UK

Is Paul Mason’s parliamentary run a Trojan Horse for British intelligence?

Leaked emails raise serious questions about whether Paul Mason’s run for parliament is, in fact, part of a UK intelligence operation to destroy the anti-war left.

In a series of investigations, The Grayzone has exposed Paul Mason’s collusion with a British intelligence operative to disrupt, undermine and discredit the anti-war, anti-imperialist left in Britain and abroad.

Rather than comment directly on the shocking disclosures, Mason has resorted to boilerplate statements claiming that the leaked emails on which The Grayzone’s reporting is based “may be edited, distorted or fake.” At no point has he offered any detail on what has possibly been maliciously amended and/or forged, or how they were faked.

Mason has made no comment whatsoever on the failure of the bid he declared to run as a member of parliament for the Stretford and Urmston district in Greater Manchester. Just two weeks after he announced his campaign,  local Labour party chiefs eliminated him from the race for selection before the shortlisting stage was even complete. Apparently undeterred by his rejection, Mason is reportedly vying for candidacy in Camberwell and Peckham, a culturally diverse, politically radical, working class constituency.

The area where Mason has launched his latest campaign for office happens to be a political base for many of the antiwar activists, progressive politicians and trade unions listed in his now-notorious “mind map” of purported Russian and Chinese influence networks in Britain. And even as his public statements and political ambitions show every sign of being coordinated with – if not outright directed – by a high-ranking British intelligence operative, he still portrays himself as a principled man of the left.

Mason appears to have prepared his McCarthyite map for Andy Pryce, his main channel in the British intelligence services. In mid-March, Mason emailed his Foreign Office “friend” to boast of his handiwork, calling for “co-ordinated pushback” against all the actors named, and offering to talk Pryce through the planned attack in a “quiet place”. 

Now that Mason appears set on ingratiating himself with the very same elements he privately traduced as agents of the Kremlin, it is vital that his clandestine connection with Pryce receive the scrutiny it deserves.

Mason enlists British intelligence to “fight back” against critics in independent media

In many ways, Mason’s relationship with Pryce appears to be mutually beneficial – or at least, the former likes to think it is.

As The Grayzone’s investigations have revealed, Mason frequently approaches Pryce to identify adversaries, in the seeming hope that British intelligence possesses dirt on them, or could potentially unearth some. For example, on April 9th independent US journalist Michael Tracey attended a pro-NATO “anti-war” demonstration organized by Mason. Clearly annoyed by the presence of an adversarial journalist, Mason emailed Pryce stating, “I’d be interested to know who pulls his strings – and what reason he’s in the UK.” 

That same day, he also informed his “friend” in British intelligence of a “detailed attempt to smear Kyiv Independent by Putin proxy.” This referred to an article published by independent news organization MintPress, in which its staff writer Alan MacLeod outlined the Kyiv Independent’s funding by Western intelligence cutouts, including the National Endowment for Democracy, which was itself spun out of the CIA. 

Angered by MacLeod’s reporting, Mason asked his pal in the British Foreign Office, “how can we fight back?”

Pryce suggested the article should be ignored, as long as it got “no traction outside of useful idiots sharing it with one another.” If there was wider pickup, Kyiv Independent’s Western funders would issue statements expressing pride in supporting the organ, and hailing its editorial autonomy. Still, he added that he’d “come across MintPress before,” and would “look into them further.” 

Mason clearly wanted to see state action against MintPress, and had reason to believe it could be triggered by his intervention. Back in March, he similarly apprised his British intelligence source that Russian “proxies” – no doubt similarly referring to independent journalists and media platforms – were “reeling/hiding” and had moved off public platforms to private groups on encrypted chat platforms. Pryce assured him “there is something we can do” about their activities on WhatsApp, although Telegram and VK were “another matter”.

What that “something” was remains unclear, but official statements by British ministers on the activities of the Government Information Cell and Counter Disinformation Unit – two shadowy entities to which Pryce is linked – indicate that the British security state is in direct contact with major social media and tech platforms, providing direction on what content and voices should be censored. 

