Peter Shipley

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Peter Shipley was a Conservative activist active in the 1980s.


According to the Guardian, Shipley "has been a keen researcher of groups on the left and on the right since his student days at York University in the late sixties."

At that time his name appeared on a membership list for the National Front, although he denies ever being a member. He was registered under the number 8699 at his parents' address in Leicester.
Mr Shipley told the Guardian yesterday that the entry must have been a mistake. 'I may be on the circulation list for the receipt of literature,' he said. 'But I have no sympathies in that direction at all. In fact I have contributed articles to the journal of the Commission for Racial Equality. '[1]


The Guardian reports:

For a brief time after university he worked at Rank Xerox, it is known that the wife of the then director of personnel was a serving officer with the security service, MI5. After leaving the civil service in 1976, he edited as a freelance the one-off Guardian Directory of Pressure Groups.[2]


According to Brian Crozier, Shipley was a researcher for Shield, the secret counter-subversion committee which Crozier organised in the late 1970s to advise Margaret Thatcher.[3]

Conservative Research Department

In 1977, Shipley joined the Conservative Research Department:

His special area was to monitor developments in opposition parties. He then became head of the desk which was later used to discredit CND in the 1983 election.
The man who took over that job, Mr Piers Woolley, told the Guardian yesterday that under Mr Shipley's direction 'it was very clear that targeting of individuals was already taking place. '[4]

Shipley worked in the Prime Minister's Policy Unit for two years until September 1984.[5] He then joined Conservative Party Central Office.[6]

More than Militant

In September 1986, Shipley published More than Militant, a pamphlet on the Labour Party for Conservative Central Office.[7] The Times reported:

The Labour Party has been infiltrated successfully by three Trotskyist organizations in addition to the Militant Tendency, according to a pamphlet by Mr Peter Shipley, a former adviser to the Prime Minister, published yesterday.
In his pamphlet More than Militant: The future of the Labour left, Mr Shipley predicts that after the next general election, two-thirds of Labour MPs will belong to the Tribune Group or organizations further to the left.[8]

1987 election

In 1987, Shipley was seconded to Conservative Central Office, working directly under Norman Tebbit, providing quotes to be used by Saatchi and Saatchi against left-wing parliamnetary candidates.[9]

The Guardian reported that Tebbit was subsequently asked for an assurance that Conservative Central Office was not responsible for a 'spate of smears and innuendoes' against the Labour Party:

Mr Bryan Gould, Labour's campaign coordinator, yesterday asked Mr Tebbit specifically to clarify the role of Mr Peter Shipley, a former adviser to Mrs Thatcher in the No. 10 Policy Unit. Mr Gould said that Mr Shipley was rumoured to have links with the intelligence services although he had no evidence to support that.[10]

Hostile Action

In October 1989, Shipley published Hostile Action, the KGB and Secret Soviet Operations in Britain. It was reviewed in The Guardian, by Richard Norton-Taylor:

THE KGB's role under President Gorbachev is likely to increase, with Soviet agents proving 'a keener, rather than less menacing, adversary,' says a former political adviser to Mrs Thatcher in a book published yesterday.
Mr Peter Shipley, a member of the Prime Minister's policy unit in Downing Street from 1982 to 1984, also speculates that British agents recruited by the KGB over the past 20 years might still be active.
He says that although Soviet and East European diplomats have tried to cultivate Conservative Party officials, it is the Labour Party and the trade unions which have a special attraction for Soviet intelligence.[11]

Blair Profile

In 1995, Shipley wrote a profile of Tony Blair for the Wall Street Journal:

"When flesh is put on the bones of Blairite modernism," reads Mr Shipley's astounding conclusion, "it too often reeks of Labour's old corpse."[12]



  1. David Pallister, Election 87: Labour seks assurance on 'dirty tricks', The Guardian, 6 June 1987.
  2. David Pallister, Election 87: Labour seks assurance on 'dirty tricks', The Guardian, 6 June 1987.
  3. Brian Crozier, Free Agent: The Unseen War 1941-1991, HarperCollinsPublishers, 1993, p.129.
  4. David Pallister, Election 87: Labour seks assurance on 'dirty tricks', The Guardian, 6 June 1987.
  5. Richard Norton-Taylor, Senior Defence Ministry official 'to resign soon' / John Stanley, Minister of State for the Armed Forces, The Guardian, 6 September 1984.
  6. Phil Edwards and Robin Ramsay, The 'Terrorist Threat' in Britain, Lobster 17, November 1988.
  7. Beware the Kinnock factor, Tory warns / Conservatives alerted to Labour's new image, Martin Wainwright, 26 September 1986.
  8. Candidate selection is halted, The Times, 25 September 1986.
  9. David Hencke, Election 87: Tebbit's aide digs to discredit left candidates - Anti-Militant author joins Central Office to fuel Saatchi and Saatchi, The Guardian, 4 June 1987.
  10. David Pallister, Election 87: Labour seks assurance on 'dirty tricks', The Guardian, 6 June 1987.
  11. Richard Norton-Taylor, KGB activity likely to become keener, says ex-Tory adviser, The Guarfdian, 27 October 1989.
  12. Matthew Norman, Diary, The Guardian, 5 October 1995.