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An uneasy relationship?

Drawing extensively on recently released documents and private papers, this is the first extensive book-length study to examine the intimate relationship between the Attlee government and Britain’s intelligence and security services. Often praised for the formation of the modern-day ‘welfare state’, Attlee’s government also played a significant, if little understood, role in combatting communism at home and overseas, often in the face of vocal, sustained, opposition from their own backbenches. Beneath Attlee’s calm exterior lay a dedicated, if at times cautious, Cold War warrior, dedicated to combatting communism at home and overseas. This study tells the story of Attlee’s Cold War. At home, the Labour government implemented vetting to protect Whitehall and other areas of the Cold War state from communists, while, overseas, Attlee and his Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin authorised a series of highly secret special operations in Eastern Europe, designed to erode Soviet influence, told here for the first time in significant detail. More widely, Ministers also strengthened Imperial and Commonwealth security and, responding to a series of embarrassing spy scandals, tried to revive Britain’s vital nuclear transatlantic ‘special relationship’ with Washington. This study is essential reading for anyone interested in the Labour Party, intelligence, security and Britain’s foreign and defence policy at the start of the Cold War.

Banning the ‘five techniques’

The use of the ‘five techniques’ in Northern Ireland in August and October 1971 was met with a variety of responses and reactions. These are the subject of this and the following chapter. The present chapter focuses on the government’s responses to the use of the techniques and, more specifically, its responses to the criticisms the techniques were met with. Its starting

in Interrogation, intelligence and security

In the imperial sphere, the Labour government pursued a policy of ‘conservatism decked out to appear … progressive’. 2 Retreat from the Indian subcontinent led to renewed attempts to preserve British influence throughout the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa as ministers and officials attempted to redevelop the Empire along new lines. While numerous studies have focused on colonial development and

in Intelligence, security and the Attlee governments, 1945–51
Labour and intelligence during the Second World War

political reliability. 1 Hugh Dalton, 2 July 1940 This chapter will illustrate how the Labour leadership’s involvement with the wartime Churchill government brought ministers into the world of intelligence and security, an area previously overlooked by academics looking at this period. 2 From the summer of 1940

in Intelligence, security and the Attlee governments, 1945–51
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Labour ministers, vetting and subversion

without a murmur. They have in fact surrendered their liberty. 2 Clement Attlee, January 1940 Despite their involvement in the wartime coalition government, it has been argued that the Labour leadership were suspicious of the Security Service when they entered office in the summer of 1945. In fact, rather than viewing the Service

in Intelligence, security and the Attlee governments, 1945–51
Ministers, atomic espionage and Anglo-American relations

political capital out of it [and] some are calling for a witch hunt. 2 Kenneth Younger, 1951 The Anglo-American ‘special relationship’ was an important dimension of Attlee’s foreign and defence policy. Stemming from wartime collaboration, relations with Washington were fraught and served to provide the Labour government with

in Intelligence, security and the Attlee governments, 1945–51

Introduction Up to this point we have concentrated on perceptions of security threats, the influences upon them, and the kinds of attitudes and behaviour they, in turn, appear to influence. What has been missing is the role of government, in advising citizens as to what their role could or should be in identifying and managing security threats, in building the shared

in Everyday security threats
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Intelligence and the Labour governments, 1945–51

This book has explored the attitude of the Attlee governments towards intelligence and security, both at home and overseas. It has shown that, contrary to existing views of the relationship, ministers enjoyed what could be described as an excellent working relationship with the intelligence community, using it to combat Soviet and communist activities at home, throughout

in Intelligence, security and the Attlee governments, 1945–51
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’? The phrase ‘the missing dimension’ has become something of a cliché often used to contextualise research into the history of British intelligence. 4 Yet in the case of Clement Attlee and his Labour government, the description is an accurate one that provides a useful starting point. Any reference to intelligence between 1945 and 1951 tends to be predicated upon negative assumptions surrounding the

in Intelligence, security and the Attlee governments, 1945–51
Propaganda and subversion, 1945–48

The fast increasing threat to western civilisation which Soviet expansion represents impels me once again to examine the extent to which the Soviet Government appear to be achieving their aims, together with the steps we should now take in order to frustrate them. 2 Ernest Bevin, 3 March 1948 While the Attlee

in Intelligence, security and the Attlee governments, 1945–51