The Candidate’s Aide’s Briefing – Lesson 4 – Jeremy Thorpe

Jerermy Thorpe

You may have heard the story about Jeremy Thorpe and the hovercraft, but what about the one on the back of a land rover?!

As readers will know Jeremy Thorpe was the Liberal leader between 1967 and 1976.  His leadership ended rather abruptly but notwithstanding this two stories stand out about Jeremy, and moving vehicles, that form the last instalment of the candidate’s aide series.

As many will know Jeremy Thorpe conducted a tour by hovercraft along the south coast in the 1974 (I presume spring) general election.

The tour was certainly noticeable with Jeremy leaping from his craft in full three piece suit and trilby.  However, it ended in slight calamity when it burst.  I would recommend against hovercrafts as a means of transport in elections as they are much more subject to the elements than others.

I have a vague recollection of a by-election candidate using a canal boat to launch his campaign in the 1990s, which appeared sedate enough, but still managed to fall in the canal!

But a lesser known story of Jeremy Thorpe’s is a visit to South East Cornwall constituency, then called Bodmin, in 1966.

Peter Bessell, the local Liberal MP, campaigning hard to retain his seat employed an open topped Land Rover to tour the constituency and make impromptu speeches from the back.

It was a marvellous device, and has been used in many other areas since.

Arriving in a small moor land village on Bodmin Moor, travelling with Jeremy Thorpe, Bessell turned on the megaphone:

‘HELLO MINIONS,’ came the cry from Bessell.

Before he could continue Thorpe grabbed him by the arm.

‘I don’t think you can call them minions! Serfs perhaps?!’

The small village, called Minions, did not receive a lengthy visit from the pair.


Now Fidel Castro’s sister claims to have been a CIA agent…

According to Juanita Castro she was spying on Fidel for the CIA in Communist Cuba!

According to Juanita Castro she was spying on Fidel for the CIA in Communist Cuba!

Not content with the revelation that Benito Mussolini was an MI5 agent or that my dad was, according to the Fourth Protocol, an East German agent, it now appears that Fidel Castro’s sister, Juanita, was a CIA agent.

She joins the ranks of most unlikely CIA agents along with Peter Bessell MP.

Apparently she became discontented with the Communist revolution in Cuba and decided to cooperate with the Americans.

She left Cuba in 1964, to live in Mexico, but now lives in Florida, in a neighbourhood called Little Havana.

When she arrived in Mexico she announced that she had defected from Cuba. “I cannot longer remain indifferent to what is happening in my country,” she said. “My brothers Fidel and Raúl have made it an enormous prison surrounded by water. The people are nailed to a cross of torment imposed by international Communism.”

So to be fair it was quite clear for the past 45 years that she was not content with the Cuban Communist utopia, but an interesting tale that she helped the CIA, though clearly not very effectively!

You can read more about this in Monday’s Guardian.

Mussolini was an MI5 Agent, which Liberal MP was a CIA Agent?!

Mussolini was financed by MI5 according to new research

Mussolini was financed by MI5 according to new research

‘No more coals to Newcastle, no more Hoares to Paris,’ was how King George V welcomed Anthony Eden as the new Foreign Secretary following the news of Britain’s rejection of the Hoare-Laval Pact, which had sanctioned Italy’s annexation of Abyssinia, and effectively ended the authority of the League of Nations.

Samuel Hoare would now appear to have previous with Benito Mussolini. As well as being responsible for coining one of the King’s most memorable political quotations, he apparently financed Mussolini, then a journalist, paying him £100/week (the equivalent of £6,000/week in today’s money) to argue for Italy’s continued involvement in the First World War. Hoare, later the Foreign Secretary, was at the time Britain’s man in Rome.

Mussolini, who wished to maintain Italy’s involvement in the war, would use former soldiers to act as vigilantes against those who wished to see Italy withdraw from the war.

Within just a few short years Mussolini came to power as Italy’s fascist dictator, backed by his black shirts.

This reminds me of the stories surrounding Peter Bessell, the Liberal MP for Bodmin, who was apparently, according to his memoirs, both a CIA and BOSS agent during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.  You wonder quite what intelligence either of these two would have gathered for their paymasters!

More on this story about on Mussolini can be seen in The Guardian.