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Zinoviev letter

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A guide to
U.K. Politics
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God Save the Queen?

The Zinoviev letter was a famous example of conservative deceit, which in 1924 enabled Britain's Conservative Party to cheat their way to a general election victory.

In October 1924 MI5 intercepted a letter written by Grigory Zinoviev, chairman of the Comintern in the Soviet Union. In the letter Zinoviev urged British communists to promote revolution through acts of sedition.Wikipedia's W.svg They thought it was genuine, and Vernon Kell, head of MI5, showed the letter to Ramsay MacDonald, the Labour Prime Minister. It was agreed that the letter should be kept secret but "someone" leaked news of the letter to two right-wing newspapers, who went to press on the letter four days before the election. The ensuing red scare cost Labour its victory. It was later claimed that the letter was forged by two MI5 agents, and that Major Joseph Ball, also of MI5, leaked it. Ball later went on to be one of the earliest spin doctors — for the conservatives.

It is currently believed (after extensive research by Gill Bennett) that the letter was forged in Latvia by anti-communist exiles, in order to wreck a trade agreement between Britain and the new Communist state. The Conservatives, once elected, declined to ratify the treaty.

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