Any thoughts?

Any thoughts?

Commentator
Commentator

September 29th, 2016, 8:36 am #1

It would be a pity for this site to die just because it's been infected by a toxic anti-Jewish and anti-CPB troll or two.
The National Archives have released a new batch of MI5 files on E. P. Thompson, Sam Aaronovitch etc. Has anyone read them yet? Anything of interest there?
And a note to the webmaster: you might consider some light-touch censorship to bar posts that contain baseless malicious speculation, personal abuse and anti-Semitism (by which I don't mean views about the Israeli state or government, but the Nazi-style stuff). That kind of rubbish appears to be killing this site.
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White Man in the Hammersmith Palais
White Man in the Hammersmith Palais

September 29th, 2016, 11:50 am #2

I've only had a chance to take a quick scan over the files so far - they are available as images at the moment but they may not always be.

As usual, I was struck by the sheer (pre-Snowden, pre-photocopier) manpower involved in this monumental spying. So, when you see a letter written to E.P. Thompson it's actually been diverted by the Post Office to a special part of a special depot, steamed open, a shorthand record written out of the contents which are then typed up by an army of secretaries, filed and cross referenced by hand and then laboriously indexed. Meanwhile the letter had to be put back together again and rushed back to the post in time.

If you were in the CPGB every letter was being opened, your phone calls were being transcribed, there were bugs, there were informers at every party meeting as well as most TU and solidarity meetings.

I've always had a very sceptical view of 'Spycatcher', assuming that there was as much deception as truth in it. So I was very surprised to read that 'Operation Party Piece' appears to have actually taken place and wasn't a euphemism.
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Guy Burgess
Guy Burgess

September 29th, 2016, 1:52 pm #3

I too have only just started to browse the current documents though I have been following the recent expose of yet another undercover cop, the sort of operation Francis King and Prof Hawthorne would have us believe is largely fairy-tale but is well chronicled on spy-cop sites like the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS):

http://campaignopposingpolicesurveillan ... here-been/

but it is also interesting to note a discussion from 2006 on the role of the secret police and the CIA within the Labour Party which can be read here:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index ... topic=8078

It's particularly interesting given the current effort to remove against Jeremy Corbyn (and the media smears that go with it) though in my opinion the "hidden hand" is divided on this, reflecting the deeper divisions within the ruling class over Brexit.


Guy Burgess
Eton & Campbridge
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 7:50 am

September 29th, 2016, 4:02 pm #4

I certainly do not believe that that stories about undercover cops and surveillance are largely fairy tales - quite the opposite. Back in the 60s I had a girl-friend whose father was a CPGB fulltimer. When she did the Xmas post in her own street, the postman told her that all the letters to her address were opened. There were plenty of stories around at the same time about letters being opened and then put back in the wrong envelopes. And we knew that phones were tapped - you could hear the clicks then. Someone even heard their own voice being played back, I seem to recall. What I do doubt is that the CPB and the NCP are top priority for the security services today. I'm sure the snoopers are swarming around Momentum like bees round honey, and so-called radical Muslim targets are also doubtless high priority.

I have also, I think, said that we should not focus too much on such activities. Just assume that nowadays nothing you say, or write, or so, is secret. That does not, actually, impact too much on campaigning political activity.

Don't attribute views to individuals that they don't hold!
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Francis King
Francis King

September 29th, 2016, 5:18 pm #5

It would be a pity for this site to die just because it's been infected by a toxic anti-Jewish and anti-CPB troll or two.
The National Archives have released a new batch of MI5 files on E. P. Thompson, Sam Aaronovitch etc. Has anyone read them yet? Anything of interest there?
And a note to the webmaster: you might consider some light-touch censorship to bar posts that contain baseless malicious speculation, personal abuse and anti-Semitism (by which I don't mean views about the Israeli state or government, but the Nazi-style stuff). That kind of rubbish appears to be killing this site.
I've just looked through the Aaronovitch and Thompson materials, which were quite interesting - thanks for drawing our attention to them. Two things immediately stand out: 1) the police etc. seem to be casting about for any bit of gossip. It suggests that although they were looking for something, they didn't know what it was. 2) In those two files at least, there is no evidence that I noticed of any police intervention as agents provocateurs or whatever. The police are monitoring, reporting and generally "keeping tabs" on certain individuals, but not, (on the basis of that material) trying to influence the course of events within the CP. Proponents of the secret agent theory of party history won't find much to support their schema in those two files.
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White man in the Hammersmith Palais
White man in the Hammersmith Palais

September 29th, 2016, 9:54 pm #6

You're quite right - police officers were never agents provocateurs - not really their metier. Other agencies got involved in that.
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 7:50 am

September 30th, 2016, 7:52 am #7

I certainly do not believe that that stories about undercover cops and surveillance are largely fairy tales - quite the opposite. Back in the 60s I had a girl-friend whose father was a CPGB fulltimer. When she did the Xmas post in her own street, the postman told her that all the letters to her address were opened. There were plenty of stories around at the same time about letters being opened and then put back in the wrong envelopes. And we knew that phones were tapped - you could hear the clicks then. Someone even heard their own voice being played back, I seem to recall. What I do doubt is that the CPB and the NCP are top priority for the security services today. I'm sure the snoopers are swarming around Momentum like bees round honey, and so-called radical Muslim targets are also doubtless high priority.

I have also, I think, said that we should not focus too much on such activities. Just assume that nowadays nothing you say, or write, or so, is secret. That does not, actually, impact too much on campaigning political activity.

Don't attribute views to individuals that they don't hold!
"say, or write, or so" = "say, or write, or do." I do recall back in the 1990s a member of a trot group arguing that every time lefties used the phone they should use "hot" words that triggered recording devices or whatever, just to overload the system.

Incidentally, the accounts of Stasi produced since the end of the GDR do seem to confirm that too great an obsession with surveillance is self-defeating, in a number of different ways.
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 7:50 am

September 30th, 2016, 8:08 am #8

I too have only just started to browse the current documents though I have been following the recent expose of yet another undercover cop, the sort of operation Francis King and Prof Hawthorne would have us believe is largely fairy-tale but is well chronicled on spy-cop sites like the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS):

http://campaignopposingpolicesurveillan ... here-been/

but it is also interesting to note a discussion from 2006 on the role of the secret police and the CIA within the Labour Party which can be read here:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index ... topic=8078

It's particularly interesting given the current effort to remove against Jeremy Corbyn (and the media smears that go with it) though in my opinion the "hidden hand" is divided on this, reflecting the deeper divisions within the ruling class over Brexit.


Guy Burgess
Eton & Campbridge
A quotation from the first link:

"But in 1968, the Met did something different. The government, having been surprised at the vehemence of a London demonstration against the Vietnam War, decided it had to know more about political activism. The Met were given direct government funding to form a political policing unit, the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS)."

Can anyone remember details of the YCL demo against the Vietnam war in or about 1965? London District organiser Max Egelnick took me along to observe this as the party wanted feedback on what the police did, and there is no doubt that the police displayed considerable brutality against peaceful and well-disciplined demonstrators. Max had put a suit on, and went up to one of the policemen and chatted to him as if he were a chance observer. It's not just the class enemy that can pretend to be what they are not.
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Act of Defiance
Act of Defiance

October 1st, 2016, 9:03 am #9

"It's not just the class enemy that can pretend to be what they are not."

Our Cambridge chums would agree with that! lol
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