Robin writes to take issue with my recent post on James Angleton and the resignation of British Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson in 1974.
“Greetings from the UK. I co-wrote a book about “The Wilson plots’: Smear: Wilson and the Secret State. Of course we dealt with the Angleton fantasies about Harold Wilson. A number of points needed to be noted.
1. Angleton got all this nonsense from KGB defector [Anatoly] Gotlitsyn. Angleton was ‘played’ by Golitsyn who fed him material to aggravate his paranoia. It is not yet clear if this was Goltisyn simply playing defector games – telling his new masters what they wanted to hear – or a long-range effort by the KGB to destabilise Angleton.
2. While this baloney was believed a section of MI5, publicly identified with Peter Wright, most of MI5 and the rest of the British intelligence/security complex did not believe it.
3. Wilson resigned on his own timetable. He told his confidants within the Labour Party that he would retire when he reached 60. In his last period in office, 1974-76, he was visibly tiring and drinking a lot. A factor in his retirement was his fear that he would get what we now call dementia: it ran in his family.
4. Angleton and/or the British spooks did NOT make Wilson retire early.