Homophobia,  Labour,  The Left

Tatchell, Mandelson and the GDR

ConservativeHome – would you believe – has a very interesting article about two Peters: Tatchell and Mandelson, and their encounters with the German Democratic Republic, written by Tory MP and frontbencher Greg Hands:

Published and unpublished information in various East German archives has in recent years been of some embarrassment to British politicians, and not all of the Labour Party. The GDR kept substantial files on a surprisingly large number of influential people in Britain.

Few emerge with much credit. One Leftist who did was Peter Tatchell. According to the archives of SAPMO (die Stiftung der Partei und Massenorganisationen der DDR), now housed at the Bundesarchiv, there were many British left-wing visitors to the 1973 Weltfestspiele (World Festival Games) in East Berlin, and the Stasi were hard at work ingratiating themselves. One Leftist who, the archives record (SAPMO/FDJ DY 2/11333), did not please their hosts was one Peter Tatchell. Tatchell was decried for his support for “bourgeois democratic rights” and the hosts recorded that “the group of homosexuals, under Peter Tachel (sic), claimed to have been discriminated against at the Weltfestspiele and spread insults about the FDJ (Free German Youth, East German youth movement) and the GDR”. His Wikipedia entry records, (from the “Gay Marxist” magazine, 1973, seemingly not online) that he was also beaten up by other deelgeates and had his leaflets burned, but I cannot directly verify this.

Contrast this for a moment with what the same archives (of the East German “Free German Youth” or FDJ, part of SAPMO) record about one Peter Mandelson. Mandelson, when he was Chairman of the British Youth Council (BYC) between 24th and 29th February 1980 welcomed a delegation from the FDJ to Britain. The BYC organised a tour (from document DY 24/11333 Zusammenarbeit mit Jugendorganisationen aus, u.a. GB 1979-80) for their East German visitors, at least one of which was a Stasi operative, to “historic Shropshire”, including the birthplace of the industrial revolution (presumably Ironbridge). Mandelson’s name appears at the bottom of a joint communique agreeing to “strengthen relations between the BYC and the FDJ” and in which the BYC spoke “for defending the achievements of detente and against a return to the Cold War and arms race”. The file records proudly that “there were open discussions on current problems of international relations, questions of co-operation between youth in socialism and capitalism, and their work in their respective countries”.

Read more…