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Real Socialism Hits London Streets -- Or MI5 Under Wraps?

Author bio: 
Richard Cottrell

The United Kingdom is run by an aloof pair of ex-Etonian toffs who once belonged to an exclusive Hooray Henry Oxford boozing club renowned for trashing restaurants on gala nights. Between them, the Woosterish David Cameron and his sidekick, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Finknottle Osborne, have an ear for public opinion as finely tuned as a deaf organ grinder. The Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition -- already dubbed The ConDamned by its growing band of critics -- has distinguished itself in less than year by sinking below so recently defeated Labor in the polls. The Lib leader and Deputy PM, the unfortunately named Nick Clegg, is a fully paid-up member of the Drones Club, who has told his staff that he knocks off at three o’clock sharp every afternoon. Most of the time he goes about in a daze, as though in a state of permanent concussion after being knocked down by a rogue London cab. A Cambridge swat, he has never shaken off the label he earned during the election campaign as “the weetabix with a mobile phone”. (The LibDem color is yellow).

As for the prime minister, his pronouncements on every subject under the sun, from Afghanistan to the yobs who have taken over British streets, ring with a deft imbecility which suggests that the re-incarnation of PG Wodehouse really is sitting in some basement of Number Ten Downing Street scratching out his speeches.

As the Good Ship Britannia steams straight for the rocks thanks to the Coalition’s drastic austerity program designed to drag the country out of debt, but already knocking the stuffing out of what remains of the tattered economy, so the Brits are being entertained by the antics of a group of middle class vaguely Marxist-inspired radicals (no-one is quite sure about their pedigree) with an appetite for attacking the symbols of rapacious capitalism. Nor are they the only manifestation of something very peculiar bubbling up from the underground, but more on that in a moment. When I first read about UK Uncut ( inspired by the Coalition‘s death of a thousand cuts inflicted on everything from schools to the armed forces) I was tempted to think in terms of, perhaps, a British take on the US Tea Party.

Then I realized I was missing the more likely progeniture lay with Angry Brigades, the first appearance of urban mainland guerillas (aside from the Irish variety) who made a similar nuisance of themselves between 1970 and 1972. This was the period when another unpopular Tory government, captained by the sad and lonely bachelor Edward Heath, was in similar dire electoral straits. Most of their activities -- soft bombings, more like squibs -- resembled pranks rather than any determined political campaign, although one genuinely committed activist, Stuart Christie, was driven to an attempt on the life of General Franco.

When Heath was hounded from office by striking miners who blacked out the country, and Harold Wilson, the last man truly entitled to call himself a socialist prime minister, came to power, the rash took on a different hue. The press was suddenly full of guerillas armies training in secret forest glades, with mysterious names like Column 99 and such like. The Times wondered if the UK was on the brink of a military putsch. Cecil King, pretentious publisher of the largest-selling tabloid (The Daily Mirror) took the Duke of Edinburgh out for lunch, and calmly inquired if he would mind taking over the country if the army moved in.

I covered many of these events in this very odd period of British history for my TV channel. In one telling interview with a retired general who formed a nationwide Citizens’ Action Committee, he informed me that a ‘secret army’ stood at the ready to prevent the hammer and sickle from flapping over Buckingham Palace. As I explain in my forthcoming book from Progressive Press (details below) he was referring to the British formation of Gladio, although of course no one could possibly know that at the time, apart from certain well-placed insiders. In the course of research for the book, I turned up the important detail that General Walker, on detachment to NATO, had been one of the senior officers responsible for coordinating the activities of the Gladio sleeping soldier psy-ops outfit right across Europe.

These two episodes are instructive because they bear the clear stamp of products of the MI5 psy-ops funny farm. In the case of the Angry Brigades, the strong indications of counterfeit activities and agents provocateur planted in the ranks, the usual just-let-it-happen tricks, is all too plain with the passage of time. Heath was not exactly the flavor of the month with the intelligence services, but they hoped to prop him up until something more acceptable came to hand (Thatcher was eventually beckoned on stage to fill that role). There is nothing like a spot of anarchy to send the masses flocking for cover, the running stripe of Gladio machinations. But on this occasion, the miners’ strike and Heath’s inept bravado in calling early elections, ruined the plot.

