By Julian Lewis
Freedom Today – December 1990
CND has appointed the former National Organiser of the British branch of the World Peace Council (WPC) as its new General Secretary – the position held by Bruce Kent when leading CND in the early 1980s. Mr Gary Lefley, who takes up CND's top full-time salaried post in the new year, can accurately be described as an agent of President Brezhnev's propaganda machine at the height of the Soviet "peace offensive" against NATO's planned deployment of cruise and Pershing II missiles.
Writing in the Stalinist monthly paper Straight Left in May 1982, Lefley declared:
"Every American President whose surname begins with 'R' has died in office. Reagan arrives in Britain on June 7th amidst speculation that he plans to take the rest of us with him ... the USA's sober, if somewhat begrudging acceptance of detente succumbed to a drunken vision of the entire world bowing to the US dollar ... It is not the Warsaw Pact which is threatening to bring down the final curtain on Europe. In fact the USSR has guaranteed that it will never under any circumstances use nuclear weapons against a nuclear weapon-free country and has offered to enter into treaties to that effect. Quite an offer, given that the Soviet Union has never welshed on any treaty obligation in its 65-year history. No, rather it is our membership of NATO which involves us in plans to initiate global war." [Emphasis added]
Lefley wrote these comments in his capacity as National Organiser of the British Peace Assembly, a Communist front body committed by Section 11(5) of its constitution to "the promotion and support of peace initiatives of the World Peace Council". It is, in fact, the British branch of the World Peace Council – a Kremlin-controlled propaganda body which backed every ruthless case of Soviet aggression and repression in the pre-Gorbachev years.
Unlike the British Communist Party, the WPC had no qualms about supporting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan at the end of 1979. In 1981 its President, the Indian Communist Romesh Chandra, spelt out its stance at the Soviet Party Congress:
"Peace has been the banner of the Soviet state from the moment of its birth,"
"When people are fighting for peace and a new life, the Soviet Union is invariably standing by their side."
For more than 20 years, until it stopped publishing such lists, the World Peace Council featured on the Labour Party's annually issued List of Proscribed Organisations. As long ago as 1955, the veteran pacifist Donald (later Lord) Soper wrote in Tribune, that he was "quite satisfied that the WPC and the British Peace Committee" – a forerunner of the British Peace Assembly – "are primarily organs of Russian propaganda".
In February 1981, the WPC had to withdraw its application to the UN Economic and Social Council for Category I Consultative Status after a devastating attack by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office:
"The grand facade of the World Peace Council is no more substantial than a Hollywood film set ... It is the belief of the United Kingdom delegation that the true objective of the World Peace Council is a one-sided effort to promote disarmament in those countries of the world where public opinion is capable of affecting defence policies and expenditure levels, while Governments which are immune from public pressure continue to build up their military strength. The World Peace Council is a disguised instrument of one country's [the USSR's] foreign policy. It is a wolf in sheep's clothing and its clothing has begun to look very threadbare." (ECOSOC Report, 16th March 1981, emphasis added)
Yet, in July that year, Gary Lefley was striving to tie CND more closely to the WPC and its British branch.
"The task is to actively counter anti-Sovietism within the CND and thereby strengthen the unilateralist movement,"
he explained in Straight Left.
"The British Peace Assembly has set itself this task ... as a national affiliate to the World Peace Council, the BPA is in effect the international complement to CND."
He also praised "proposals made by Brezhnev in February " adding that copies of these "are now available from Bruce Kent".
At this time, however, CND was anxious to conceal its links with the Soviet-controlled 'peace' machine. For example, Bruce Kent attacked Lord Chalfont for having stated in Parliament in July 1981 that in most anti-nuclear movements
"it is not difficult, if you look far enough, to identify the hand of the World Peace Council".
Though Kent gloated that Lord Chalfont had
"failed to produce any evidence which would connect us [the CND] with the World Peace Council",
internal CND documents later proved that there were numerous contacts between CND and the WPC's Soviet and East European branches.
Lefley stood unsuccessfully for election to the Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) at its 38th Congress in November 1983 – the same Congress at which Bruce Kent notoriously described Britain's Communists as CND's
"partners in the cause for peace in this world".
At a London district CPGB Congress the previous year, Lefley had declared that:
"a non-aligned Britain could prove the decisive factor in the balance of world forces in favour of socialism"
– socialism being a euphemism for Communism in this context. Lefley's name was also on a British Peace Assembly press release dated 5th May 1982 following the Argentinian invasion of the Falklands. This denounced British moves to liberate the islands as a
"return to aggressive colonialism which world opinion will most certainly reject".
The appointment of Gary Lefley should be seen in the context of CND's decline. In the 1970s, before its revival, CND was chaired by a Communist, John Cox, for six years in succession. CND's recent annual conference elected no fewer than 3 Communists to its four Vice-Chairmanships, though one of these quietly gave up his CPGB membership last year.
No doubt Gary Lefley will seek to distance himself from his disgraceful record as a fellow-traveller for Brezhnev who gave his name to the Brezhnev Doctrine – the claimed right of the Soviet Union to perpetuate Communist regimes in power in other countries by the use of force if necessary. This may explain why a full-page curriculum vitae, distributed by CND, failed to mention its new General Secretary's close involvement with the BPA and the CPGB.
Before the 1983 General Election, CND published a list of 120 Labour MPs amongst its members. This total had risen to 133 by the time of the 1987 General Election. Currently, CND refuses to reveal either the total or the names of their supporters in the Parliamentary Labour Party. This is undoubtedly because it would run counter to Labour's attempts to conceal its continuing unilateralism.
Now that the organisation is to be run by a propagandist for the Brezhnev regime, there is yet another reason for Labour's CND MPs to keep their membership a secret.
[For former CND Chairman Marjorie Thompson's September 1999 denunciation of Gary Lefley and other Communists in the anti-nuclear movement, click here.]