Establishment won’t destabilise a Corbyn government says author of “A Very British Coup”

chris mullin

Chris Mullin, author Pic credit: Twitter


Chris Mullin, the former Labour minister and MP, last night told an audience of MPs and peers that he did not believe that the Establishment would seek to undermine a future Labour government  led by ” saintly” Jeremy Corbyn .

His  riposte came a month after Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, expressed worries that Corbyn had not ditched his left wing views, had met people who were not friends of Britain and said he was worried about him becoming PM. The charge has been made also by Sajid Javid, the home secretary who describes Jeremy Corbyn as ” a threat to our national security.”

Chris Mullin was giving a talk as part of John Bercow’s Speaker’s Lectures series  after the publication of his autobiography Hinterland, which describes his life as a war  journalist. Mp and minister and a chair of the influential home affairs committee.

He is most famous for his novel written in 1982 ” A Very British Coup” which became a BBC TV series describing how a left wing Labour MP with strong views on disarmament and an ally of the trade unions wins a general election with a landslide victory only to be undermined by the security services, the Establishment and the Murdoch Empire.

Although written some 33 years before the sudden rise of Jeremy Corbyn the novel is now seen as prescient of events that did change the direction of the Labour Party. At the time it was written Tony Benn not Jeremy Corbyn was seen as the great danger.

But despite the novel’s gloomy prognosis Mr Mullin does not see this happening should Jeremy Corbyn win the next election.

” I think MI5 has been cleaned up  in the last 30 years “, he said. He was not so certain about MI6 after the comments of Sir Richard Dearlove.

Mr Mullin himself was branded as part of the ” loony left ” by the right wing media particularly as he championed the cause of the  six Birmingham bombers who  were found guilty of blowing up two pubs killing 21 people and injuring 182 others but had their convictions quashed 16 years later. This was one of the greatest miscarriages of justice.

He disclosed that although he was on the left of the party he had not voted for him as party leader as he did not agree with all his policies. He described Jeremy as a ” saintly person” who  has always stood by his beliefs.

He also had a surprise for his audience. He is a writing a sequel  to A very British Coup which covers the current Brexit crisis. It is to be published on March 29 next year – the day Britain is due to leave the European Union.



Have the security services succeeded in censoring the MPs report on the murder of Lee Rigby?

Lee Rigby; Pic courtesy of AP Press

Lee Rigby;
Pic courtesy of AP Press

Very shortly before Parliament rises for the recess the newly strengthened Intelligence and Security Committee will produce their report on the circumstances that led to the atrocious murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich.

This report is very significant because it is the first to be completed where the MPs have had the powers to compel MI5 and MI6 to release all their information on the case.

Therefore it is not surprising as I have reported in Exaro  that the security services have hit back and  made robust demands for  redactions in what the MPs might have to say about their conduct.

We should be able to see how successful they have been if the report acknowledges where there have been redactions.

The soldier, a drummer in the Royal Fusiliers, was hacked to death in May last year in Woolwich, south-east London as he returned to his barracks. His killers, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, are understood to have been known to MI5 for several years.

Adebolajo’s relatives say that MI5 had even approached him in 2011 to become an agent after he was deported from Kenya. He is said to have rejected the approach.

I understand the row between the intelligence officials and parliamentarians is understood to centre on UK’s intelligence operations in Kenya. The officials say that the report contains too much detail of these operations.

What alarms me is that security services appear to be involved in a spin operation in the  mainstream media to cover up their failings by demanding new extra powers and even emergency legislation to allow them to read anyone’s website on the back of any informed criticism of their actions

Let me make it clear to any bored  security operative who might be reading this blog that I have not seen or read a word of the MPs report. But I am aware that there is a fierce battle going on- and while I respect the role of the security services in fighting terrorism to keep us safe – I don’t want to see a blanket removal of our civil liberties or our right to privacy.


Lee Rigby atrocity: The acid test facing the MPs who hold the security services to account

Lee Rigby; Pic courtesy of AP Press

Lee Rigby;
Pic courtesy of AP Press

Britain’s only body that holds MI5 and MI6 to account is soon to produce a report on one of the most savage terrorist killings in this country – the hacking to death on the streets of Woolwich in south London of drummer Lee Rigby.

I am told that the security services have had to hand over highly sensitive material to Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee about the security services knowledge of his killers as changes in the law last year stopped our spies duping the committee by pretending they don’t have it. This duplicity came to light after the inquiry by Sir Peter Gibson  Dame Janet Paraskeva and Peter Riddell, a very through journalist, discovered information on the treatment of detainees  who are alleged to have been tortured abroad which had been withheld from MPs on the committee.

His report is here .

The committee has had a very bad press and been attacked by MPs on the Commons home affairs committee. In a report on counter terrorism published at the end of April, the committee was scathing about its role.

It said; ”  We do not believe the current system of oversight is effective and we have concerns that the weak nature of that system has an impact upon the credibility of the agencies accountability, and to the credibility of Parliament itself. The scrutiny of the work of the security and intelligence agencies should be not the exclusive preserve of the Intelligence and Security Committee. ”

There have been some key reforms. As I reported in an article on Exaro   the committee has both new powers and new resources. What I am questioning is whether they will use them so the public have the unvarnished truth.

As well as the power to compel the security services to hand over information, the committee, in an age of austerity, has seen its budget nearly doubled from about £750,000 to £1.3m after a Parliamentary debate  (contribution by Julian Lewis MP)  revealed it was the worst funded scrutiny committee of the security services in the western world. This has enabled the committee, I am told, to employ competent ex spies to quiz existing spies, to avoid cover ups. Credit should be given to former Tory Cabinet minister, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the chairman, for pushing for these changes.

This means that the inquiry into the Lee Rigby atrocity will be the first to be properly funded and with new powers to get to to the truth. There still is a  long stop which enables David Cameron, who appointed all existing members (though this will change), to censor part of its report if he wanted to. We will have to hope there is no self  censorship before it reaches him.

What is disturbing is that there are already signs that the security services – mindful that they might be trashed for failing to keep full tabs on Rigby’s killers- are  briefing the mainstream media as part of a damage limitation exercise. A recent article in the Sunday Times  where their solution was to demand even more intrusive monitoring of the internet is an example.

As I reported on Exaro : ” The UK’s Security Service, better known as MI5, faces claims that it failed to realise the threat posed by his killers, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, who were jailed for life in February after being convicted of murder…

Relatives of Adebolajo say that MI5 had even approached him in 2011 to become an agent after he was deported from Kenya.

According to Kenyan police, Adebolajo led a group of eight young men who were trying to travel to Somalia to fight for al-Shabaab, an offshoot of al-Qaeda.”

What must be clear is that the report from MPs must concentrate on practical ways the security service can protect us, not giving them even more powers – after the revelations over the scale of the monitoring of us all through the  whistleblower Edward Snowdon- to obtrusively check every internet site. It will be acid test to see what is released and whether the committee- now properly resourced – can do a good job.

It is time for the intelligence services to be intelligent in chasing terrorists. It is not their job to want to be an overarching snooping body on the whole nation.