Died aged 70 at Chichester, West Sussex on October 12, 1995.
Long gone, Gerald Ian Greig has faded in the consciousness of many but he played his part in maintaining an obsessive rabid anti-communism that poisoned political life in Britain. A sympathetic obituary noted, “Greig was identified by those unsympathetic to his views as a fully paid up member of the ”reds under the bed” school of thought.” His professional life ending as Deputy Director of the Foreign Affairs Research Institute, a right-wing “think tank” policy group that focused on the communist threat, and his written output would only substantiate that characterisation.
Born in West London, October 26, 1924, he travelled the route of public school, army, and political journalism familiar in many upper middle class life stories. [i]
In 1942, upon leaving the incubator of Chandos House at Stowe independent school in Buckingham, Greig was commissioned at the age of 18 in a cavalry regiment seeing service in Holland after the D-Day landings. He remained in the Army after the war and time spent in Palestine was said to have stimulated “his lifelong fascination with terrorism and its methods.”
After a spell as a Conservative constituency, he went into journalism. His informal political contacts were on the right of Britain’s political right. Much of his written output under the name ‘Ian Greig’ had sources drawn from a reading of public documents and statements published by communists, what is described as “official reports of western Governments” (including the briefing reports of the small circulation newsletters) and “the statements of defectors who actually took part in the events described”.
In 1961 he was a founding organiser of the Monday Club, a hard right pressure group, separate organisational from the Conservative Party but populated with its members, and others from the Far Right. The thirty-six year old Greig served as Membership Secretary until 1969.
The Monday Club was a reaction (and reactionary), dubious about the rapid decolonisation of Africa foreshadowed in Macmillan’s ”wind of change” speech to the South African Parliament, which illiberal Tories saw as the last straw. The club stated that Macmillan had “turned the Party Left” and attracted Conservatives who looked for leadership to the Marquis of Salisbury.
They were in that racist colonialist way disparaging about the former colonies’ ability to rule themselves satisfactorily and worried about the opportunities this offered the communists to further their strategic aims. Ian Greig’s Monday club opposed what it described as the “premature” independence of Kenya, and the breakup of the Central African Federation, which was the subject of its first major public meeting in September 1961. It was fundamentally opposed to decolonisation, and defended white minority rule in South Africa and Rhodesia. Or as the obit in the Glasgow Herald politely put it: The group published papers on South Africa and Rhodesia and remained well disposed to the Smith regime after it declared UDI in 1965.
The soft-pedalling of Greig’s opinions continued with a reference that:
Certainly he shared the views of those like retired General Sir Frank Kitson that more should be done to prepare the armed forces to cope with terrorism.
In fact Ian Greig was a former Senior Executive of the Institute for the Study of Conflict,[ii] a right-wing propaganda group established by Brian Crozier in 1970. It ran until 1989 and produced a series of reports on terrorism, guerrilla war, union activism and other topics. Institute offered professional and authoritative-sounding analyses, both for the general public and for more specialised audiences of academics, policy makers, police officials, and military commanders. It provided respectability to right-wing and repressive policies, primarily through its dissemination of academic presented studies.[iii] It also developed connections with other right-wing organisations and offered training on ‘subversives’ to police and the military.
His life was spent around the networks of power, lobbying, public relations and the communications activities that operate as keyboard warriors in the shadows, away from accountability the various “think tanks” of AIMS and Common Cause and others were outlets for his work. Greig’s prolific published themes reflected the anxieties of a section of the western political class as seen in an incomplete bibliography of books and briefings compiled from Foreign Affairs Publishing – postal address one-time above the shops at Arrow house, 27-31 Whitehall, SW1A 2BY. These were reviewed in foreign affairs journals, bought by the university’s libraries (see Trinity College Library Dublin) and included on undergraduate reading lists even today, and of course, digitalised.
The first to gain attention was The Assault on The West published in 1968 / 14 editions published between 1968 and 1974 in English and Chinese (Taipei: Youth Cultural Enterprise (1974))
Greig’s book The Assault on the West (1968) spelled out the dangers which he believed insufficiently alert western democracies faced from expansionist Communism aided by those engaged on internal subversion. It carried an approving preface by a close friend of Sir Alec Douglas-Home who shared his political views on the dangers of Communist expansion.
Sir Alec Douglas-Home (1903 -1995), served as Foreign Secretary then Prime Minister from October 1963 to October 1964. Narrowly defeated in the 1964 UK general election, Douglas-Home resigned the party leadership in July 1965. Noted for his forcefully expressed anti-communist beliefs, Home’s description of it as “a careful and detailed analysis of the multifarious ways in which they deal in subversion” reflects the cold war mentality that there was only one side as the problem. The focus on a grand narrative of expansion and subversion discounted western policies, the rhetoric of roll back and containment, and actions that created conditions for international mistrust and tension. The imperialist self-interest in his anti-communist crusading was subtly acknowledged:
The advertised aim of this “study of communist political warfare techniques [was] to present a general survey of the strategy and tactics employed by International Communism in its bid for world domination…..The main thrust of the communist offensive is now being centred upon attempts to gain control or influence over the developing countries of Asia, Africa and South America in which areas of the world the West’s vital sources of raw material lie.”