Pryce has privately boasted of his role in compelling YouTube to ban Russian state media output in Britain. It would be entirely unsurprising if WhatsApp parent Meta is likewise subject to direct British security state lobbying to crack down on dissent.

MintPress also appears in the network map provided to Pryce. As such, it is reasonable to ask whether Mason’s maligning of MintPress as a “Putin proxy” played any direct or indirect role in PayPal’s decision this May to terminate the outlet’s account. 

PayPal accounts belonging to MacLeod and Mnar Adley, the founder-and-director of MintPress, were also blocked without warning, explanation or recourse. Consortium News, another independent news outlet flagged by Mason for its critical coverage of NATO activities, and considered suspicious by Pryce, has suffered the same fate. 

Mason boasts of having “successfully cauterised” Jeremy Corbyn

The leaked emails offer numerous examples of Mason keeping Pryce thoroughly up to date on his left-busting activities. In some instances, Mason appears to have used his journalistic cover to gain access to leftist gatherings or private channels of communication and provide intelligence back to Pryce. 

On March 19th, Mason notified Pryce that based on discussions with his Labour party contacts, he was “convinced the entire political class is hopelessly in the dark” about the Ukraine conflict. “They have no sense of urgency about spending, new institutions, reprioritisation,” he wrote, and were “just waiting for it to go away.”

Message received on this [emphasis added],” Pryce salivated in response. “We are looking to go big on an issue later this week. Will make sure we try to brief a range of parliamentarians.” 

Fast forward to April 2nd, when Mason informed Pryce he had been invited to a peace conference in Madrid organized by Podemos, Spain’s upstart left-wing party and member of the country’s coalition government since 2019.

He noted that Podemos opposed arms shipments to Ukraine, and the party – along with “others in Europe” – “want the war over as quick as possible.” Mason declared that given alleged Ukrainian successes of late, this argument was “[blown] out of the water,” and could more serve as an “applicable pressure point on the left/pacifist naysayers in European governments.” Thus Mason provided a British intelligence officer with a proposed narrative to rebut the arguments of Western anti-war activists. 

Mason expressed an interest in attending the conference “as a lurker,” given that Corbyn would also be there. He then added a chilling postscript:

We have successfully cauterised [emphasis added] Corbyn/STW [Stop the War] – not a single Labour MP will touch them. We are building a trade union support demo for Ukraine next Saturday – and the naysayers are a map of Russian influence. If you’ve time for a pint next week we could swap notes.”

Though it is unclear who Mason meant by “we,” Pryce eagerly endorsed the suggestion of a “catch up”, hailing the update on Corbyn’s troubles as “good news!” Mason duly attended the Podemos peace conference on April 22nd, during which Corbyn was a widely-revered guest of honor. At lunchtime, he emailed Pryce, informing him that the “key theme” of the event was “no arms to Ukraine,” and “many European left parties” also present were pushing the “same agenda.” 

Mason had also learned of a “concerted push” to create a new Non-Aligned Movement among “global south countries opposed to sanctions.” True to form, he perceived the initiative not as a conglomerate of like-minded nations aggrieved by the impact of sanctions on Russia on their own economies, but as an insidious foreign-borne plot. 

“It’s very clear whose [sic] pushing it – all the voices I identify as distinctly aligned [sic] to, and probly [sic] altaling [sic – all taking?] money from, PRC [People’s Republic of China],” Mason theorized.

Pryce thanked his friend for the briefing, and offered “key points” for responding to the perspectives he encountered at the conference, and any potentially emergent Global South anti-sanctions movement – “which you will know already.” 

Pryce encourages Mason to challenge Conservatives ‘as disinfo’

Pryce’s background explains his elation at Mason’s claim to have “successfully cauterised” Jeremy Corbyn within the Labour Party.

From 2016 – 2019, Pryce managed the Foreign Office’s secretive Counter Disinformation and Media Development (CDMD) unit, which funded a number of dubious information warfare efforts. 

