In recent days a whistle blower has revealed that I was under surveillance by Special Branch in the nineteen eighties and nineties. I cannot say it comes as a complete surprise. Ever since the beginnings of the Labour movement, the state has made use of spies and informers. The recent revelations have been specifically about ten Members of Parliament. But I imagine that many readers of Left Futures have a Special Branch file somewhere as a result of their activities on the left or in their trade union.
When the issue was debated in parliament, there was stress on the fact that for the Special Branch to continue keep left activists under surveillance once they were members of parliament was a clear breach of parliamentary privilege. As the Guardian newspaper put it:
this is both a grotesque breach of police power and a grave intrusion on the privilege of elected MPs, a privilege that exists to allow them to be guardians of their constituents’ freedoms”.