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The Atlanticist influences in the British Labour Movement

Some roots of New Labour

Since the World War 2 rescue of the British economy by the United States, there has existed in the British labour movement a tendency loyal to U.S. foreign policy directions, in the same way that the communist parties were seen to be loyal to Soviet interests. While the communists have dwindled to a greatly weakened core, their counterparts have ascended to power.

There would seem to be a clear continuity from the Marshall Plan supporters of the 40s through the CIA involvement with Labour politicians in the 1950s and 60s to the Social Democratic breakaway in the early 80s and on to the New Labour project. Peter Mandelson's grandfather Herbert Morrison was a keen and influential Atlanticist, and Mandelson's attendance of the Bilderberg Conference was certainly in keeping with that family tradition. More politically significant was the place of Roy Jenkins in Tony Blair's circle and the number of Blair's advisors with U.S. university degrees.

The internal history of the Labour Party since 1939 can be seen as a struggle between a range of anti-capitalist and pro-capitalist tendencies, the majority of the latter favouring the "special relationship" with the U.S.A. over a greater entanglement with the European Community. Whether or not the CIA can claim credit for taking "the teeth out of socialism", the capture of the Labour Party by New Labour has seen the completion of the project so keenly funded in the 50s and 60s. Clause Four has gone, Britain is not going to turn anti-nuclear, and the Labour Party is secure in the hands of a pro-capitalist tendency loyal to U.S. power.

This section looks at the background by reproducing material published in 1974 and 1981.

Who were they traveling with : Cover of pamphlet looking at US political influences on the Labour Party

The first documents here come from a 1974 publication by Radical Research Services. The central article is an unpublished Sunday Times report from 1972 "Who were they traveling with?", looking at the entanglement of CIA funded cold war liberalism with the British and European Labour movements in the 1950s and 60s. Other articles examine the circumstances surrounding the shelving of investigative articles by Richard Fletcher in 1967 and 1972, and the launch in 1948 of the European Movement.

The perplexities of moderate men .
How the Sunday Times censored its magazine.
Who were they travelling with?
How the CIA tried to nobble the world
How the European Movement was launched.

Leveller No. 52 cover : The CIA and the Social DemocratsThe more recent article is from the Leveller, an independent radical monthly published in London between 1976 and 1983, (92 issues including the pilot, all in our holdings.)There was an attempt at a relaunch which ended with the publication of a London freesheet - Monochrome. The cartoonist Steve Bell made an early appearance in the Leveller first with one shots and later with his first running strip - Lord God Almighty.

The WCML holds the Leveller photographic archives

The magazine has been criticised for the cover. No direct link between the Social Democrats and the CIA is shown. The link that is shown is cultural and historical, with many names cropping up in the thick of both tales. Later, when the Social Democratic Party formed, one of David Owen's first actions was to report to the Trilateral Commission on the formation of the SDP, another link between the two periods.

An Unholy Alliance

More information on this subject can be found in the Lobster magazine in  particular the special issue The Clandestine Caucus. The Lobster website includes a review, by Tom Easton, of _SDP: The Birth, Life and Death of the Social Democratic Party_ entitled  Who were they travelling with?

For a study of the US state spending on New Labour see Giles Scott Smith's study of declassified State Department files: Searching for the Successor Generation: Public Diplomacy, the US Embassy's International Visitor Program and the Labour Party in the 1980s

Public Information Research Inc. run Namebase, through which references to political figures in different publications can be traced, and Social Network Diagrams which illustrate the links between the individuals.