Page 1, 25th March 1948

25th March 1948
Page 1
Page 1, 25th March 1948 — Communists in the Civil Service

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Organisations: Communist Party, Civil Service


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Communists in the Civil Service


Facts On is The Purge Is Based

The anti Communist purge is not a mere precaution against what Communists in Government service might or might not do. It is a measure made necessary by past experience of inside information leaking out to the Communist Party.


By Douglas Hyde

The Government's decision to move Communist civil servants from positions of trust was based, not on what such people might do, but on what is already known to be happening.

This is the answer to those who are genuinely troubled at what appears on the surface to be a departure in principle from accepted British traditions.

Many who are by no means Communist feel that the basic objection to this latest Government move is that individuals are being punished in advance for what they may, in fact, never do.

Communist propagandists and the Party's Press are already likening it to the pre-war Japanese legislation against " dangerous thoughts."

Yet the Communist Press could, if it wished, itself provide the answer to those with doubts.

For the fact is that many Communist civil servants have, as loyal party members, always made a point of passing on information which they felt would be useful to the party leaders.

No one knowing the character and composition of the party would expect them to behave otherwise.

Members of the Government, watching the columns of the Daily Worker, have seen there on a number of occasions facts and figures which could only have come from inside sources. This has been particularly true in the case of industrial and economic information.

Aspects of Communist economic policy and forecasts about the future of various industries, for example, indicated to those who were in a position to know that information which should be known only to Ministers and civil servants was going astray.


Details of impending switches in the Governments industrial policy made necessary by the capital expenditure cuts were quite obviously known to Communist headquarters before they were revealed in the House, or to the general public.

A case in point was when the Daily Worker published a story revealing the number of building workers likely to be displaced by the Government cuts.

The Government hoped that those displaced would be automatically absorbed into other industries with the minimum of inconvenience and hardship.

But the Daily Worker's premature disclosures created considerable consternation among building workers, who feared that they might find themselves unemployed at an early date.

" Intelligent forecasts" of progress made in trade talks with foreign Powers and of the Government's intentions in relation to them have carried the hall-marks of something more than skilful journalistic guesses.

In fact, there have been occasions when the Government's task has been made difficult by the fact that too many of its own cards were already in the hands of those with whom it was bargaining.

Similar leakages under still more serious conditions could, of course, have had much more far-reaching consequences.

The number of civil servants actually affected by the new moves is very email. The idea that " the Civil Service is riddled with Communists" has little foundation in fact.

But one keen, active party member, even in a very subordinate position, can create the impression of large numbers at work.

INTERNAL MEMORANDA Confidential internal memoranda sometimes circulate quite freely in Government offices and a single secretarial worker may be able to pass on a very great deal of important information.

There are, of course, a few Communists occupying important positions of trust and who may also logically be expected to behave in much the same way.

Those responsible for such activities rarely, if ever, feel themselves to be betraying confidences. Loyalty to the Party and an earnest desire to assist it in its fight are their motives As Communists, they feel they should pass on anything which may he of assistance to the cause

In this sense any "'good " Communist in a position where the obtaining of information is a possibility will feel in honour bound to keep a watchful eye on the Party's interest.

No " hush hush" organisation is required and none exists. The most useful people are those who. subordinating all else to their political loyalties act quite spontaneously and with no sense of guilt.

There would appear to be little danger that the " purge " will get out of hand, so long as it is in the hands of the present Government. which depends so much upon the support of the Trade Unions.

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