For some time now, the close of the year has seen the release of a selection of government papers from 30 years earlier, but now there is a new system in place that is a bit of a hotch-potch on dates. This can give an insight into some things that are closer to the present, as well as some freshly released much older material.
One thing remains the same, however, namely that there is very little that will prove living members of past governments to be liars, murderers or thieves, because that, unless it was proven at the time, is always left until after the culprits’ death – and, in many cases, is not even revealed then.
This semi-openness by all British governments is supposed to ‘prove’ the democratic nature of British imperialism, which only withholds papers, we are told, in the interests of ‘national security’. Most foreign governments are acutely aware of the doings of our government, either as a result of taking part in whatever nasty little schemes are being carried out, or through being on the receiving end of said schemes. The ones who are really kept in the dark and considered to be a threat to national security, should the truth be generally bandied about, are ordinary workers.
To prove this point, let us look at some of the subjects covered in this year’s bumper bundle of withheld papers: files relating to the Scott inquiry into the ‘Arms to Iraq’ affair; files on allegations of sexual abuse at the Kincora boys’ home in Belfast (the former army information officer Colin Wallace said the abuses were covered up by MI5); and a file on the late Brian Nelson, a British army informer in northern Ireland who was eventually jailed for conspiring to kill catholics. Can any of these subjects really be of use to a foreign power out to destabilise or attack Britain?
Secret service portrayal
Another issue that has been revealed to us from 1980 is that Sir Robert Armstrong, Margaret Thatcher’s principal private secretary, argued that publication of official histories of MI5 “would provide a valuable boost to the morale of present day intelligence staffs”, but at the same time he warned that descriptions of what went on at Camp 020 (the MI5 interrogation centre in Latchmere House, west London) where captured German agents were taken, would have to be “sanitised out”, as the activities carried on there were “sometimes understandably grisly”.
Thatcher disagreed in principle to this publication on the basis that the two volumes (Strategic Deception by the historian Sir Michael Howard and Counter-Intelligence by the former deputy head of MI5, Anthony Simkins “would hand fresh material on a plate to skilled investigative journalists for further exploitation”. It was not until 1990, after a new Official Secrets Act imposed tighter controls over unauthorised disclosures, that those two volumes would be published. An account of Camp 020 was published by the Public Record Office (forerunner of the National Archives) in 2000.
The released files also tell us that both Thatcher and her successor, John Major, were worried about a planned history of the army’s intelligence corps in case it would reveal the dirty tricks that the regiment had been up to in northern Ireland. The ministry of defence told them not to worry as any reference to northern Ireland would be “particularly anodyne”. The army eventually published a five-page history of the intelligence corps with no reference to its grisly and inhuman activities in northern Ireland or anywhere else.
Destroying the evidence
Of course, as the excuse of ‘national security’ wears a bit thin, we also learned in late December 2017 that around 1,000 files relating to the bloodiest periods of Britain’s colonial and imperialist history across the world have ‘disappeared’ while ‘on loan’ to the government.
The ‘empire’ was awash with the blood of hundreds of millions of innocents as mass slaughter and the most horrific tortures took place in the name of the British ‘right’ to rule all and sundry, the ‘right’ to take everything they wanted and inhabit where they would. Now what evidence is left is being destroyed, just as was done in 2014 when the government, having been legally requested to make available information about the CIA’s ‘extraordinary rendition’ programme, claimed it could not do so because the files had suffered ‘water damage’.
Another interesting fact to emerge is evidence of the support that the British state was giving to the Soviet Union in the run-up to its dissolution in the form of food and money (£20m in food aid to Leningrad alone). Yeltsin was in charge at this time, and the strange ‘coup’ of 1991 was taking place.
In the end, the USSR was formally dissolved on Boxing Day 1991 and a mafia sprang up, overnight it would seem, to take over all the former state enterprises and plunge the former USSR and its peoples into one of their darkest periods since the invasion of German fascism. As the USSR broke up and the individual states claimed independence, the vulture-like monster that is British imperialism, along with all the other bloodsuckers, sat gleefully rubbing its hands and dreaming of the huge profits that it would revel in with the death of the Soviet Union.
However, an early indication that these murderous beasts would not have things all their own way was given when the newly independent Baltic states asked for the return of £100m gold bullion that had been deposited in London in 1940, shortly before Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania were freed from German fascism by Soviet troops during the second world war. The gold had been kept ostensibly until these states were once again independent, but, in the meantime, the bullion had been sold by the British government.
It’s the system, stupid
As ever, the released papers remind us to learn the lessons of the past: the bourgeois 0.1 percent of the population who rule this country are represented by all the bourgeois parties in parliament and they therefore win every election, whatever colour rosette the party with most votes happens to be wearing. These parliamentary representatives of imperialism will direct the foreign, domestic and fiscal policies of the country towards the interests of this 0.1 percent and they will tell any lie, sacrifice any number of lives and property and trample the wellbeing of any persons, whether British or foreign, to further the interests of that imperialist elite.
The released papers give us a tiny glimpse of the past activities of the ruling parasites and remind us that what they have done in the past they are also doing now. Moreover, if we allow them to they will carry on doing the same things in the future, too.
We must study to learn, learn to fight and fight for revolution!