When it comes to the much bigger operation, to topple Wilson’s government by innuendo, with the aid of SAS soldiers frolicking in the forests dressed up as proto-Nazis, this was far more sophisticated. Cecil King for instance was an old reliable MI5 hack. Furthermore Wilson had already been denounced by none other than the CIA’s famed Kingfisher James Jesus Angleton as a Soviet agent, but for all the massive eavesdropping and tailing operations which followed, no substantive proof of the charge ever emerged.

Wilson stubbornly stuck it out, and even went around telling people that he was the target of an MI5 stitch-up (indeed, it was code-named Clockwork Orange). Then his sudden and still unexplained resignation, apparently at the height of his powers, on March 16th 1976, shocked the nation. My book suggests a sting which threatened to expose some unpalatable circumstances in his personal life, leading to the loaded pistol in the locked room. The corks certainly popped at MI5 HQ that night.

I have treated my readers to this introduction in order to better appreciate and understand what is happening in a very similar manner in the British Isles right now. Three months ago, London was rocked by the spectacle of the most violent riots since WW2. Ostensibly, these were fuelled by student activists reacting to the enormous hike in university tuition fees imposed by The ConDamned coalition.

But in terms of winning public sympathy, it is hard to see what students had to gain from staging an orgy of destruction, which received due attention from obliging spoon-fed media. For the Coalition, it was something else, a massive shot of adrenalin at precisely the right time to discredit opposition to a deeply unpopular imposition (which is by the way, about using inordinate fees to ration access to higher education).

The London Riots were essentially a black flag operation. Some of the hooded figures seen suspiciously indulging in window smashing and incendiary actions were clearly provocateurs drawn from the ranks of Scotland Yard’s basement psy-ops squads (whose existence surfaced in connection with the shooting on the London tube of the Brazilian electrician Charles de Menezes, on July 22 2005) and of course the intel agencies. In one telling photograph which made many front pages, a careful eye can actually spot the mobile communications rod sticking out from the jacket as its owner demolished a department store window. Of course banks and other such symbols of despicable capitalism got the required attention from ‘anarchists’ who had gone on the rampage with students.

If Middle England, the natural constituency of the Coalition, is naturally appalled by such graphic images, there was worse to come. Prince Charles and his consort, on their way to the theatre in the palace Rolls, were themselves set upon. The Duchess of Cornwall was said to have received the shock of her life when momentarily touched by an assailant. The episode reeks of ‘just let it happen’ taken to cynical extremes.

No attempt was made to divert the royal party from encountering the huge throng which had spread out from Parliament Square, engulfing Regent Street, along which the royal pair were sedately proceeding. Reciting one of its famous cross-my-heart and hope-to-die porkies, Scotland Yard blamed ‘misunderstandings’ caused by officers using non-compatible cell phones. The excuses were irrelevant and quickly forgotten.

The public got the intended message, whether sympathetic to the monarchy or not. Pampered and spoilt adolescents teamed up with violent anarchists were prepared to drag the ageing heir to the throne and his wife, dressed up for an evening out, into the streets and there humiliate them. On the decibel register of public outrage, this is ear-drum popping.

Now the self-proclaimed crusaders against corporate tax evasion calling themselves UK Uncut have appeared on the scene, conveniently just as the Coalition hits a new patch of heavy weather. The background to that:

- Cameron has failed to establish a firm grip on his party less than a year after an election which he anyway failed to win outright.

- The sheer scale of backbench whispering is unprecedented at this stage in the proceedings.

- Thanks to the unpopularity of the Coalition, the Lib Dem junior partner is facing wipe out in the spring local government elections.

- This raises this raises the prospect of Weetabix Clegg being sacked, in which case the remnants of his party will either join Labor or force a new general election.

