In the 1930’s, the conservative (bourgeois) establishment in the UK made much of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. Indeed, the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph continued to support Hitler’s policies and military adventures right up until the eve of war between the UK and Nazi Germany, whilst Winston Churchill made glowing written comments about Hitler, and the British royal family (including Queen Elizabeth II) were photographed making straight-armed (fascist) salutes! The rightwing proclivities of the British middle and upper classes are quite clear for all to see, and are active today in the British State’s support for the ‘Madan’ neo-Nazi government, currently active in Western Ukraine. What many are unaware of, however, is that whilst the conservative British establishment harps on about the merits of ‘liberal democracy’, it has historically behaved in a distinctly ‘illiberal’ and ‘non-democratic’ manner on a number of notable occasions.
The ‘minority’ Labour government of 1923 was established with the cooperation of the Liberals – this was the first Labour government and the Liberals only allowed it access to power as a means to discredit and bring-down this working class movement. In this respect, the Liberals were acting in concordance with the Conservatives and the British State. Just ten months later, the Labour Party (under Ramsey MacDonald) lost the October, 1924 General Election to a landslide Tory victory. In November, 1924, a delegation of British trade unions arrived in Moscow, and subsequently published a report stating that its representatives had studied the minutes of the meetings of the Executive Committee of the Comintern and had not found traces of anti-British activity. However, it is believed that the Labour Party was ousted from its tenuous grip on power by a plot perpetuated by White Russians, MI5, MI6, the Daily Mail, the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, Winston Churchill and Major Desmond Morton (amongst many other colluding individuals in positions of power and influence). This notorious episode in British politics has become known as the ‘Zinoniev Letter’ scandal, but is highly disturbing in its non-democratic and rightwing nature. I am researching from contemporary Russian language sources, but include a short English language video for reference purposes.
Although the Soviet Union was allegedly involved in this plot to incite a Socialist Revolution in the UK (by exporting the idea of armed worker uprisings via the various branches of the Communist Party), very little direct reference is made in Western sources to Soviet thoughts on this matter. Georgy Zinoniev (1883-1936) was the head of the ‘Communist International’ (i.e. ‘Comintern’) during the 1920’s, which served as the coordinating hub for all the Communist Parties of the world. Georgy Zinoniev (originally supported Joseph Stalin against Trotsky’s attempt to bring-down the Soviet System (following Lenin’s death in 1924), but slowly gravitated toward the Trotskyite Insurgency after this date. This ideological about-face eventually led to his arrest, trial and execution for ‘Treason’ in 1936. However, in September, 1924, the British MI6 stated that one of its operatives (in Latvia) had been handed a letter signed by Georgy Zinoniev on behalf of the Comintern, which was directed toward the Communist Party of Great Britain, and suggested that the Labour Party could be used to incite an armed uprising in the UK. The letter was handed to the British MI5, and subsequently found its way to Ramsey MacDonald – the Labour Prime Minister. However, British Secret Intelligence Services also took matters into their own hands (despite being instructed by the Prime Minister to keep this letter ‘secret’), and distributed copies to the heads of the army and navy, as well as to the rightwing press and various other establishment figures – without the knowledge or consent of the British Labour Prime Minister. The motivation for this underhand (and non-democratic) activity stemmed from the Labour Party’s willingness to recognise the existence of the Soviet Union, and enter into formal trade agreements.
As the Labour Party struggled to hold on to power, the rightwing and racist British newspaper the Daily Mail published the ‘Zinoniev Letter’ under the alarmist headline ‘Civil War Plot by Socialist Masters’ four days before the 1924 General Election (on the 25.10.1924). The Daily Mail falsely stated that if the UK became a Socialist State, it would directly fund the development of the USSR. In the meantime, in the Soviet Union an investigation was underway with Georgy Zinoniev denying any involvement and pointing-out obvious structural and rhetorical errors in the text. The Soviet Government had not issued any orders for such a letter to have been written, and it was proven through investigation that Georgy Zinoniev had not written this letter. Despite Soviet denials, and the fact that Georgy Zinoniev wrote an open letter exposing the fake letter that carried his name, the British press conspired not to publish Zinoniev’s ‘real’ letter until a month after the 1924 General Election. By that time the Tories had won power and had cancelled all previous diplomatic and trade agreements with the USSR, and nobody in the government was listening. In 1925, however, the German Language newspaper entitled ‘Red Flag’ published an article exposing the White Russian emigre named ‘Sergei Druzhilovsky’ (Сергей Дружиловский), who was immediately expelled from Germany. In 1926 he was arrested by the Soviet Border Guards after illegally crossing the Latvian-Soviet border. After an open trial held in Moscow (by the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR) Sergei Druzhilovsky was sentenced to be shot. Soviet sources make it very clear that the ‘Zinoniev Letter’ episode in the UK was the work of intelligence operative Major Desmond Morton, and that in the shadows behind him was the nefarious Winston Churchill.
The original letter was discovered in 1965, resulting in a book-investigation entitled ‘Zinoviev’s Letter’ and written by three journalists of the British newspaper The Sunday Times. In February, 1968, The Sunday Times published an article stating that photocopies of the original ‘Zinoniev Letter’ had been inexplicably found in the archives of Harvard University. The graphological analysis carried-out by the expert John Conway, suggested that the hand-writing within the ‘letter’ belonged to the British spy Sidney Reilly, who thus also was involved in fabricating the fake letter. Interestingly, Soviet Intelligence lured Sidney Reilly into the USSR in 1925, under the pretension of him contacting a fictitious anti-Soviet underground movement. Two stories then compete for attention, one is that Sidney Reilly was ‘shot’ for spying, whilst the other story suggests that he changed sides and started spying for the USSR. In the late 1990’s, Robin Cook, Foreign Minister of the Labour Government of Tony Blair, ordered the opening of certain archives. According to these files, the Zinoniev Letter was transferred to the Riga residence (in Latvia) by a Russian emigrant from Berlin, who earned money by creating such fakes. The research was conducted by Dr. Jill Bennett, and although placating the British establishment (whilst ‘hinting’ at impropriety), it nevertheless falsely claims that the exact identity of the original forger cannot be known. This demonstrates how the Labour Party had moved to the right, and how it was willing to ‘ignore’ the Soviet research on this subject.
Perhaps a lasting testimony to the corruption of the bourgeois British State and the Conservative Party, lies in the Labour Party’s rejection of true Socialism, and the 1925 pogrom aimed at the 12 leading Members of the Communist Party of Great Britain by the Tories, all of whom were put on trial and found guilty of seditious libel and incitement to mutiny – before being sentenced to various prison terms. All this was allowed to happen due to the anti-Socialist (and anti-Russian) atmosphere created in the UK by the fake ‘Zinoniev Letter’.
Of course, this entire episode is bizarre and indicative of an inverted bourgeois mind-set. Why would a letter addressed to the headquarters of the CPGB situated in London, be ‘discovered’ in Latvia? Logic dictates that if it was genuine, it would have been openly published by the Comintern and thereby made public. The Comintern made no secret of its Marxist-Leninist ideology, or the idea of its preference for a world-wide Socialist Revolution. However, such a Revolution arises from indigenous and spontaneous Workers’ Movements, and cannot be imposed ‘from above’ so to speak (as the fake ‘Zinoniev Letter’ and distorting bourgeois rhetoric suggests).
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