How they swung it
The CIA did fund the European Movement; and they the Conservatives
We print below excerpts from a transcript of the BBC Radio 4 programme transmitted at 8 pm, Thursday 3rd February 2000 entitled "Document: A Letter to the Times".
This programme told the story of how opinion was swung in the early '70s in favour of Britain entering the European Economic Community, including how the BBC and ITN news programmes were influenced to support the campaign for Europe. It also reveals that the European Movement and other organisations received substantial hidden funding from the CIA.
Points made included:
Back at the start of the 1970s, the greatest issue of the day was whether Britain ought to become European... and had you been scanning the correspondence columns of The Times you might have noticed a flood of letters in support of our application to join the EEC. A good many of those letters were stage managed on behalf of the then Conservative government.
Every week, as Edward Heath's government inched Britain towards Europe, Geoffrey Tucker, an advertising guru who helped to market the Conservative Party, organised breakfasts for the political shakers and the media movers of the day. Journalists were there and captains of industry, editors too and television people.
Ernest Wistrich's European Movement was the natural organisation to front the public campaign for Europe.
Tucker: We decided to pinpoint the Today programme on radio and followed right through the news programmes during the day the television programmes, News at Ten, 24 Hours and Panorama and from radio, World at One and Woman's Hour.
Tucker: Nobbling is the name of the game. Throughout the period of the campaign, there should be direct day by day communication between the key communicators and our personnel, e.g. Norman Reddaway at the FCO and Marshall Stewart of the Today programme.
And in 1970, the Today programme was presented by Jack De Manio... who was terribly anti-European. We protested privately about this. Ian Trethowan listened and De Manio was replaced.
Presenter, Christopher Cook: Ian Trethowan was then the Managing Director of BBC Radio and a known friend of Edward Heath's. Another of Geoffrey Tucker's breakfast guests was Roy, now Lord, Hattersley, a leading figure in the pro-European faction in the Labour Party.
Lord Hattersley: The one breakfast I went to was a very chummy affair. We were all fighting the European cause to the extent that some of the protagonists actually drew Ian Trethowan's attention to broadcasters who they thought had been anti-European, and asked him to do something about it.
Now, I was so shocked that I decided I couldn't go again. It sounds terribly prissy, but it really did shock me at the time and, frankly, remembering it shocks me still.
Sir Edward Heath, Prime Minister, 1970-1974: The support in public opinion polls steadily mounted until we got to the point of finally concluding negotiation we had just on 50 per cent support which was very considerable.
Presenter: How helpful was the European Movement?
E. Heath: Very helpful. They worked very hard and they received funds from supporters which enabled them to publish their own literature as well as ours.
Dr Richard Aldrich (Political Historian) on being asked what was the documentary evidence for the alleged CIA funding: I was absolutely astonished to discover that the library (George Town University in Washington) had the entire archive of a CIA front organisation which documents from start to finish funnelling millions of dollars into Europe, into Britain, with correspondence, for example, from British Labour MPs.
The whole accounting structure of the European Movement was designed to hide the fact that CIA money was coming in.
Hattersley on being asked for his comments: All those years, all the Europeans would say "let's not risk trying to make fundamental changes by telling the whole truth, let's do it through public relations rather than real proselytising" and they were always inclined to "spin" the arguments rather than "expose" the argument.
Presenter: And that clearly, in your view, was clearly the wrong approach.
Hattersley: not only was it wrong for us to deal superficially with what Europe involved, but we've paid the price for it ever since, because every time there's a crisis in Europe, people say, with some justification, "well, we wouldn't have been part of this if we'd really known the implications".
Joining the European Community did involve significant loss of sovereignty, but by telling the British people that was not involved, I think the rest of the argument was prejudiced for the next 30 years.
We thank the British Data Management Foundation for permission to quote from their transcript.