Europe,  Labour Party,  Peace,  The Left,  Westminster

A Nest of Lies

The story of When Corbyn Met Sarkocy, a Czech spy, during the Cold War has been seized on with glee by the usual press, plus the anti-Corbynites.  My own thoughts are:- 1) Corbyn was a back-bench MP and unlikely to know anything except the price of a cup of tea in the House of Commons café;  Corbyn, though classic useful idiot material, was useless in this case ; 2) this is reminiscent of a Le Carre novel where a clapped out branch of the security services bigs up a bungled operation with a dodgy agent.

That’s off the top of my head. Paul Anderson, who knew the milieu, has this to say:-

He [Sarkocy, the Czech spy] was employed to take people out to lunch who knew something of what was going on in British politics, drink beers with them in the evening, and write reports on what they told him. And what he got from his efforts was probably little better than any half-compos-mentis reader of the UK press would have gleaned. It was in his interest to exaggerate what his conversations revealed, and he did just that – he had what was in 1980s Prague terms a big-money salary paid in hard currency, with a serious expense account, in a swinging western city.<

Anderson saw these lunches as a chance to glean a little information from behind the Iron Curtain, as well as connecting to those on the Other Side who were both for nuclear disarmament and democracy:-

But getting the odd tip on the biggest news wasn’t my main purpose in meeting Sarkocy. At the time, the Soviet bloc’s suppression of its democratic dissidents was a massive issue – and many of those dissidents were discussing with western peaceniks the possibility of ending Soviet dominance of east-central Europe through a melting of the nuclear confrontation that divided the continent. Moscow wanted west European opposition to American nuclear arms as an issue it controlled through the World Peace Council, based in Prague, which didn’t have a thing to say about Soviet nukes – and it wanted dissident discussion with the western left stopped. END and Tribune were talking to the dissidents, and for us (and them) it was crucial to make sure our engagement with and support for opponents of the regime were conveyed to the Soviet bloc authorities. So I met Sarkocy primarily to complain, time and again, about how his scumbag regime treated its citizens.

He suspects Corbyn would have been a useless idiot at such times – which would follow the pattern:-

I hope Jeremy Corbyn did the same, and I’m told that he took up the cause of Czechoslovak dissident exile supporters of the group Charter 77. But I’m just a bit unsure. Quite a lot of the British left in the 1980s was at best completely clueless about – and at worst subsidised by – the disaster for socialism that was the USSR. Quite a few of Sarkocy’s contacts were idiots who thought Charter 77 were counterrevolutionaries and everything was cool about the Soviet Union – because it was anti-imperialist. Labour Action for Peace, a pressure group that had no formal role in the Labour Party, and for which Corbyn was an officer, was notoriously and idiotically pro-Soviet.

I was part of the CND movement in the 1980s and do remember the foolish pro Soviets and the END, and that account sounds convincing to me.  It also reminds me yet again how humiliating it is to have a clueless 80s throwback as Leader of the Opposition.

Update:This has been such an own goal for the Tories.

Labour said Bradley would tweet the following apology: “On 19 February 2018 I made a seriously defamatory statement on my Twitter account, ‘Ben Bradley MP (bbradleymp)’, about Jeremy Corbyn, alleging he sold British secrets to communist spies. I have since deleted the defamatory tweet. I have agreed to pay an undisclosed substantial sum of money to a charity of his choice, and I will also pay his legal costs.

“I fully accept that my statement was wholly untrue and false. I accept that I caused distress and upset to Jeremy Corbyn by my untrue and false allegations, suggesting he had betrayed his country by collaborating with foreign spies.

“I am very sorry for publishing this untrue and false statement and I have no hesitation in offering my unreserved and unconditional apology to Jeremy Corbyn for the distress I have caused him.”

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