“We, in the East, we’ve always been thinking that the whole ‘nomenclatura’ is our problem, this old communist elite sitting tight in high places and not letting anyone in, preserving the position of power, remaining the opinion and decision makers. We thought this was our problem in the sense that it wasn’t possible in the civilised Western societies. And now, as we look at the documents, we suddenly discover that we have the same problem in the West.” Russian dissident Pavel Stroilov met with HotNews.ro in London to discuss about an issue he studies microscopically in this week’s Spectator issue: the KGB infiltration into the Labour Party during the Cold War and its present day reminiscences.
According to Russian dissident Pavel Stroilov, the young researcher who copied precious KGB archive pages from Gorbachev’s Foundation, the British Labour Party used to be full of Soviet agents, secret communists and not very secret communists, dominated by them for long periods of time. “Eventually, the present leaders have, at least, enjoyed patronage of communists or pro-communists in the Labour Party during the Cold War, or were communist themselves. So they are essentially the product of the Soviet infiltration and subversion of the LP. Quite a few of them were communist agents” Stroilov told HotNews.ro.
Labour Party delegations asked the Soviets to help them with elections
Reporter:When did this trend to infiltrate the Labour Party begin?
Pavel Stroilov: If you want a date, it’s 1919. It happened in several lines. One was KGB. Another important one was the Communist Party of Great Britain. It is in open, available and even classical (so to say) literature: Lenin’s Left Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder. There is a chapter about British communists. He refers to the debate which British communists had during the formation of their Party: whether they should try and work inside the LP and try to dominate it or whether they should work outside it. At that time (and in fact, it remained the case for most of the 20th century), the LP was a trade union party and, practically, controlled by its trade unions.
So, Lenin came on the side of those who argued that communist work within trade unions and within the Labour party in order to dominate it. Or at least they should work with the labour party against the more right-wing parties. And so it began to happen. That was the most basic strategy of the communist party of Great Britain ever since: infiltration in trade unions and in the labour party through trade unions.
At that time, the LP was a loose confederation of different organisations, most of them trade unions, but also some socialist societies. There was no individual membership. And the Communist Party was founded by four Marxists organisations. One of them was also affiliated to the Labour Party. That was the very beginning of history of British communists – so the Crypto-communists (as the Cold War term was) were the first-borns compared to open communists. The CPGB was created for infiltration first, and for all the other things – campaigning or whatever – second.
R:Members at two parties, how was that possible?
Pavel Stroilov: At some stage, the Labour Party tried to do something about it. They introduced individual membership and other safeguards, to prevent communists entering the Labour Party. Thus, Labourites ruled that anyone who was a communist was forbidden to represent a union at a Labour Party conference. But in the trade unions, communists could still hold positions.
So, the LP was dominated by trade unions, many of trade unions were controlled but communists and communists, eventually, controlled by Moscow. That was the scheme. I’m not saying that the Labour Party was in Moscow’s pocket. There were a lot of genuine democrats who fought against it and some of them are still there today. But it was a huge, open gate for infiltrantes.
The communists’ whole strategy of coming in power to Britain was strengthening the trade unions’ control over the Labourites, increasing the communist influence over trade unions and eventually the party becoming just a vehicle for the communists to run the country.
The first Labour leader in history with a communist agenda
R:Who accommodated them into the Labour Party?
Pavel Stroilov: There was a big breakthrough in the 70’s when the Labour Party established a special relation with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). The man behind it was Ron Hayward at that time, the general secretary of the Labour Party. Those in charge of it from the Soviet side were the direct successors of the Comintern, the International Department of the Central Committee. And the man in charge of Britain was Anatoly Chernyaev, who – luckily – kept a diary for his whole life, including all the discussions he had with the British Labourites. He records the LP delegations coming repeatedly to Moscow asking the Soviets to help them with elections.
It is apparent from Chernyaev’s diary that Hayward, who had a crucial influence in the 70’s and the early 80’s, was as good as a Soviet agent. I cannot prove that he was KGB, but he was as pro-Soviet as a Soviet agent. He said openly to Chernyaev that he was working to get a socialist government for Great Britain.
What they were trying to do is to get MPs and ministers controlled by the Labour National Committee and the Labour Conference. At that time, both were dominated by the trade unions. It was completely undemocratic. It is clear from Hayward’s conversations with Chernyaev recorded in the diary that he envisaged a real Soviet-style system in Great Britain, with the general secretary of the ruling party of the top. He saw himself as the future dictator of the future Soviet Britain.
There are a couple of points which he accidentally makes, referring to himself as the party leader, for example – although the position of Labour Party’s general secretary is that of just an apparatchik, a servant. And then he says to Chernyaev: “I am the first Labour leader in history who is not afraid to come out on the same platform with communists and with the same agenda”. He says: “As soon as I come to power, I’m going to fire the entire British diplomatic service!”.
R:What was the situation of the Labour Party at that stage?
Pavel Stroilov: They have just come to power. And Hayward was the man who promised to bring Labour under Soviet control and to make communist-style party out of it, controlled by its apparatus, with the general secretary on the top, reporting to Moscow.
Coded messages between the Labour Party and Moscow
R:What would have Moscow gained out of it?
