Mask: MI5s Penetration of the Communist Party of GB by Nigel West

LeftCentral Book Review 

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This book examines MI5`s 1930s infiltration of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) codenamed operation MASK, which involved the interception of radio communications between members of the CPGB and the Comintern in Moscow then headed by Georgi Dmitrov. Nigel West describes the role played by a range of personalities including Olga Gray codenamed M-12. Gray was recruited by British intelligence in 1931 and she had strong CPGB ties given that she was employed as a secretary to John Strachey. She was later identified as Miss X during the trial of Percy Glading, the CPGB national organiser who MI5 directed Gray to “cultivate”. As Nigel West informs us Glading and Douglas Springhall were imprisoned later as spies. Although Sringhall`s professionalism is doubted by West because he “had not been indoctrinated into the principles of Konspiratsia.” West provides individual chapter`s dealing with Springhall and Bob Stewart – BOB is described as the “Party`s spymaster”.

The book is dominated by two sets of primary sources, the MASK communication traffic pages 41 to 199, and the appendix pages 245 – 313. The appendix concerns an in-depth interview with General Krivitsky (aka Samuel Ginsberg) who visited Britain in 1940 the most compelling part of an absorbing book. West argues that the MASK material proves that the Comintern was an extension of Soviet foreign policy, promoting espionage while encouraging members of the CPGB to “take direction from a potential adversary and conspire to undermine Parliamentary democracy.” West informs us that several Labour MPs were “implicated” and are named. Read more of this post

Give Peace A Chance

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Interview with Julia Bush and LeftCentral

LC: What is the Al-Bireh Friendship Association?

JB: It began with a group of individuals endeavouring to do something positive to overcome the seemingly irresolvable conflict between the Palestinian and Israeli people in the Middle East. Whilst against the military occupation, we are not opposed to the state of Israel.

We decided to form a town twinning group to encourage dialogue between Northampton in the UK and Al-Bireh on the West Bank, at the same time promoting general opposition to the Israeli occupation. We are a growing group. Several public meetings generated large attendances and we now have over forty paid-up members.

Kate Scott and I recently visited Al-Bireh to make links with the area. We do not have town council approval at this stage but we took a letter to the Mayor of Al-Bireh from the Mayor of Northampton. We are tentatively making progress. Our Association is trying to raise awareness of the difficulties in the West Bank, extending solidarity, support and friendship while pressuring policy makers to implement international law and UN resolutions. We are a non-violent organisation and wish to link up with similar organisations to help end this military occupation through dialogue and peaceful pressure. We wish to share cultural and business interests and indulge in the usual activities associated with the town twinning process. We think it is important to humanize the conflict by developing sporting and cultural links and building up communications between the people of Northampton and Al-Bireh. Read more of this post