The secretive US embassy-backed group cultivating the British left
The British-American Project (BAP), set up in the 1980s with US embassy funding amid CIA concern about ‘anti-American’ drift in the Labour Party, recently added senior Labour politicians to its secret membership rolls, Declassified can reveal.
Labour shadow minister Alison McGovern, who joined the British-American Project last month, with Labour leader Keir Starmer, 26 September 2022. (Photo: Keir Starmer/Twitter)
- BAP cultivates pro-American political positions among the British left and includes numerous figures critical of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership
- Labour MP Rushanara Ali sits on group’s advisory board alongside former MI6 chief Sir John Sawers
- US embassy hosts new fellows at an annual event that has been attended by ex-CIA director
- Former Labour MP tells Declassified someone “working with the CIA” tried to recruit her to BAP
- Benjamin Zephaniah says he was “duped” by group after being recruited at Hay Literary Festival
- Many senior UK military officers have been members of BAP, with two joining this year without the knowledge of Ministry of Defence
- Group’s funders have included BAE Systems and BP
Three senior Labour politicians have recently joined a secretive lobby group which was set up in coordination with the US embassy in London to cultivate the British left, it can be revealed.
Four senior members of Boris Johnson’s administration were also made fellows this year while working inside the UK government.
The British-American Project (BAP) describes itself as “a transatlantic fellowship of over 1,200 leaders, rising stars and opinion formers from a broad spectrum of occupations, backgrounds and political views.” But the group does not formally disclose its funders or members.
Work to create the BAP began in the early 1980s when Labour was headed by Michael Foot, the first non-Atlanticist Labour leader to emerge since World War Two. The BAP’s aim was to push British progressives into a pro-American political position at a time when the CIA was worried about the strength of the Labour left and its ‘anti-American’ views.
Many Labour figures who became outspoken critics of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership from 2015-20 have also been involved in the BAP. Corbyn was the first non-Atlanticist Labour leader since Foot resigned in 1983.
The Guardian has written that the BAP was the “brainchild” of US President Ronald Reagan and “the political equivalent of the Freemasons” and that “even its supporters joke that it’s funded by the CIA”.
Investigative journalist Paul Foot, writing in Private Eye, compared the BAP to “CIA front organisations” set up in the 1960s “to promote ‘sensible’ elements in British Labour”.
“Do not post any photos of BAP conference on your personal social media.”
The group adds 50 fellows every year, half from the UK and US, who are paid expenses to be delegates at its annual conference. After that members pay $300 a year to stay part of it.
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