When MI-5 Spied on and Plotted to Overthrow a British Prime Minister.

Adebayo Adeniran
4 min readMay 17, 2021

It all seemed much too good to be true.

Harold Wilson via Wikimedia Commons

Back in 1988, a very popular novel was adapted for the British screen, titled: “A very British coup”. The plot was about a fictional left wing prime minister, whose government was being destabilized by the secret services. This novel was written by a former Labour member of Parliament — Chris Mullin — who came up with the idea, during the deputy leadership contest of 1981, when Anthony Neil Wedgwood Benn, a renounced aristocrat and born again socialist ran for office.

Only in this case, the overthrow of a left wing government, was much more than the figment of a writer’s imagination; It was something that Britain came quite close to in the dark days of the late 1960s and the 1970s.

As I have written in great detail, in a few of my previous articles, the British economy tanked especially badly in the 1960s and 70s, under the premiership of Wilson (64–70), Heath (70–74),Wilson (74–76) and Callaghan (76–79) with the three day week, going off to the International Monetary Funds for a loan, devaluation of sterling and the unions, bringing the country to its knees, over the course of a very cold winter.

Harold Wilson, had confided in two BBC journalists — Barrie Penrose and Roger Courtiour of his concerns, of being spied on and his government undermined by the security services in the late 60s, in the aftermath of the devaluation of the pound.You could argue that it was all rather gentlemanly, when compared to the United States, where, the approach of blowing a president’s brains out, was taken, instead.

But these claims weren’t necessarily taken seriously, at the time. Subsequent events, however, countenanced the views of the late British premier, of the secret service, keeping a file and bugging the devices of Mr. Wilson, as well as using propaganda in spreading misinformation that the head of government and his secretary were employees of the Soviet KGB and IRA sympathizers.

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Adebayo Adeniran

A lifelong bibliophile, who seeks to unleash his energy on as many subjects as possible