3 The Ripples Spread

Submitted by Reddebrek on November 2, 2017

IT was most instructive to watch the ripples spread. Thousands rallied to the call. Whoever the 'Spies' might be, they were certainly not Communists. No centralised, 'disciplined' organization could ever have pulled off anything like it.

Both the police and the state bureaucrats think in terms of hierarchy, of tight organization, of a centre issuing instructions, of a rigid plan, of master-minds behind it all, directing operations. They see their opponents in their own image. They cannot think in other terms. They cannot grasp the tremendous advantages of decentralisation, the tremendous efficiency of non-authoritarian organisation, the tremendous power of rank and file initiative. The 'Spies' have perhaps taught them their first political lesson.

By Saturday night, the original pamphlets were already well-thumbed. The Sunday Telegraph1 deplored the fact that although the police had arrested several marchers who were carrying the document, many more had copies and were openly handing them around. The Evening News2 claimed that copies were changing hands at 2d. each. State secrets for the price of a box of matches. But there was worse to come.

On Sunday 'some 15,000 leaflets giving extracts from the ''Spies for Peace" anti-nuclear document were handed out to Aldermaston marchers and onlookers in Chiswick. Police describe this as a quite deliberate violation of the law'.3 The Daily Mail4 was accurately to describe the situation in banner headlines: 'SECRETS FLOOD'.

On Easter Monday, the facts were made known to many thousands more. 'Twenty-four thousand summaries of the leaflet were handed out'5 in the morning. The Press seemed much better informed than the police about the technical details. According to the Mail, 14,000 had been stencilled at a secret address in London the previous afternoon and another 6,000 during the night. The arithmetic sounds wonky but the facts sound true.

'One marcher trailed a basket on wheels, suspected to be filled with the pamphlet'.6 As the march proceeded along Regent Street and Oxford Street hundreds of marchers were chanting: 'RSG — Warren Row', informing the people of London of their nearest shelter. 'Some of the marchers had the location and the telephone number of RSG 6 chalked on their denim shirts'7 'The banned name was scrawled in chalk and paint on vans and banners. It even appeared in the dust on a Black Maria'.8 In Hyde Park, Vanessa Redgrave 'publicly mentioned — before 80,000 people — the exact location and purpose of RSG 6'.9

The administrative reflexes of the police were brisk and to the point. 'One man was arrested for singing the secret. An inspector and a constable took a note of his words and then led him away as the march neared Hyde Park.'10 'A singing spy, my Lord. And sober, too. I heard him with my own ears. In Piccadilly, it was, and in broad daylight'. The police also arrested 'a man who had walked 14 miles carrying a placard naming the centre'.11

A shortened version of the pamphlet was openly distributed in Northern towns by CND supporters returning from the Aldermaston March. On April 17, it was distributed in Doncaster public houses. 'The Doncaster CND organizer, Mr. Rogan, of Wheatley Hall Road, said: "I have been openly distributing these pamphlets and I have handed out 50 in public houses. I have sent a copy to the Chief Constable of Doncaster this afternoon, by recorded delivery".12 No chance here for the authorities to plead ignorance!

On the same day, according to the Guardian12, nearly 500 duplicated sheets containing an abbreviated version of the 'Spies for Peace' pamphlet appeared after lunch, at the National Union of Students Easter Conference, held at Keele University, Staffordshire. Delegates returning from the recess found copies on their seats. Martin Loney, President of the Students Union at Bradford Technical College, admitted to duplicating the Aldermaston document at 4.0 a.m. that morning. 'The only people we are giving the secrets to now is the British public. He thought the 'Spies for Peace' document should be as widely known as possible. He hoped that students would help to duplicate it.'

Detective Inspector A. A. Robbins, head of the local (Newcastle- under-Lyne) CID — questioned Mr. Loney and delegates for several hours. The inspector later revealed two important facts. Firstly that "no doubt by now all the students will have read the document". Secondly "that he was preparing a report for the Chief Constable of Staffordshire, Mr. S. Peck".12 All these reports should keep the local bureaucrats busy for some time to come.

