Unfit For Office?


THOSE SHOCKED TO DISCOVER that unnamed British civil servants have briefed The Times on Jeremy Corbyn’ “mental and physical frailty”, shouldn’t be. Corbyn is merely the Leader of the Opposition. In 1936, the British civil service, instructed to spy on their own sovereign, King Edward VIII, did not refuse. The explanation for civil servants’ willingness to intercept the telephone calls of the reigning monarch is the same as for their willingness to brief against the Opposition leader to the Murdoch press. In both cases, the targeted individuals were considered “unfit for office”.

In the period between Edward VIII’s ascension to the British throne on 20 January 1936, and his abdication on 11 December that same year, the Conservative Government of Stanley Baldwin, advised by the civil service mandarins of Whitehall, were gravely concerned that the King’s infatuation with Wallis Simpson, and his determination to over-ride their objections and make her Queen, might lead him throw in his lot with Oswald Mosely and the British Union of Fascists (BUF) – thereby staging what might be described as a “Royal Coup”.

Had King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy not done something very similar in 1922? When confronted with the fascist “March on Rome” did he not, acting without the sanction of the country’s elected government, appoint Benito Mussolini Prime Minister? Making Mrs Simpson Queen-Empress of the British Empire might strike Mosely as a very modest quid-pro-quo for the keys to No. 10 Downing Street.

Baldwin and his fanatically anti-communist Home Secretary, Sir John Simon, were only too aware of Mosely’s radical economic plans for fighting the Great Depression and putting the millions of unemployed back in work. The BUF leader had begun his career as a young and visionary Labour MP, leaving the party only after its hidebound leaders rejected his proto-Keynesian economic programme. Rejected by the Left, Mosely attempted (unsuccessfully) to get what he called “The New Party” off the ground. It was Hitler’s extraordinary success at restoring Germany to full employment that finally led him into the arms of the fascists.

The British Establishment’s deep concerns about the Heir Apparent were manifested in Edward’s father, King George V’s, decision to wiretap the phones at ‘Fort Belvedere’, the Prince of Wales’ private residence. The King and Baldwin were of one mind when it came to Mrs Simpson. Any stepping-back from the Church of England’s position on divorced persons, would signal the end of the moral order which justified the core institutions of the British Empire and underpinned its fearsomely unequal and class-ridden societies.

And, it wasn’t just the Prince of Wales’ “modern” morals the Establishment feared, it was equally concerned about his “modern” politics. Had he not declared, following a royal visit to an impoverished mining community and its abandoned colliery, that “something must be done”? Wasn’t he popular with working-class people for his easy familiarity with all his subjects? Long before Diana, the “People’s Princess”, Edward threatened to become the “People’s Prince”. The Prime Minister’s dismay upon being informed, in the months following Edward’s father’s death, that the new King had asked for, and participated in, a lengthy private discussion with Mosely at the house of a mutual friend, is easily imagined.

Such were the considerations that persuaded Baldwin and Simon, acting through the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Horace Wilson, to contact the General Post Office and order a wiretap to be placed on the King’s telephone conversations.

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In the words of the “Most Secret” memo, kept hidden in the Cabinet Office vaults for 80 years, and only made public in 2013:

“The Home Secretary asks me to confirm the information conveyed to you orally, with his authority by, by Sir Horace Wilson that you will arrange for the interception of telephone communications between Fort Belvedere and Buckingham Palace on the one hand and the Continent of Europe on the other.”

There can be little doubt that a more ambitious, and less louche, monarch than Edward VIII, could have caused a lot of trouble had he a mind to do so. That the new King failed to make the slightest use of the powerful political weapons that lay ready to hand in those fraught months between 20 January and 11 December 1936, preferring, in the end, to abdicate in favour of his brother, confirms – albeit in a very different way – the British Establishment’s assessment that he was “unfit for office” and in urgent need of replacement.

That senior members of the British civil service share a similar assessment of Jeremy Corbyn is in no way surprising. Corbyn and his allies are much more determined to change British society than Edward VIII ever was. Small wonder, then, that they are briefing against him to Rupert Murdoch’s most prestigious British newspaper, The Times. Planting the seeds early that, with careful nurturing, they clearly intend to harvest at the exact moment it becomes clear that Corbyn intends to be as good as his socialist word.

“Mr Corbyn is mentally and physically frail”, they will announce (with suitably doleful countenances) “He has, over the past month, been displaying increasing signs of dementia. That is why, with great reluctance, the civil service chiefs have advised Her Majesty that, in their professional opinion, the Prime Minister is unfit for office. The Queen is now considering that advice. Pending her decision, a State of Emergency has been declared and will remain in force for the next 30 days.”


  1. British military figures previously threatened a “coup” if Mr Corbyn were ever elected PM, and one wonders if some of the tory tactics in Parliament over Brexit have the subtext of delaying a general election.

