Empire, Commonwealth and security
in Intelligence, security and the Attlee governments, 1945–51
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Chapter Seven explores Government attempts to combat Communist influence in and around Britain’s overseas territories and dependencies and the development of security agencies across the Commonwealth. The Attlee era also saw the development of internal security agencies around the Commonwealth modelled on British lines, resulting from Soviet espionage and American fears that Britain’s allies were far from secure. Responding to American threats to cut-off secret information to Australia, the British government responded by assisting in the development of a new internal security agency, the Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). The chapter looks at the role played by Attlee and others in Commonwealth security liaison and the role of the Commonwealth Security Conferences of 1948 and 1951, highlighting the political dimension of intelligence and security liaison. Using the recently declassified files of the Colonial Information Policy Committee, the chapter assesses British attempts to direct overseas anti-Communist publicity. Chaired by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Commonwealth Relations, Patrick Gordon Walker, the committee was formed in the autumn of 1948. The chapter explores the role of the Committee and IRD in combatting Communism in Britain’s African colonies.

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