On April 20, the detectives were to return to the NUS Conference 'to make further inquiries before the delegates leave. They interviewed two women students, "putting a number of names to them". The ladies wouldn't play and were "unable to help". Inspector Robbins claimed they had "just been tying up the loose ends to our inquiries".'13 Now the police have no "loose ends" to trip over we await developments.
On April 18, the French 'left wing' paper France Observateur published parts of the secrets document, including the detailed maps of the internal installations at RSG 6. 'One Whitehall official who studied the paper commented: "They have done us dirt on this".' By Gad, Sir, they had!

The France Observateur editorial stated that 'military secrets, mysterious and forbidding when locked up in the files of the General Staff, become objects of ridicule when distributed on the roadside, in the form of leaflets'. 'One of the greatest taboos of our world had been broken. "Treason" ceased to be treason when it became a public service. The audacity of the "Spies" had promoted the peace march from the arena of British folklore into an event of international significance'. Tens of thousands of copies of this paper must have been sold all over France. They must have been available to any Russian — or Albanian — spy, in arrears with his home work and with 1,50Fr. to spare.

The British public had to be kept in the dark. Hachette, the London distributors of France Observateur, put an unofficial ban on the distribution of issue 678. The paper was 'not available' at any British bookstall. A spokesman for Hachette declined to comment 'on the phone' why the decision had been taken.14 Peace News, continuing the good work, announced where to get the paper directly (10, rue des Pyramides, Paris).
Despite the ban many copies of France Observateur entered Britain. A spokesman for the ministry of Defence claimed that 'anyone distributing it would be liable under the Official Secrets Acts!'
And still the D notices were maintained!

The whole world knew. But the British public had no right to know. Nothing showed up more clearly the absurd nature of these rules. From whom were state secrets now being kept? Who now constituted the main threat to the rule and survival of the self-selected few? The answer was obvious: the ordinary people of Britain. They had to be kept in the dark because they were not catered for. The Sunday Telegraph15 let the cat out of the bag: 'To have these centres generally known would be to make them vulnerable to the kind of invasion that some of the Aldermaston marchers attempted yesterday — and so unusable.' In other words millions of people were expendable. Those who survived the initial attack were considered some kind of radioactive mob to be administered from underground by the self-appointed bureaucrats. We frankly don't understand why the Sunday Telegraph works itself into such a lather. Do its editor and staff really think that they and their families have been catered for? Has Mr. Gladstone Smith a reserved place in RSG 6?

There is only one conclusion to all this. If distribution of the pamphlet is an act 'prejudicial to the interests of the state' then the interests of the state and the interests of the people lie poles apart. The pamphlet has done an excellent job if it has done nothing else but expose this fact for all to see. But it has done more. It has shown that those in control of the state are quite prepared to resort to conspiracy and to legal terrorism to maintain their right to rule.

* * *
On April 18, the full horror of the situation dawned on the authorities. 'Copies of the "Spies for Peace" pamphlet had been sold at ten shillings a copy in Cambridge coffee bars and pubs. Students had been seen selling photographic copies of the original pamphlet'.16 And there was still worse to come: 'Dr. Thomas Combe, the University's senior proctor said "There must be a number of copying machines in the University. It should not be too hard to find the one involved. If they are being produced on a University machine it is likely that it would be by senior members of the University. This is a little awkward. The proctors have no jurisdiction over senior members".'17

The Times18 had a brain wave. 'It is believed that one of the original pamphlets was brought back to Cambridge by an undergraduate who was on the Aldermaston March'. Top people are charged 5d. a day for these expert inferences and deductions.

Just think of the full implications of this delightful episode. Senior members of a senior university. Pillars of the Establishment. The men deemed ablest to train our future generations. Busy, burning the midnight oil. No, not deciphering mediaeval manuscripts. Churning out State Secrets by the hundred. For sale in coffee bars and pubs. On whose authority do our rulers still presume to rule? Their own ranks are riddled with rebels and renegades. O tempora, O mores.

And still the ripples spread. On April 19, 'members of the anti-war "Spies for Peace" group left a placard outside Swansea public library saying "get your secrets here". They had scattered their leaflets inside the library'.19 The Mail20 claimed that 'detectives were trying to discover where the leaflets came from'. The local police were called to remove the litter. They really should get a rise if rubbish disposal is now part of their official duties. The Herald added that 'thousands more copies of the "Spies for Peace" pamphlet would be left on park seats and in public shelters in the West Country today'. It did not mention whether special constables would be drafted in from neighbouring districts to help the park attendants.

