What is “intelligence” and how does it relate to the image of the spy in popular culture? How does the process of gathering and applying intelligence actually work? Ask John le Carré (David John Moore Cornwell), who knows best!
Intelligence and espionage are keys to the controversial aspect of ensuring national security. Separating fact from fiction, the use and misuse of intelligence, counterintelligence and the use of covert action, to influence foreign countries and individuals is vital for our safety.
Now, we read about Labour MP Stan Orme
code named Manchester, who passed on information to foreign agents. Orme was one of a number of Labour MPs targeted by undercover operatives. His handler, František Hrůza, came to UK in 1968, and pretended to be diplomat. Orme, who went on to serve under James Callaghan, would meet with undercover agents every month, and was one of a number of Labour MPs targeted by foreign agents.
Hrůza also met with another Labour MP, Alf Lomas, later Labour’s leader in the European parliament, and Barnett Stross, the Labour MP code-named Gustav. Hrůza would wine and dine Orme and ply him with gifts of cigars to give information on the Western European Union, a military alliance. Lomas was useful because he would discuss politics with him and also get information on other possible Labour collaborators.
Orme later became disillusioned with the Czech communist party in September 1969. He was listed in the confidential files as a high level collaborator, along with Raymond Mawby, a Tory cabinet minister, spy codename “Laval”.
Mawby is understood to have given spies information about the treasury committee and also some plans of specific rooms at Parliament. Do you suppose it was the location of the HoC toilets?
Other meetings reported back to Prague spymasters were also understood to have taken place with Sir Edward Brown, Tory MP for Bath, and Geraint Morgan, the Welsh Conservative MP.
Why is it news? Because according to the Times, Soviet leader Vladimir Putin is recreating the world that shaped him, cold-war spying. Putin can manipulate us because he has learnt that in espionage, it’s not generally the secrets that matter, it’s the reaction of the public, media and politicians whenever spies are exposed to the light. The attack on the superannuated minor double agent Skripal is chiefly a public statement. Russia is telling Britons we can kill with impunity in your country, and it’s telling powerful Russians in Britain, we can kill you.
Meanwhile, John le Carré has written yet another excellent spook novel, “Agent Running in the Field”
which found its way into my Christmas stocking. It’s “A chilling portrait of our time, now heart breaking, now darkly humorous”, involving a Brexit hater and a ragtag band of spies! It’s superb, with unflagging tension if you are like me a “spy buff”! My codename?
PhoenixIndigo, of course!