Sir Joseph Ball: From MI5 to the Conservative Party

The Conservative leadership used homophobia to keep anti-fascist MPs in line during the 1930s, according to a forthcoming account by Labour MP Chris Bryant.  The BBC has some intriguing details:
In  the course of researching his book, Mr Bryant found evidence that Mr  Chamberlain boasted to his sisters that he knew everything the rebels  were up to.
And  Sir Joseph Ball, head of the Conservative Research Department at the  time, bought the magazine Truth to attack the prime minister's critics.
In  his diaries, Mr Nicolson recalls the magazine describing him as having  "the mincing manner of a French salon, that I lack virility and should  retire from public life".
Ball is a particularly interesting figure for reasons which aren't mentioned in the BBC article, although I suspect they may feature in Bryant's book, The Glamour Boys: The Secret Story of the Rebels who Fought for Britain to Defeat Hitler.
The official history of MI5 records that Ball joined the Conservative Party in 1927 because of low pay in the Security Service where he had been head of investigations. Author Christopher Andrew suggests that he was a prime candidate for involvement in the Zinoviev Letter, a notorious piece of anti-Labour propaganda which emerged from the security services in the run-up to the 1924 election.
Like the career of Maxwell Knight, Ball's role is a window into a miliieu that linked MI5, The Conservatives and the pro-fascist right in the 1930s. Ironically, this was arguably a factor in MI5's ability to roll-up domestic right-wing subversion during the Second World War.






One response to “Sir Joseph Ball: From MI5 to the Conservative Party”

  1. Tom Dibley avatar
    Tom Dibley

    My Grandmother (Nana) was housekeeper for Sir Joseph and latterly Alan Ball at The Mill in Ramsbury, during the 50’s and 60’s.

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