Historian speaks about possibility of ‘deep state’ involvement in anti-Corbyn campaign

Jeremy Corbyn

As leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn has survived internal coup attempts, possible “wipeout” in a general election, multiple smear campaigns, and a deeply hostile media environment. But is the leader of the opposition also weathering a more secretive storm?

The Canary spoke with historian and foreign policy analyst Mark Curtis about the possible involvement of the ‘deep state’ (secretive elements of the government) in efforts to prevent a Corbyn-led government.

Historic precedent

There is, in fact, quite important historical precedent to consider in terms of “security” services colluding against left-wing UK governments.

In 1924, for example, an MI6 agent forged the “Zinoviev letter“. This claimed that the Soviet Union had subverted the British Labour Party. The letter was leaked to the Daily Mail, which began publishing articles on it just four days before a general election. Headlines including Civil War Plot by Socialists’ Masters: Moscow Orders To Our Reds; Great Plot Disclosed led to the crushing of Britain’s first ever Labour government at the polls.

More recently, Harold Wilson – the longest-serving Labour prime minister in the 20th century (1964-70 and 1974-6) – seemed to fall foul of elite expectations of a British government. According to an explosive book by former MI5 officer Peter Wright named Spycatcher, Wilson was targeted with a:

protracted, illegal campaign of destabilisation by a rogue element in the security services… They tried to pin all kinds of nonsense on him: that his devoted public secretary, Marcia Williams, posed a threat to national security; that he was a closet IRA sympathiser.

Déjà vu

The smear campaigns used against past Labour leaders – disputing their loyalty while suggesting they threaten national security – look starkly similar to those waged today.

Read on...

Corbyn has been accused of being a Czech spy; of being a friend of terrorists; of wanting to abolish the army; of antisemitism; and even of not supporting the England football team.

The Canary asked Mark Curtis whether we should be concerned about ‘deep state’ involvement in current efforts to prevent a Corbyn government. He responded:

We should definitely be concerned about possible deep state involvement in preventing a Corbyn government. The UK ‘security’ services operate substantially outside of democratic oversight and have a record of challenging popular responses to insidious state policies such as spying on individuals, NGOs or campaign groups.
As Privacy International wrote in 2018, for instance, UK “police infiltrated 124 left-wing activist groups [between] 1970 and 2007″. Some of the undercover officers began sexual relations with activists. Curtis continued:
It’s a great myth to believe that the state promotes national interests; rather it tends to defend narrow elite and corporate interests. This is something that comes through clearly in the declassified government files – popular policies are seen as threats to be countered.
Military apparatus

As Curtis explains in Middle East Eye, Corbyn’s foreign policy poses a credible threat to elite interests. He supports the Chagos islanders‘ right to return home; would recognise a Palestinian state; would pursue legal accountability for the invasion of Iraq; and “would be the first anti-imperialist to win power in a major Western country”.

This, it seems, has won him few friends within the UK military apparatus. Indeed, some of the aforementioned smear campaigns have been promoted by a shady UK Foreign Office-funded organisation named the Integrity Initiative. Many of the journalists named within the Integrity Initiative documents, moreover, have smeared Corbyn.

In 2015, a “senior serving general” told the Sunday Times that Corbyn would face “a mutiny” if he became prime minister. And in 2018, former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove told Sky News that he was “troubled by Jeremy Corbyn’s past associations”.

Perhaps most worryingly is that the anti-Corbyn project appears to be Transatlantic. As US secretary of state Mike Pompeo recently claimed, the US “won’t wait for [Corbyn]” to get into power before seeking to undermine him. Pompeo’s use of wording, “run the gauntlet and get elected” for example, suggested that actions are already underway. Indeed, it would seem naive to think the UK immune to Washington’s global anti-socialist campaign.

“Remarkably moderate”

Though Wilson’s Labour governments were by no means anti-imperialist (it was Wilson who first expelled the Chagos islanders from their homeland), Wilson nonetheless faced pressure from areas of the deep state. In this context, The Canary asked Curtis how radical Corbyn’s project is. He said:

The amazing thing is that Corbyn’s agenda, while a real challenge to Whitehall, is remarkably moderate. Most of the world recognises Palestine as a state and considers it abnormal to invade other countries. But even this is unacceptable to a British elite that is truly extreme, schooled in centuries of imperialism, and which believes it has special rights to act in ways forbidden to other states. The fact that it is Corbyn who is the moderate is surely obvious to most people outside media newsrooms – which is why the state is so afraid and why the media has had to go to such extraordinary lengths to concoct preposterous smears.

The closer Corbyn gets to power, the more vicious the campaign to topple him will become. At this critical juncture, it’s vital to consider Curtis’s words.

Featured image via Sophie Brown/WikiCommons

Get involved

  • Check out Mark Curtis’ website and list of books here.

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. Well well well I’d have never thought that !! our very own dear protector State undermining our democracy ,, oh dear dear me . Perhaps that kind and thoughtful man Jeremy Corbyn can sort those shitehawks out !!
      Come on JC and Labour this country needs you more now then it ever will know , stuff the BULLSHIT A.S crap and keep going don’t quit , too much now depends on getting to Number 10 and you can bet your LIFE that the “Establishment” will in the coming months really put the boot in ,, fuck em , let em meet a brick wall of resistance

    2. Archie, well said. It’s thanks to the likes of the Canary and RT UK that there is any truth being told other than the Government’s propaganda machine, the MSM.

      I would like to see the British People get out there like the French and take up serious demonstrations against this corrupt, thieving, lying incompetent Government and stop buying newspapers.

      I am sure the EHCR is being leant on very heavily by the security services I hope they have the courage not to cave I n.

      As Orwell said, in times of universal deceit telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. We are in Orwellian Totalitarian State territory right now.

    3. Excellent summnation John McEvoy of the deep state’s willingness to subvert democracy, and so reassuring to hear John Curtis recount previous incidents in history reflecting this attack upon the “left”. I see our humanty’s desire to envision an advanced social way threatened by deep state organizations like Integrity Intiative.
      Its why Chris Williamson has been singled out over this antisemantic campaign of delusion for the social mass.
      I think this is their tool of choice to upend the well meaning people in the Labour Party, and the US spooks of Pompeo have to be actively assisting in this as well.
      Certainly is smelly behing the Spook Curtain. Its like finding a dead mouse in the pantry.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.