How the Kremlin hijacked Labour: Diary of a Kremlin insider reveals the hold Soviets had over Labour politicians
By SUE REID
UPDATED: 01:40, 6 November 2009
The Lancashire blacksmith's son and leader of the Communist Party of Great Britain stood in front of the group of high-flying young Left-wingers at Cambridge University.
Harry Pollitt told them: 'Don't join us. Work hard, get good degrees, join the Establishment and serve our cause from within.'
It was a few years after World War II and they took Pollitt at his word. Within a decade, the Communist Party foundered (its membership peaked at 60,000 in 1945) as Pollitt's bright young devotees infiltrated the Establishment.
East meets West: Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin with British Prime Minister Harold Wilson
They were soon exercising considerable influence in universities, the state education system, publishing houses, the legal hierarchy and the civil service.
But it was in politics that these high-flying members of the Left established their greatest power-base, both in the Labour Party and the trades' union movement.
Hitler, the German football coach and other historical 'facts' according to our schoolchildren
Just how deep the tentacles of communism reached into the heart of British government has now been revealed with the emergence of an extraordinary diary by Anatoly Chernyaev, the Soviet Union's contact man with the West at the icy height of the Cold War.
Meticulously detailed and written by hand on lined notepaper, the diary has come to light in the U.S. National Security Archive.
Michael Foot at the Labour Party headquarters on his first day as leader of the Labour Party in 1980
It tells the story of a 'special relationship' not between Britain and America - but between the British Labour Party and Soviet communists.
It was a relationship that lasted more than 30 years, right up to Margaret Thatcher's arrival as Prime Minister in 1979 and beyond.
Indeed, one of the most shocking of the diary's many revelations is how Labour leaders Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock colluded with the Soviet communists to try to beat their 'common enemy', Margaret Thatcher.
But more worrying, perhaps, is the fact that the document shows in stark detail how the political ideology of so many of those who govern us 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.
Jack Jones before he died in April (left) and at a Labour Party conference (right)
Svetlana Savranskaya, Director of Russia Programmes at the U.S. archive, describes Chernyaev's diary as 'the single most authoritative source on Soviet policy-making in the last 20 years'.
Its explosive contents have only just emerged because the pre-1985 entries remained untranslated until now.
Chernyaev was deputy in the Soviet International Department and later an adviser to President Mikhail Gorbachev. Today, he is 88 and lives in obscurity outside Moscow.
And while many senior members of the Labour Party and union movement will be appalled at his revelations, the old KGB hand himself is delighted his memories are being published.
Transport and General Workers' Union leader Jack Jones - who received effusive praise from Prime Minister Gordon Brown when he died in April this year - was a paid agent for the USSR
Ruefully, he told this week's Spectator magazine, which publishes the diary's contents, that no Russians were interested in his past: 'This great period in the history of our country has been crossed out.'
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.
It is true that tantalising slivers of information have emerged over the years.
As the Mail revealed last month, Transport and General Workers' Union leader Jack Jones - who received effusive praise from Prime Minister Gordon Brown when he died in April this year - was a paid agent for the USSR.
Trade Union leader Jack Jones (right) with his wife and Michael Foot at the Festival Hall. Jones was a paid agent for the USSR
In exchange for information, he used to take cash handouts from his Soviet handler in London, Oleg Gordievsky, even as late as the 1980s.
But 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.
One of the key figures in this murky affair was Ron Hayward, the Labour Party's general secretary between 1972 and 1982, who died in 1996.
He told Chernyaev at meetings in Moscow and London that he was determined to provide a 'genuine socialist government' for Britain.
'To achieve that, he believes he must break the Labour Cabinet,' recorded Chernyaev at the time.
It is clear from the diary that Hayward envisaged a real Soviet-style system in Britain, with the Party General Secretary (ie Hayward himself) - not a Prime Minister selected by MPs - at the very top. He would refer to himself openly as the 'party leader'.
More specifically, he informed the Soviets that he wanted to develop a cadre of young activists to prepare for Communist rule.
Neil Kinnock outside Transport House at the start of his 1987 election campaign
'I am the first Labour leader in British history who is not afraid to come out alongside Communists with the same agenda', he said, boasting that he prepared like-minded young people, put them in the right places and helped them to become prominent.
In 1974, when Harold Wilson was Labour Prime Minister, Hayward smuggled Chernyaev into the heart of the Labour Party conference to try to spread the Kremlin's influence still further.
Some of those in the conference hall recognised the Russian - but did not dare admit it. Chernyaev records in his diary how he and Hayward ran into Edward Short, the Labour Party deputy leader who had been with a Labour delegation to Moscow the year before.
'He stared at us for a moment,' Chernyaev writes in the diary, 'then he pretended he did not see us. That is very English. Apparently, he instantly guessed these were Hayward's games.'
Games, of course, they were not. In those years, the Labour Party was tightly controlled (and largely financed) by its affiliated trades unions, which chose dozens of candidates for safe Labour seats.
And it was in the unions where Chernyaev's International Department aimed to infiltrate the deepest.
Leonid Brezhnev pictured (centre) on the rostrum of the Lenin Mausoleum in Red Square, Moscow in 1972. Foot later referred to him as 'Comrade Brezhnev'
The regular to-ing and fro-ing between union leaders and Moscow was commonplace - even in 1980 after Mrs Thatcher's Tories were in Government.
That year, the diary says, the TGWU's deputy leader Alec Kitson turned up drunkenly at a meeting with Chernyaev in the Russian capital. He had been drinking with his Soviet trade union counterparts for hours beforehand.
'There was a f*** in every sentence that came out of Kitson's mouth,' the diary records.
But when Kitson sobered up, he and Chernyaev concocted a plan to send a team of Russians to the Scottish TUC conference 'to deliver the Soviet point of view'.
They arranged another brainwashing session with union leaders in London. Later in 1980, in Blackpool in October, Chernyaev openly attended a TGWU-sponsored drinks reception on the eve of the Labour Party conference.
The diary says that Jenny Little, then secretary of the international group of the Labour's National Executive Committee, which oversees policy-making, played a pivotal role in Chernyaev's extraordinary access.
It is clear from the diary that Ron Hayward envisaged a real Soviet-style system in Britain, with the Party General Secretary - not a Prime Minister selected by MPs - at the very top. He would refer to himself openly as the 'party leader'
During the 1980 party conference, 'she tried to sit me down next to Jim Callaghan (the former Prime Minister who was then Labour leader), but he bypassed me as if I was a column. She herself was embarrassed'.
Party leaders such as the donkey-jacketed Michael Foot and the Welshman Neil Kinnock were at times deeply reverential to their Russian 'comrades', the diary reveals.
In 1981, Foot led a big delegation to Moscow, to discuss multilateral disarmament with the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. 'Dear Comrade Brezhnev,' Foot said while holding Brezhnev's hand in both his own.
In December 1984, Kinnock went to Moscow accompanied by, among others, the young Charles Clarke and Patricia Hewitt - both to become ministers in Blair's government - to see Brezhnev's successor, the senile Constantin Chernenko.
Chernenko read his brief to them and listened indifferently to Kinnock's verbose response. However, the Russian promised he would help in the Labour Party's attempts to oust Margaret Thatcher from power.
Chernyaev notes that in 1985, Kinnock again turned to Moscow for support, sending a shadow minister to the Kremlin for advice on how to topple Thatcher, who was in her second term in office.
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