Viewed from Downing Street, not to say the intelligence services, these are all potential outcomes. Yet as Finknottle Osborne himself so often declares, there is ‘no Plan B’ alternative to the great austerity program. This politically speaking is painting the government into a very tight corner -- unless as Wilkins Micawber earnestly prayed, ‘something turns up.’

Is that ‘something’ UKUncut which so recently burst on the scene, seemingly from nowhere? The writer Nicholas Shaxon gushes that its guiding lights are to be congratulated on creating the most beautiful, well-organized street movement he has ever seen. Do the timing and the brilliance of this phenomenon by any chance make a match?

There is no doubting that tax evasion practiced by the likes of Vodaphone, Boots the giant drugstore company, the Tesco supermarket chain and the various operations of billionaire businessman Sir Philip Green, all targets of UKUncut, grates badly with the electorate. Better than all the books and pamphlets or learned oratory, how clever to ram home the facts about tax larceny with a Moonie like-fervor which cuts across the class structure and political boundaries alike.

Such a manifesto raises important issues. Is UKUncut a brand of the same Chartism which set 18th and 19th century England alight? Or is it grassroots populism which should unnerve the establishment parties. Or even break-out street socialism, taking on the tasks which opposition Labor flinches from. And not least, will the agenda remained firmly fixed on tax dodgers, or spread to wider discontent as the return of recessionary forces begins to bite?

For the moment we are looking at carefully choreographed campaigns of naming and shaming the guilty parties. This after all is the Really Quite Angry But Well Behaved Brigade. Yet there are ominous portents. With their usual inimical grace, the Met have started roughing up and peppering some demonstrators distributing leaflets, which is clearly goading, just as student protestors were earlier incited and goaded.

But the real danger to these just young things is posed from within.

Practically speaking, there is rarely any such event in political terminology as an accidental co-incidence. The entire psy-ops machine, as my Gladio book demonstrates, is predicated on infiltration of convenient protest movements. There is abundant evidence now of undercover agents regularly penetrating animal rights and environmental activist organizations in the UK in order to spy and generally keep tabs, but also to provoke acts guaranteed to bring incriminating discredit.

There are two ways UKUncut came into being: it is either a natural organic reaction against tax avoiders when many thousands are about to lose their jobs thanks to the austerity cuts; or, at least partially, a carefully created designer outfit which, thanks to planted interlopers, will be tugged into the maelstrom of violence as the government’s very future takes centre stage. The name, incidentally, suggests a subliminal impression of 'uncutting' resistance to the austerity program, which is just the sort of insider joke spooks relish.

I have no doubt, let me stress, that by far the majority of UKUncut activists are genuinely motivated by the concerns they express, are firmly non-violent and excited by all the publicity they are getting. And they are unquestionably landing punches in sensitive quarters, popularizing a cause which hitherto had been entirely marginal to the political agenda.

No such organization as this is spared infiltration by the intelligence services. Take that for granted. It can explain incidentally the meticulous planning of the various operations which excites Nicholas Shaxon and others and which are, of course, extremely photogenic. Once the public attention is fully engaged -- and diverted from a real revolution in Egypt -- it is time to move on to the next phase, which all experience suggests will lead to copy cat actions that turn violent. 

This was the standard fare of the hijacked student protests. The riots, and particularly the attack on the royals, served their intended purpose of blunting opposition to the savage hike in university fees which hit, foremost, the Tory and Liberal-voting middle classes. They also saved the Coalition, since the dissenters in the Lib Dem lost any traction they might otherwise have had on the issue.

We are back in the same territory with UKUncut. Clearly the movement is plagiarized from the American Tea Party, with added tints of socialism to suit the different British climate. But the boomerang effect will not be long in coming. Once the citadels of popular capitalism like supermarkets and Regent Street shops are introduced to the rougher edge of protest, then UKUncut will be serving, wittingly or otherwise, its intended purpose, which is Blowback Time.

It is written.
 

Richard Cottrell is a former European MP. He is the author of several books and his next, Gladio: NATO’s Dagger At The Heart of Europe, is a coming attraction from Progressive Press.