Pavel Stroilov: They would have gained Britain as a country in their empire. It wouldn’t have been that they would join the Warsaw Pact, but what they could easily have done, for example, was to abandon nuclear weapons and leave NATO. The NATO strategy during the Cold War was based on Britain being the unsinkable aircraft carrier. All the American war planes would fly from Britain. It would have been a collapse of NATO. A Labour Government in such a position, tightly controlled by a man and his apparatus could have done it.
R:I don’t see Russia laying down nuclear weapons alongside any other country in the world
Pavel Stroilov: In the early ‘80s there was a huge campaign in the Western world for a unilateral nuclear disarmament. At that time, the communist faction was at the top of the Labour Party – they had had prevailed over all their rivals. (As far as I can see, they are still on the top – a different matter is that the communists have with Gorbachev, and that is how they became “New Labour” now, rather than the old, hard left.
Unilateral disarmament was the official policy of the Labour Party back then. They were campaigning for it very actively. There were demonstrations attended by millions of people all over the Western world, to demand a unilateral disarmament of the West. Now we know that the whole campaign was secretly orchestrated from Moscow. Direct evidence comes from Vladimir Bukovsky’s archive.
In Chernyaev’s diary, there is an entry in 1981: “I had a terrible day. I’m very tired. I have been writing coded messages to the British Communist and Labour parties.” Messages from Moscow to Labour Party? What’s going on? Let’s just say that, at least for some period, they have succeeded in taking over the Labour Party.
R:For how long would you say?
Pavel Stroilov: From the early 80s. It is difficult to tell when it stopped, if it stopped. It definitely remained until the end of the Soviet Union. With the Gorbachev-style communism, the British communists tried to change into more liberal communists. The trade unions and the Labour Party would gradually move into the direction of New Labour. I guess this is why the whole modernisation of the Labour Party came about with Neil Kinnock…
Brown & Blair were backed by pro-communists
R:Can you give us some more pro-Moscow names important for the Labour Party?
Pavel Stroilov: Kinnock is the key figure for today because he was a member of the Labour Party’s pro-communist faction originally, became the Labour leader as the pro-communist candidate, and it was Kinnock who personally selected nearly each of the current leaders of the labour party. Before that, the Labour Party was led by a chap called Michael Foot, who was extremely pro-Soviet and very committed unilateralist. And there are some people in the trade unions.
R:How important were these people and how did they operate?
Pavel Stroilov: We have recently had a disclosure by a famous former MI6 spy in the KGB Oleg Gordievsky. The leader of the Union of Transport and General Workers (TGWU) Jack Jones, who was rated in an opinion poll in the 70s as the most powerful man in the UK, was the leader of the biggest trade union in the country, and a KGB agent. That union was notoriously undemocratic and the general secretary enjoyed almost dictatorial power.
The union’s general secretary had two elected deputies. One of them worked on the industrial side of the activity, it was disorganising the work of the country’s transport and general workers. The other was responsible for the political side of the union’s activities in the Labour Party. On behalf of the TGWU, that man controlled the union’s ‘block vote’ in the Labour Party, counting for 16% of the total, and quite a few parliamentary seats. That position was occupied by one Alec Kitson, and Gordievsky told me he was a KGB agent, too.
We know from authorised and unauthorised biographies that the decision to give Gordon Brown a seat in the Parliament belonged to two men: Communist Hugh Wyper, the regional boss in the trade union, and Alec Kitson. Neil Kinnock, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, Harriet Harman, and quite a lot of people at the very top of the Labour Party. They are all people from Transport and General Worker’s Union (TGWU), and made their political careers thanks to the political backing of that union in making a career. And this political backing was ultimately in the gift of a KGB agent like Alec Kitson. Now, how do you like that?
R:Do you have any information that there are current pro-Moscow Labour leaders?
Pavel Stroilov: It is astonishingly pro-Russia. As we speak, the foreign minister David Milliband went to Russia to extend a hand of friendship, despite the fact that, three years ago, Russia committed an act of aggression against this country. We all know it was the Russian state that did it. There were leaks from the British counter-intelligence confirming it was a state-sponsored operation. The Torries said the same thing openly. The Government did not admit it openly, but they know it as well. Russia committed an act of nuclear terrorism on British territory by assassinating a British citizen on British soil with radioactive material.
I’m talking about my good friend Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with polonium by Russian agents. From the point of view of the international law, that was an act of aggression, so Britain is now at war with Russia. At the time, the Government selected the softest option: they expelled four Russian diplomats. The Russians expelled four British, and that is where it ended. They demanded just one man, the murder suspect, to be extradited to Britain. Of course Moscow refused, and made him an MP and a big hero on television and so on – which was certainly a demonstrative insult to Britain. And now, after waiting for some three years, Britain extends a hand of friendship. How do you describe that? I say they are traitors.
There are a lot of ways to explain their motivation: they need oil, they need gas, they need help with Iran and stability in the world, they think realpolitik is a vote-winner, etc. But apart from all that, I do believe their present treachery has a lot to do with the fact that they have got skeletons in their cupboards in terms of collaborating with Moscow during the Cold War. They are still indebted to the Kremlin for bringing them to power in British Labour Party. In exchange, the owe allegiance to Moscow – and it does seem today that this deal is still on. Once an agent is forever an agent and once a communist, forever communist.