    Corbyn, like Bernie Sanders in the US, has been remarkably consistent for many years in opposing foreign wars, demonstrating solidarity with the world’s oppressed, and fighting for social democratic solutions in the UK. So I guess from the British and Murdoch aristocracies world view that must seem to indicate mental problems!

    • That’s a terrible insinuation about the commonwealth’s head of state. But Chris, it happens that King Edward VIII was unfit for any office except maybe Hitler’s cheerleading team. The cabal against Labour leader Harold Wilson would have been much more fitting.

  2. The changes that Corbyn wants to usher in would be similar in scale to Jacinda actually doing something about the housing crisis and starting to address the changes that have made New Zealand a low wage economy.

    Were that to happen you would find similar leaks to the media and a general murmur of discontent from the business sector. In spite of her modest policy goals I believe this has already occurred. You may also recall that Helen Clark’s program of state house building was met with the winter of discontent and lead to the quick cancellation of that policy and the crisis in social housing we have today, though vastly accelerated by National.

    Corbyn as well as shaking the Neo-Liberal status quo (something NZ labour will not do), will also call out Israel on its occupation. Dangerous ideas like this need to be nipped in the bud and character assassination is an effective tool. It has also prevented him from holding the conservatives to account over austerity and their self serving Brexit antics.

    • It’s sobering to note that it took the election of Atlee in 1945 to push through the original British welfare state. What drove that was the hardship of the war and the return of servicemen who had fought for a better world, and we’re not prepared to give the reins back to the same class of entitled parasites. Yet here we are again ruled by entitled parasites.

  3. My dead relatives are speaking up here. Ma said that the establishment’s concern at the Prince of Wales’s concern for the poor and disadvantaged
    played a significant role in them wanting him out – they saw him as a political threat – and my late bro described Rupert Murdoch as the most evil man in the world – and that’s my right-wing bro.

  4. Let us not forget that the UK military threatened to intervene if Corbyn won the last election, Mike Pompeii has indicated that the US may already be intervening in the.next election, neutrality of the British public service…haha

  5. Nicely done again , Mr Trotter.

    Wonderful snapshot of history and allegory ( though grounded in historical facts ). Now we can see if that happened to the Monarch , who demonstrated that ‘ familiarity’ with the common touch , … we can see exactly what may happen , – if not certainly will happen to Corbyn.

    Incredible really, … though not surprising, … as history repeats over and over again. And yet it would not just be the Conservatives and Labours far right wingers, or the Murdoch press, – it would also be the London ‘Square Mile’.

    Corbyn will be in for a fight.

    Yet perhaps one saving grace is exactly BECAUSE history repeats ,… Corbyn ,… and a new form of Keynesianism may once more prevail… and therefore we should all be on the look out for just that sort of devious smearing campaign by vested interests against Corbyn.

    Excellent article , – again.

  6. Harold Wilson in the U.K ‘s last socialist government in 1974-76 came under similar pressures from the establishment.

    This from wikipedia.

    Alleged 1974 military coup plot
    On the BBC television programme The Plot Against Harold Wilson, broadcast on 16 March 2006 on BBC2, it was claimed there were threats of a coup d’état against the Wilson government, which was corroborated by leading figures of the time on both the left and the right. Wilson told two BBC journalists, Roger Courtiour and Barrie Penrose, who recorded the meetings on a cassette tape recorder, that he feared he was being undermined by MI5. The first time was in the late 1960s after the Wilson Government devalued the pound sterling but the threat faded after Conservative leader Edward Heath won the election of 1970. However, after a coal miners’ strike Heath decided to hold an election to renew his mandate to govern in February 1974 but lost narrowly to Wilson. There was again talk of a military coup, with rumours of Lord Mountbatten as head of an interim administration after Wilson had been deposed. In 1974 the Army occupied Heathrow Airport on the grounds of training for possible IRA terrorist action at the airport. However Marcia Williams (a senior aide and close friend of Wilson) asserted that the operation was ordered as a practice run for a military takeover or as a show of strength, as the government itself was not informed of such an exercise based around a key point in the nation’s transport infrastructure.[11]

  7. Gough Whitlam government in Ozzie, scrapped by Ozzie GG on overnight command from London.

    Prince Charles and others showed no suprise thus confining prior knowledge.

    It is a mistake to assume voting for a Govt gives it the power to govern.

  8. I considerate , Chris, some blousey model of perfect Englishness like Jacinda was of Kiwiness would have beaten the Conservatives at the last election of our mother country (yes, I said mother country). As I am, we’re always ready for suiting comfort over doing right — NZ indictment.

    There was a definite stop to Corbyn’s charms electorally. What is Labour truly about but turning up every decade and doing right and then going off for another ten years. Silly for Labourites to think different (as per our govt).

    Love how those pricks found, and were disgusted, their heart was in the Yertle the Turtle that was Jeremy Corbyn. And the Guardian… Christ!

  9. Bullshit final para/ conclusion, Chris. The only thing we have is realism. To fight the nonsense of so much talk. Unlike the Right we ‘know’ reality is on our side. They’re just pushing their privilege.

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