USSR. Thus, urges the Mail, ‘the control the Soviets had over Labour, its leadership and aspiring politicians, is still having a profound impact on Britain.’

Even this, we surmise, will not greatly scandalize or even startle most British readers.

We find one comment interesting. It’s made by Peter Oborne in his Spectator column on the subject. He says that ‘these communist influences’ account for many of the ‘characteristics’ of Tony Blair’s New Labour. The characteristics he notes are:

‘Its deep suspicion of outsiders, its structural hostility to democratic debate, its secrecy, its faith in bureaucracy, embedded preference for striking deals away from the public eye, its ruthless reliance on a small group of trusted activists .’

Why this list strikes us as worth noting is that it applies equally to Obama’s Democratic Party. And the influences are of the same sort, and from the same poison well: not the Kremlin, which was only a conduit, but the Communist creed itself.

  • rogerinflorida

    I can't imagine that this is news to anyone who has any knowledge of British political history. The labour party was conceived as a thoroughly socialist party, as clause IV attests. Although this has been dropped it wasn't dropped for reasons of principle but rather for reasons of electability. The hero worship of the USSR as a “workers paradise” and “saviour” in WW2 is rife in the labour party, and indeed amongst many now who should know better. It was known in 1940 that Stalin was anxious to join the AXIS as he felt that the real enemy was Anglo-American capitalism, the labour party was sympathetic to this. During the post war years the penetration of the british trade union movement by the KGB was an ongoing and very successful project, actually the Scottish TUC was a particularly enthusiastic KGB branch office. Much of the industrial strife of the 60's and 70's can traced to KGB operations. It took Margaret Thatcher to strangle that snake.
    What is more interesting is the absolute lack of a “freedom party” in the UK. As Melanie Phillips recently asked: “Just what is the point of the Conservative Party”. I would ask also what is it exactly that the Conservative Party has conserved?
    I have long felt that the agenda of the tories is to maintain the class system in Britain, this is of course much easier done in a socialist society than in a free society. The last thing the upper class twits of the tory party want is competition, if there were real capitalist competition in Britain the aristocracy now holding wealth and power through social position would have to get up in the morning and go to work, and we can't have that, can we Charles?
    Winston's comment is interesting, anyone who studies US politics will realise that the party of wealth and entrenched power is the Democratic party.
    This wonderful struggle now going on in the Republican party is between the “Rockefeller” wing and the freedom and capitalism loving “hicks” like Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin.
    Interesting times we live in!

    • C. Gee

      Agree by and large, except for your opinion that the Tories are trying to maintain the old class system. I do not think that there is much left of it. The nobs' prestige eroded long before their power privilege ( a seat in the House of Lords) was taken away. The privileged are now the underclass. What the Tories should do, but probably will not, is bring back a meritocracy – which is what allowed a shopkeeper's daughter to become a Tory prime minister. It would mean a thorough overhaul of education which would require removing the entrenched idea that outcomes should be equal. Raise standards, expect to see “classes ” emerge as some do better than others.

  • Sounds like what Ted Kennedy did in 1979 to make Ronald Reagan look bad