Stella Rimington used to be head of MI5. I once participated in a TV documentary with her, and was unimpressed: narrow-minded, right-wing and paranoid, like most of the rest of her generation of spooks. Later I reviewed her Memoirs for the LRB : https://www.lrb.co.uk/v23/n20/bernard-porter/more-interesting-than-learning-how-to-make-brandy-snaps. Now here she pops up again, warning us against the dangerous Lefties surrounding Jeremy Corbyn. Paul Mason’s account in the Guardian today is very much to the point: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/16/stella-rimington-should-stop-fuelling-paranoid-fantasies-about-jeremy-corbyn. We’ve seen this before: the Secret Services covertly working to subvert democratically-elected Labour governments, and possibly even succeeding. (See Robin Ramsay and Stephen Dorril’s Smear, 1992; and Chris Mullin’s fictional A Very British Coup.)
Could it happen again? I’d rather hoped that MI5 had been swept clean of all those right-wing fuddy-duddies since her time. But Mullin is not quite so sure: see https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/10/y-fictional-prime-minister-harry-perkins-jeremy-corbyn-a-very-british-coup. There are a lot of vested interests in Britain who might be sufficiently concerned and unprincipled to smear Corbyn as they smeared MacDonald and Wilson. Indeed, we can already see this almost every day in papers like the Daily Mail (one of the villains in those earlier plots). I imagine that Corbyn’s lieutenants are working to counter this, as they did quite effectively during the last general election. If Rimington’s (and the Mail’s) prejudices are still widespread in MI5, they’ll have their work cut out. Cunning fellas, these spooks. And with lots of hidden weapons. At the very least we should be aware.