The CDMD’s most notorious venture was the Integrity Initiative, a covert information warfare effort staffed by military and intelligence veterans consisting of secret “clusters” of journalists, academics, pundits, politicians and security officials throughout Europe and North America. Until its cover was blown in late 2018, the Initiative unleashed a flood of black propaganda against the British state’s enemies at home and abroad.

In November that year,  the leaked Integrity Initiative files revealed Corbyn and his supporters as key domestic targets. Its activities represented just one strand of a wider blitzkrieg waged on Corbyn by the British deep state. In a remarkable interview with investigative journalist Matt Kennard in June, the former Labour leader revealed how MI5 and MI6 were core components in the establishment’s war on him.

Publicly, this typically took the form of on- and off-record briefings to mainstream media outlets, and targeted leaks, intended to frame Corbyn as a threat to national security, and potential collaborator with hostile intelligence services during the Cold War, designed to “deliberately undermine” his leadership and damage his chances of entering Downing Street. What further destabilization these actors got up to in secret is – and will likely forever be – unknown. 

Still, while no British intelligence official has ever been held accountable for this grotesque meddling in British democracy tThe Initiative’s parent charity, the Institute for Statecraft, was ultimately forced to publicly apologize for its role, as regulations governing state funding of charitable entities expressly prohibit recipient organizations from engaging in partisan political activity.

The Civil Service Code, which Pryce is duty bound to uphold, also precludes him from participation in national political activity. He has no compunction about providing parliamentary hopefuls such as Mason with extensive anti-government campaign strategy proposals, however.

On April 8th, Pryce informed Mason he’d “been thinking about how Labour need to change the conversation on economics,” and encouraged the veteran journalist to tackle the ruling Conservatives in the same way he himself counters supposed “disinformation.”

He proposed a “schwerpunkt” approach, referring to a military concept centered on achieving and maintaining a center of gravity on battlefields. The strategy should apply to messaging on issues related to public finance, in which Mason would variously “describe the comms tactics the Tories are using in landing disinfo,” “destroy individual credibility,” “expose the funding behind the Tory friendly think-tanks,” and lay bare “media exploitation, use of social media and Tory methods of campaigning, links of policy to donors, security risks.” 

“Through others, pressure social media companies (after the war this one!) to label Tory figures who lie consistently. Commission research to show out and out deflection and that they use the same 5D tactics as the Russians,” Pryce advocated. “I would be looking at stories on tax avoidance and fuel poverty. Links between energy donors and the tories next week. Both financial and personnel…Build a core team and wider volunteer team able to carry this out.”

Whatever one thinks of the current Conservative government, the role of an unelected, largely unknown and almost completely unaccountable intelligence operative in attempting to bring about its downfall is unquestionably subversive. As the existence of the Integrity Initiative demonstrated too, British intelligence has zealously applied the same techniques to destroy left-wing figures and groups.

“Thanks for the stuff on how to deal with Tories as disinfo,” Mason cheerily told Pryce in a detailed May 12th update on his activities. “Will try to operationalise it. I now think election is early 2024 as economic cycle is going to be awful for [the government].”

Did Pryce influence Mason’s decision to become a Labour lawmaker? And is he the only parliamentary Trojan Horse being managed by British intelligence? A letter Mason circulated to party members at the launch of his campaign in Stretford and Urmston touched on several lines of attack Pryce proposed in his April 8th email. Many of Mason’s public statements in the months since that email also echo Pryce’s talking points.If the Conservatives are swept from power, the government that replaces them will be far more amenable to the security state’s interests.

As The Grayzone has documented, Labour leader Keir Starmer is intimately tied to the security and intelligence services on both sides of the Atlantic. With Boris Johnson now gone, a Tory leadership election ongoing, and the prospect of a General Election, British intelligence has much to look forward to – and its covert conflict on Corbyn clearly continues apace, courtesy of Paul Mason.

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