1. Introduction

Many things have changed since I first became interested in the Economic League six years ago. The most obvious change is that the League itself no longer exists. When I started writing "Spies at Work" it was intended to be a further weapon in the battle to bring about the League's demise. It is now a history and obituary of the League as a political organisation, although its two most senior members of staff perpetuate its worst excess through their own business consultancy called "Caprim".

The League was forced out of business, by a Parliamentary campaign led by Maria Fyfe, an extra parliamentary campaign led by Labour Research (for the best part of seventy years), key Trade Unions, and more recently by League Watch. But what really did for the League was a relentless onslaught of good investigative and campaigning journalism in newspapers and magazines and on television. What has been particularly impressive and unusual has been the way in which local as well as national journalists have taken up the story.

If I have had any role to play in the League's demise, beyond being periferally involved in Maria Fyfe's Anti-Blacklisting Campaign and more centrally in League Watch, then it has been as an initial source of information to many of those journalists. Invariably they have always come back with new information, and far more information than I could have gathered through conventional research methods.

The journalists to whom we all owe the greatest debt however are those at World in Action. The three meticulously researched programmes they transmitted (and in which I had no role whatsoever) did more than anything else to stop the League in its tracks.

It is thus particularly disappointing to record that when Tony Watson, a researcher on the last two World in Action programmes, returned to Yorkshire Post newspapers to edit first the Yorkshire Evening Post and then the Yorkshire Post that he was given - and accepted - the task of derecognising the NUJ.

Much of the material from those WIA programmes was published by Liberty (The National Council for Civil Liberties) in "The Economic League - The Silent McCarthyism", by Mark Hollingsworth and Charles Tremayne (1989, ISBN 0 946088 35 7). Mark Hollingsworth was also co-author with Richard Norton-Taylor of the equally valuable book "Blacklist - the inside story of political vetting" (Hogarth Press, 1988).

The most sustained and thorough investigation of the League however has been that conducted by the Labour Research Department. They have been publishing details of the League's activities since the mid 1920's and I am particularly grateful to them for their help and support and access to their library. Without their eternal vigilance the League would still be operating. It is difficult to know how to thank the countless people who have helped me in one way or another over the last six years. Unfortunately I cannot thank them by them name. The League might be defunct but blacklists are not, and even those who would have been happy to have been named would have received more trouble than glory.

Finally I must thank my colleagues on 1 in 12 publications, and say a word about the unusual way in which most copies of this book are being distributed. Over many years we have been publishing occasional investigative books and magazines. Access publishing, that is establishing and maintaining control of our own publications, has always presented logistical and financial problems. How do we find the money to print the books and magazines, to distribute them, and where on earth do we keep the stock? Issuing the text on this purpose-designed software package has solved many of these problems.

Please feel free to make and distribute copies to your friends and colleagues. If you feel able to pay a registration fee of £3.00 (or £10.00 for the hard copy plus disk) we will keep you updated with future versions and publications.

Mike Hughes, May 1994