The Mail on Sunday has a story today, which identifies a former Labour parliamentary candidate, and secretary of Labour Action for Peace, Cynthia Roberts, as an agent of the Communist government of Czechoslovakia.
In the five years before she emigrated, Roberts was honorary secretary of Labour Action for Peace (LAP), which was then a highly influential anti-nuclear group. Much of her work was carried out from the House of Commons office of Labour MP William McKelvey, who represented Kilmarnock from 1979 until 1997.
The Left-wing pressure group was founded in 1940 and is still active today, describing itself as ‘an organisation of Labour Party members and supporters working for peace, socialism and disarmament, and seeking to make these issues the forefront of Labour Party policy’.
The documents held by the Czech security service Statni Tajna Bezpecnost (STB) and seen by this newspaper reveal that Roberts apparently boasted of working for the East Germans while based at Westminster, and later was sent on ‘missions’ by her Czech handlers.
About 100 pages of the files still exist, although references within them suggest that a further 600 pages are missing – almost certainly destroyed as communist bosses attempted to cover up details of their activities when the country was swept by democratic change.
But the pages that remain paint a damning picture of her role, which, in the words of her STB handlers, was ‘to contribute towards the downfall of capitalism’.
As far as I can tell, Labour Action for Peace was significantly the base from which spies and sympathisers with some of the most brutal and oppressive Communist regimes in Europe, infiltrated left wing and progressive Parliamentary politics. Here’s Oliver Kamm on the various characters associated with LAP:
[Walter] Wolfgang, I should explain, has a characteristic not mentioned by his new-found admirers in the Conservative press. His peace campaigning has centred not only on Labour CND but also on an organisation called Labour Action for Peace (LAP). LAP for decades operated with a nominally non-Communist leadership but invariably took the Soviet side of every international dispute over foreign policy and nuclear arms. Its reliably pro-Soviet position dates back as far as the 1950s, when Frank Allaun, MP for Salford East from 1955-83, did his utmost to persuade the Labour Party to accept back into membership – and as a parliamentary candidate – the Communist fellow-traveller Konni Zilliacus, an outspoken supporter of the crushing of democracy in Czechoslovakia in 1948. I regret to say that Allaun’s efforts were successful. … Clement Attlee knew the score with these people, and expelled Zilliacus along with other MPs, such as John Platts-Mills, whose support for the ideals of parliamentary democracy was very remote indeed. LAP has remained a forum for the most gullible shills for totalitarianism. Take Stan Newens, former MP for Harlow and then an MEP. He edited a pamphlet entitled Talking with Nicolae Ceausescu, in which it was seriously maintained that the mass murderer believed in “respect for the rights of all peoples to self-determination”.
It should be added that the Labour Party was hardly unaware of the attempts by the Soviet Union and its client states to infiltrate and subvert democratic socialist politics. The fight against the agents and supporters of totalitarianism within the party that I support is a long, honourable and successful one. It mirrors the equally victorious battle, by Conservative Party centrists, against fascists and Nazi afficionados within their own party.
When revelations like these are made, there are always those who grumble and whine about ‘McCarthyism’. However, McCarthyism does not mean unmasking paid agents of unfriendly Communist powers, who are attempting to subvert open, democratic and progressive organisations. McCarthyism means blacklisting and securing the dismissal from their jobs, of individuals who are – or who might be – sympathetic to anti-democratic politics, merely because they hold obnoxious views. The sacking of screenwriters who went to one or two Communist Party meetings was a disgrace. However, campaigning against the re-election of politicial activists who turn out to be spies, and who have lied about or tried to conceal their treachery, is a matter of pride.
Cynthia Roberts is a traitor. She betrayed her party. She betrayed her country. She betrayed the people of Czechoslovakia.
Labour Action for Peace has nothing to say about this at all, of course.