On the second Viscount Stansgate

“He was not intelligence material,” Gordievsky said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.

“Popov said, when going through your reports about meetings with different politicians to be sent to Moscow, be careful. Some of them are not truthful. I said, who are you talking about? He said Tony Benn.”

“He was an unnecessary simpleton, who told left-wing fairytales and falsified stories,” Gordievsky concluded.

The view on the Left that he was an intellectual titan was not shared by the Russians, he added.

12 thoughts on “On the second Viscount Stansgate”

  1. So Much for Subtlety

    My opinion of Soviet intelligence has just gone up – even though these were the people who were upstaged by the Stasi and the Stasi were the people who gave Bea Campbell free holidays to reward her for her sterling efforts.

    But good to see even they could see he was a dishonest, self regarding, self involved [email protected] of epic proportions. Someone who into the 1980s was calling Mao Zedong a great man.

  2. Gordievsky is unfair. Compared with the majority of the British Left, Wedgie-Benn was an intellectual titan.

  3. Could the following play into it:

    He was such a fantasist and so obviously and openly pro Soviet tyranny that he was a risk to their operations? That him being an agent would just be so incredibly obvious as to put *them* at risk?

    Anyway, people like Benn, Foot, Scargill and so on are as bad as the nazis. They just convinced themselves and a section of the press that they aren’t.

  4. Fun stuff. While the pipe-chomping old waffler was still alive, it never ceased to astound me that so many fell for his “intellectual” prattle.

    But then a lot of people think Stephen Fry is some sort of genius. A lot of people are idiots.

    This bit rankles, even 30 years later:

    They discussed Michael Foot’s correspondence with Andropov, the Soviet leader, asking for his views on Britain abandoning all nuclear weapons ahead of that year’s General Election.

    Can we dig up the donkey-jacketed Quisling and hang what’s left of him?

  5. So Much for Subtlety

    Steve – “Can we dig up the donkey-jacketed Quisling and hang what’s left of him?”

    It could have been worse. Foot could have been a murderer as well as a traitor:


    [Teddy] KENNEDY ALSO OFFERED TO WORK in close concert with high level Soviet officials to sabotage President Ronald Reagan’s re-election efforts and to orchestrate favorable American press coverage for Andropov and Soviet military officials, according to the 1983 KGB document.

    But a hanging, even at this late stage, seems appropriate.

  6. He’s only a “titan” because media like the BBC and theatrical luvvies loved him.

    His highest office was MInister for Technology where he created the money pit that was Concorde and ICL who mostly survived by selling to the public sector. In opposition he was a total disaster, leading Labour to one of their worst ever defeats.

    And since then, the BBC occassionally wheeled him out for his opinions, nearly all of which were shown to be both stupid and unpopular. The only thing he was right about was the bureaucratic and centralised EEC, although bizarrely, he couldn’t see anything wrong with British industry being centralised and bureaucratic. I think it was more that he didn’t mind things being centralised and bureaucratic if he was in charge of things.

  7. Benn was a moron in the way that they are all morons, on account of how they don’t see that their dreams are incompatible with human nature. The dangerous ones are those who do see this and decide to remove significant numbers of humans from the equation so as to move forward.

  8. I love the idea of Ted Kennedy offering to work for the Soviets against Ronald Reagan’s Re – election. The Russians must have looked at the ‘D’ after his name in debates and wondered why as a Democrat he wasn’t trying to do that anyway.

  9. Charles Moore wrote an excellent piece on Michael Foot; these Tony Benn memories are of the same ilk. It seems there were two types of British lefty. There was the hard left Marxist thinker; far more dangerous. Then there was the romantic dreamer, the useful idiot.
    Popov decided Tony Benn was the latter after a long lunch. Michael Meacher was with him at that lunch. Michael Meacher now makes common cause with Howard Read, Caroline Lucas, Colin Hines, Alex Cobham and our favourite fuckwit blogger. Idiots all, Unite’s useful idiots.

  10. bloke (not) in spain

    ” Someone (Benn) who into the 1980s was calling Mao Zedong a great man.”
    Mau Zedong was a great man. Stalin & Hitler were also great me. Benn’s failure was praising the manner of his greatness.
    Benn was a very small man. Almost microscopic.

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