Work that followed reflected the angst of the age when resistance and liberation at home and abroad threatened the status quo, when linking arms and running down the Strand was an act of sedition.
Today’s Revolutionaries: a study of some prominent revolutionary movements and methods of sedition in Europe and the United States
14 editions published between 1970 and 1971 in 3 languages
Subversion: Propaganda, Agitation and the Spread of People’s War (1973)
5 editions published in 1973
The Communist Challenge to Africa: an Analysis of Contemporary Soviet, Chinese and Cuban Policies (1977) Foreign Affairs Publishing now Richmond, Surrey based. 26 editions published in 1977
Lord Chalfont’s endorsement in the book reflects part of the nexus of interlocking like=minded people and groups on the anti-communist landscape that sought to bolster and underpin the ideological authority that defended the West by attacking the East. He agrees that “many Western observers have come to the conclusion, reached some time ago by Chinese foreign policy experts, that the Soviet Union is engaged upon a programme of global expansion – that the Russians are, in effect, the new imperialists.” [A topic for a different posting]
According to the distorted and selective worldview of people like Greig, the West’s rush to decolonize left an open door for the world’s new colonizing super-power – Russia. When Russia and, to a lesser extent China, moved through that door, the stage was set for the chaos and bloodshed that has become part and parcel of life on the continent. Written to make it plain that “foreign Communism is using the “liberation” of Africa as a stepping stone to its self-proclaimed goal of world domination.” South Africa, South West Africa and Rhodesia are clearly obstacles on the way to this goal – obstacles that Moscow would very much like removed – which was why, in the face of the national liberation armed struggle such racist white minority rule was defended by so many in Greig’s Monday Club and beyond.
Greig’s dire warning continued in numerous articles, through the Foreign Affairs Research Institute newsletter and in East-West Digest, of the threat to the West. Throughout 1977 churning out
- East-West Digest: ‘Some recent developments affecting the defence of the Cape route’
- Foreign Affairs Research Institute paper: ‘Moscow’s control over Mozambique and Angola’.
- Foreign Affairs Research Institute paper: ‘Barbarism and communist intervention in the Horn of Africa’ by Ian Greig.
- Foreign Affairs Research Institute paper and East-West Digest: ‘The need to safeguard NATO’s strategic raw materials from Africa’.
- Foreign Affairs Research Institute paper: ‘The escalating Soviet and Cuban involvement in Africa’ by Ian Greig.
Africa: Soviet Action and Western Inaction (1978)
Iran and the lengthening Soviet shadow (1978)
The Ultra-Left Offensive Against Multinational Companies: Moscow’s Call for World Trade Union Unity (1979) 9 editions published between 1978 and 1980
The continuing crisis in Iran (1979) with James Philips
The security of Gulf oil (1980)
The need to respond to Soviet military pressure in the Third World (1980)
Soviet bloc activities in Africa (1980)
The emerging nature of the Soviet grand design (1980)
A new shadow falls on the Gulf (1981)
They mean what they say : a compilation of Soviet statements on ideology, foreign policy and the use of military force (1981) 7 editions published in 1981
East Germany’s continuing offensive in the third world (1982)
The extent of Soviet support for African “liberation movements” revealed: report to the Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 1982.
Soviet global power projection at the third world (1982)
The police under attack (1986) published by AIMs for Industry , an anti-trade union group , associated with Michael Ivens, in defence of free enterprise and freedom, publishers of the red scare material like Reds under the Bed, Aims of Industry (January 1974)
Terrorism: a brief survey of the extent and nature of the threat from terrorist groups in Europe [and] in the Middle East (1987) published by Common Cause
The Second World War and Northern Ireland (1990) published by Friends of the Union founded in 1986 by 16 Tory MPs and eight peers to maintain the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The organisation was wound up in 2006
Greig’s career across the gamut of right-wing causes marks him out as yesteryear’s shadow warrior upholding the Unionist cause, he wrote several pamphlets on Northern Ireland, some dealing with the influence of ultra-left groups.
[i] ) Ian Greig (Obituary), Glasgow Herald 4 November 1995.
[ii]) Its history and operations quite exposed, and studied eg Michaels, J. H. (2014). The Heyday of Britain’s Cold War Think Tank: Brian Crozier and the Institute for the Study of Conflict, 1970–79. In Transnational Anti-Communism and the Cold War (pp. 146-160). Palgrave Macmillan
iii) Including Bertil Haggman’s 1975, Sweden’s Maoist “subversives”: a case study. Conflict studies, no. 58
One thought on “Ian Greig (1924-1995)”
Interesting. I see there is a link to his exaggerated and factually incorrect obituary. Read my book “Seeking John Campbell: finding pioneers and patriots in the pampas” under the chapter ‘Isabel’ his wife.