I spy

Letter by Martin Gilbert, Ulverston

It was a useful idea to have a reunion of those who occupied the Greek embassy in 1967 (letters, PN 2604–2605). Greece had been taken over by a military junta. Some were arrested and others acted as supporters of that nonviolent event.

Useful, because lessons can be found when young or new activists listen to such gatherings of old comrades. Hopefully, there will be a report of that planned get-together.

Another possible re-union could be those who actively supported the Spies for Peace. It would be a reminder how the State’s obsession with surveillance mainly serves its own interests. Also, such a gathering would help our discussions about resistance to such intrusion into our lives.

The Spies for Peace document was distributed on the 1963 CND Easter march from Aldermaston to London. It detailed locations of ‘Regional Seats of Goverment’ (RSGs) throughout Britain. RSGs were planned to govern in the event of a nuclear war.

The Spies for Peace document also exposed two lies: one that in such an event law and order could be kept; another exposed ‘deterrence’ as a sham. The government’s message was ‘the Bomb keeps us safe’. But those fall-out shelters were there for when their ‘deterrent’ failed to deter.

Establishment fury followed, threatening prosecution to the Spies and those who reproduced and circulated their report. But there were too many of us to be punished because of the speed with which things happened. Copies of the offending document spread all over Britain within days of that march. We were too quick and careful to be caught.

In subsequent days, the basics of the report went international, broadcast on Radio Moscow. The Soviet Union’s lies of ‘deterrence’ were equally exposed to their people.

Shown to them was the false claim that nukes were needed ‘to defend socialism’. If their leaders had such weapons, they also must have had bolt-holes for when the deterrent failed to deter. In turn, this drew fury from European Communist parties, against the Spies and their supporters.

Although some of those shelters have been updated, the deception of nuclear deterrence is still powerful. Governments have become increasingly paranoid, their technologies to spy on us ever more sophisticated. All in the name of ‘national security’. but we have the power to resist these threats to civil liberties.
We can take lessons from the Spies for Peace.