Margaret Thatcher

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Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Hilda Thatcher (13 October 1925-8 April 2013) was prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 and leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990.[1]

Shield: Counter-subversion in opposition

Thatcher first met Brian Crozier on 9 March 1976 at the Eaton Place home of Lord De L'Isle, along with Norris McWhirter, John Gouriet and Robert Moss. Apart from Thatcher, all present were founder members of the Freedom Association.[2]

In 1976, Crozier and Nicholas Elliott set up Shield, a secret committee to advise Thatcher on intelligence. Created on the initiative of backbencher Stephen Hastings, Shield met at Thatcher's Chelsea home and at her room in in the House of Commons.[3]

Shield commissioned a report on subversion from a former senior member of MI6, which was completed by May 1977.[4]

Using the resources of the Institute for the Study of Conflict, Shield went on to produce some 20 papers, which were circulated to Mrs Thatcher, and to three members of the shadow cabinet, Keith Joseph, William Whitelaw and Peter Carrington. In Crozier's assessment, Joseph was the most sympathetic, while Carrington was the most hostile.[5]

Thatcher and the three shadow cabinet 'receivers' of Shield intelligence met with the organisation in the summer of 1978. Carrington strongly criticised shield's proposal for a Counter-Subversion executive during this meeting.[6]

Counter-subversion in Government

Following the Conservative election victory in 1979, the incoming Home Secretary, William Whitelaw, told MI5 director-general Howard Smith that he wanted to be sufficiently well-briefed to counter "some of the rather extreme advice" Mrs Thatcher had received.[7]

At his first meeting with the Prime Minister, Smith found that "Mrs Thatcher assumes a great role and influence on the part of the Communist Party and Trotskyists in the industrial field than they did in fact enjoy."[8]

At an early meeting with Smith, Dickie Franks, Lord Rothschild and Sir John Hunt, Thatcher said she wanted all industrial wreckers identified. Smith argued against a sugggestion by Hunt that MI5's charter should be extended to cover this.[9]

In June 1979, Shield met to consider a report by a recently retired senior MI5 officer. Charles Elwell is one possible candidate for the authorship of this study, which was described as follows by Brian Crozier:

This was a a penetrating dissection of the Security Service and where it had gone wrong. The picture that emerged was of an intellectually weakened organisation no longer prepared to take Marxist-Leninist influences seriously. Too much time and resources were devoted to the trailing of foreign spies (which it was argued, could be left to the police Special Branch) and too little to domestic subversion. This report was intended for the new Prime Minister and was duly passed on to her, though to little effect, if any.[10]

Shield had its first meeting with Mrs Thatcher as Prime Minister at Chequers on 15 July 1979, according to Brian Crozier, "Nothing of much substance was said. The message of the occasion, unspoke but clear, was 'Thanks but no thanks.' Shield was dead."[11]

Early in October 1979, Howard Smith learned of a secret Chequers meeting to which he had not been invited. on 21 October, Thatcher, Lord Carrington, Keith Joseph, John Hunt, and his successor as Cabinet Secretary, Robert Armstrong discussed "action to counter hostile forces working for industrial unrest." As a result, the head of MI5's F2 section, John Deverell, was seconded to run a unit in the Cabinet Office which covertly passed material to British Leyland for use in the Longbridge dispute.[12]

In October 1979, Crozier and Elliott received a report from a mole in Militant which they submitted to the Prime Minister. Thatcher agreed to a series of meetings at Chequers, which took place without the knowledge of senior ministers. She initially said she had not received similar intelligence on Militant from MI5, but later said they had 'caught up.'[13]

According to Crozier, the proposal for a Counter-Subversion Executive was rejected by the Cabinet Secretary, apparently at some point before October 1981 , when Crozier wrote a secret memo to the Prime Minister proposing the appointment of a co-ordinator instead. This plan was discussed at Chequers on 2 January 1982. On 4 January, Thatcher instructed the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Robert Armstrong to report on the idea.[14]