On the same day, according to the Daily Telegraph21 'painted letters 4 feet high appeared on a railway bridge and station wall at Harlow, Essex, spelling out the name of a Berkshire village said by the "Spies for Peace" to be the secret address of a Regional Seat of Government in the event of a nuclear war.' The same paper reported that 'Between 500 and 1,000 leaflets with extracts from the "Spies for Peace" pamphlet are due to be distributed in Bristol this week-end by an anonymous group … Members of the Welsh Committee of 100 plan to distribute about 2,000 stencilled sheets of comment on the "Spies for Peace" pamphlet today … Barrack rooms at the Bicester headquarters of the 16th Battalion RAOC had been searched for paint and brushes after CND signs had been painted on walls'. We understand the only brushes found were toothbrushes.

On April 22, aldermen, councillors, and many local businessmen in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, received copies of the "Spies for Peace" pamphlet.22 Over 600 copies had been issued. Some of them had been posted, others distributed by hand.23 The authors claimed the pamphlet had been duplicated 'somewhere in Tunbridge Wells'. 'Police said they were making enquiries.'24

On April 28, the Sunday Times reported that on the previous day local councillors at Thurrock, Essex, had received copies of the "Spies for Peace" pamphlet. 'They had had to pay a 2d. postal surcharge. The pamphlets were sent in sealed envelopes with only a 2d. stamp'. A member of the local Committee of 100 said 'We put 2d. stamps on purposely. We felt councillors should help to meet distribution costs'. We suggest councillors reclaim expenses from funds allocated to Civil Defence. After all they are entitled to the information and the government isn't providing it.

On May 8, the Daily Telegraph reported that 3 lecturers on the staff of the University of Sussex and 28 undergraduates had issued a leaflet supporting the "Spies for Peace" pamphlet. The leaflet reproduced part of the original text. One thousand copies were already circulating in the university. The authors had signed their names to the leaflet. They had done so 'to emphasize that despite any subsequent action the government may take we feel that we must not be intimidated.'

Local CND groups openly took up the challenge. On Saturday, April 20, 27 members of Romford YCND distributed information about regional seats of government in Romford market place. On May 4, they distributed full copies of the 'Spies for Peace' pamphlet. Harlow CND's magazine Candis published a statement welcoming the publication of the 'Spies for Peace' document. John Taylor (Chairman of Bromley CND) and John Spiers (former editor of Youth Against the Bomb) published a leaflet entitled HAVE YOU BEEN SELECTED FOR SURVIVAL? explaining the implications of the 'Spies for Peace' pamphlet.25
All this is but a partial chronicle of events which hit the press. We don't doubt that dozens — if not hundreds — of further versions of the pamphlet have been duplicated and widely distributed. We know of copies produced by shop stewards' committees, by other local CND groups and by groups of students up and down the country. We know of copies distributed in other market places, on the London underground, in docks, in bus depots, in mines, at Labour exchanges and in the senior common rooms of Universities from Dundee to Exeter. We know of door to door canvassing on housing estates, of brisk sales in pubs, and of Saturday afternoon distributions in busy shopping centres. There can scarcely be a factory, office, college or school, which has not seen a copy.

Never can a government's claim to keep secrets from its own people have been challenged so massively and so successfully. Never can a government have been so blatantly exposed as a conspiracy against the very people on whose behalf it allegedly governed.

1. April 14. 2. April 13. 3. Daily Telegraph, April 15. 4. April 15.
5. Daily Mail, April 16. 6. Evening News. April 15.
7. Daily Herald, April 16. 8. Daily Mail, April 16. 9. Daily Herald, April 16.
10. Daily Mail. April 16. 11. Daily Mail, April 16. 12. The Guardian, April 18.
13. Evening Standard, April 20. 14. Peace News, May 3. 15. April 14.
16. Daily Sketch, April. 17. ibid. 18. April 18. 19. Daily Herald, April 20.
20. April 20. 21. April 20. 22. Evening Standard, April 22.
23. Daily Mail, April 23. 24. Evening Standard, April 22.
25. Copies may be obtained (25/- per 1,000) from 33 Hamilton Rd., Bromley, Kent.