More evidence that the 1970s were the historical pivot upon which the fortunes of 20th Century social democracy turned. Proof, too, of just how clear-sighted and brave a social-democratic leader must be to face down the real "guardians" of the capitalist state.
By March 1976, a month before his planned resignation, Wilson knew that there were serious plots against him. He had the evidence of his own eyes and ears – the deluge of smears and gossip that had accompanied the 1974 Government: the ‘private armies’ episode; rumours of coups; a number of known tip-offs, discussed above; others we must reasonably presume we have not heard of. He had received confirmation from Oldfield and Hanley that MI5 were involved and had already sent a message via Weindenfeld to the CIA; and on the next day, 11 February, he had heard of the 1968 Cecil King ‘coup plot’ from Lord Zuckerman. At this point, Wilson was the man in the William Burroughs aphorism, the paranoid who really was the only one who knew what was going on. More, he had a problem: what could he actually do about it? The people who should investigate such things for the PM, MI5, were at the centre of the plots …..
….. Wilson embodied the radical end of the wartime social contract, which not only saw that a dynamic mixed economy demanded a producers’ alliance, but also saw that such an alliance could not succeed with an ascendant City of London. The extraordinary hatred that Wilson provoked on the British right was not irrational: Wilson was a serious threat; he knew who the 'enemy within' actually was. And they knew he knew; ‘they’ – the banker in the City with the elder brother in MI6 and a cousin in the Army – ‘they’ knew that Wilson, virtually alone among Labour leaders of his generation, had pulled aside the whisps of mystification which hid the British Establishment and seen the power of finance capital at its heart.
Excerpts from Smear! Wilson & the Secret State by Stephen Dorril & Robin Ramsay. Published in Great Britain in 1991 by Fourth Estate Limited.*
* Long out of print, I obtained my copy of this excellent piece of left-wing research courtesy of the Inverclyde Libraries, from whose collection, a large stamp rather ominously informed me, the book had been WITHDRAWN.