By July 1982, Crozier believed that an information co-ordinator with counter-subversion responsibilities would be appointed. He later learned however, that he was mistaken about the role of the intelligence coordinator, who worked to the Joint Intelligence Committee.[15]

On 28 February 1985, Thatcher met Crozier in Downing Street. He briefed her on the Coalition for Peace through Security, and work "combatting Marxist influence in education." He also strongly criticised the outgoing head of MI5, Sir John Jones.[16]

Crozier had his final meeting with Mrs Thatcher on 25 January 1988.[17]

Tax loophole

In an article in 2002 on the subject of how 'Rich people are costing Britain millions in lost tax by not registering their houses in their own names', the Guardian[18] reports that Thatcher's home in Chester Square, London is registered as owned by Bakeland Property Ltd, Jersey. It was acquired in 1991 and Thatcher has it on 64 year lease. The shares for Bakeland Property Ltd are held by two Jersey individuals (Leonard Day and Hugh Thurston) who are the Thatcher family's financial advisers. According to the report, they are 'acting as nominees for a trust with concealed beneficiaries'. The former prime minister's office is reported to have refused to explain why she does not apparently own her own house. Leonard Day in Jersey is reported to have said: "No one's going to tell you about that." The article claims that through the exploitation of legal loopholes 'wealthy individuals... appear to be enjoying the country's choicest property virtually tax-free'. The article also mentions Anthony Tabatznik, Mohamed Al Fayed, David Potter, Tony Tabatznik, Lakshmi Mittal, Uri David, Rupert Allason, Wafic Said, Prince Bandar and Christopher Ondaatje as others who are not the registered owners of their homes who may benefit from such a loophole.

Thatcher's home is estimated to be worth at least £2.5m. As she is not the registered owner she has potentially avoided at least £100,000 in stamp duty and £900,000 in inheritance tax.[19]

Affiliations

External Resources

Notes

  1. Ex-Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher dies, BBC News, 8 April 2013.
  2. Brian Crozier, Free Agent: The Unseen War 1941-1991, HarperCollinsPublishers, 1993, p.127.
  3. Brian Crozier, Free Agent: The Unseen War 1941-1991, HarperCollinsPublishers, 1993, p.128.
  4. Brian Crozier, Free Agent: The Unseen War 1941-1991, HarperCollinsPublishers, 1993, p.128.
  5. Brian Crozier, Free Agent: The Unseen War 1941-1991, HarperCollinsPublishers, 1993, p.130.
  6. Brian Crozier, Free Agent: The Unseen War 1941-1991, HarperCollinsPublishers, 1993, p.143.
  7. Christopher Andrew, The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, p.673.
  8. Christopher Andrew, The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, p.670.
  9. Christopher Andrew, The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, p.671.
  10. Brian Crozier, Free Agent: The Unseen War 1941-1991, HarperCollinsPublishers, 1993, p.144.
  11. Brian Crozier, Free Agent: The Unseen War 1941-1991, HarperCollinsPublishers, 1993, p.144.
  12. Christopher Andrew, The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5, Allen Lane, 2009, pp.671-672.
  13. Brian Crozier, Free Agent: The Unseen War 1941-1991, HarperCollinsPublishers, 1993, p.146.
  14. Brian Crozier, Free Agent: The Unseen War 1941-1991, HarperCollinsPublishers, 1993, p.146.
  15. Brian Crozier, Free Agent: The Unseen War 1941-1991, HarperCollinsPublishers, 1993, p.147.
  16. Brian Crozier, Free Agent: The Unseen War 1941-1991, HarperCollinsPublishers, 1993, p.255.
  17. Brian Crozier, Free Agent: The Unseen War 1941-1991, HarperCollinsPublishers, 1993, p.254.
  18. Evans, R & Hencke, D. (2002) 'Tax loopholes on homes benefit the rich and cost UK millions'. The Guardian 25th May 2002. Accessed 22nd May 2008
  19. Rob Evans and David Hencke, "Tax loopholes on homes benefit the rich and cost UK millions: Choice homes, virtually tax free", The Guardian, 25th May 2002