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In 1987/8 the Government investigated if Haringey Council was ‘subversive’

In Uncategorized on July 26, 2018 by kmflett

In 1987/8 the Government investigated if Haringey Council was ‘subversive’

A file of 1988 into Subversion in public life was released by the National Archives on 24th July. It is available to download free on-line

Aside from trying to work out how many Communists and Trotskyists there might be in public service (answer, around 30,000 in total) the spooks and snoopers that helped to compile the report also had a delve into local authorities.

The concern, I think, was that the Militant Tendency (as it then was) was in a position to take political control of other local authorities. They investigated (how is not explained but the indication is by asking for anecdotal evidence from Council Chief Executives) 12 local authorities including Haringey, Hackney and Islington.

Haringey had been led by the late Bernie Grant until shortly before he became an MP for Tottenham at the 1987 General Election and current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had been a Labour Councillor in Haringey until 1983 when he was elected MP for Islington North.

When Bernie Grant stepped down as Leader of the Council following his selection as Labour candidate for Tottenham (the existing MP Norman Atkinson was de-selected) Steve King, one of the great Labour beard wearers of the 1980s took over (along with Martha Osamor as deputy) only themselves to be replaced by Toby Harris (another veteran beard wearer, now a Lord) later in 1987.

The report noted of the 12 Councils that the number of subversives was ‘small’

It did however also suggest that:

On some Councils, West Indian, Asian and other Ethnic Councillors have been seen to seek and indeed welcome the support for their ethnic causes of subversives, particularly Trotskyists. But that support appears to have sought for tactical reasons rather than out of sympathy with a subversive ideology.

The report concluded that there had been ‘non-subversive trouble makers’ however

The reader will note a strong element of racism in the spooks report.

How much of it related to Haringey is unclear but it seems clear that the official view was that the Labour Council of Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Grant was certainly not controlled by ‘subversives’ that is primarily in this case members of the Militant Tendency (now the Socialist Party).

That was certainly correct, the MT/SP has never been the dominant left tendency in Haringey (while it certainly did and does exist). Otherwise one is tempted to note of the report’s view ‘do you ever wish you were better informed?’ Except of course in the category’s that Government spooks and snoopers worked to ‘subversives’ were members of left-wing political parties while ‘troublemakers’ who were not and often caused more trouble were just that and had to be lived with.

 

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