When a Trotskyist met the former director of MI5

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Sep 23 11:53:23 MDT 2001

(posted to alt.politics.socialism.trotsky by JJ Plant)

Our comrade Dr David Turner has kindly agreed that his private email,
which follows, may be circulated widely. I commend it to your
attention :

Book-signing at Hatchard's, Piccadilly (the posh people's bookshop,
By Royal Appointment -- next to Fortnum & Mason) by Stella Rimington,
author of "Open Secret: The Autobiography of the Former
Director-General of MI5" (Hutchinson, London 2001) -- Tues. 18 Sept.
2001 (lunchtime):

DT (presenting book for signing after queuing briefly behind several
people, including a woman wearing an Anarchist badge): Hello. Do you
mind a lengthy inscription?

SR (smiling, flanked by several suited goons and bookshop staff):
That depends what it is. If it's a long one, I'll put my glasses on.

DT: Can you put "To David Turner -- from a spook to a subversive"?
[SR begins writing] And please can I know what's on my file?
[laughter from bookshop staff]

SR (smiling like an indulgent headmistress): I'm sure you haven't got

DT: I was a member of the Militant Tendency for 13 years, so I think
I probably do have one. [SR looks uncomfortable] I would love to know
what you and Tony Crassweller and Ray Whitby [two 1980s MI5 officers
in F Branch who monitored Trotskyists] and all those other people
were writing about me. [SR looks shocked that I can name two of her
colleagues and that I know exactly what kind of work they did
(actually their names have appeared in print, although they are not
well-known; SR is clearly ill-informed about such things)]

SR (condescendingly, with a half-smile): Well, you'll have to apply
to, er, the relevant authorities! [SR is clearly very ill-informed
about MI5's archival policy too]

DT: But I can't -- counter-subversion files aren't being released. If
it was an ASIO file I could see it [comparatively recent
counter-subversion files of the Australian Security Intelligence
Organization (a clone of MI5) are freely available at the National
Archives in Canberra]. But the counter-subversion files aren't being
opened in this country -- and I think they should be. [goon takes
hold of my elbow and leads me away]

SR (smiling nervously): I'll pass on the message! [How? She's persona
non grata in Thames House and Whitehall now!]

 When I got back to work and inspected the book I realised that,
although the jumped-up librarian had written the inscription I'd
requested, she'd actually failed to sign it! And her book contains
just two fleeting references to the Militant Tendency (at pp. 95 and

Incidentally, the security in Hatchard's was minimal. It would have
been so easy to get in with a gun and take her out.

Louis Proyect, lnp3 at panix.com on 09/23/2001

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