Gay spooks

The only open gay in the village no longer. Nothing expresses the turn-round in public acceptance of gays better than the news that MI5 – including presumably its Holywood Co Down branch – is asking for Stonewall’s help in recruiting gays, in order ” better to represent all sections of society”.From the austere Financial Times, to the nowadays less socially conservative Daily Telegraph (which can’t resist the tongue in cheek ref to Matt Lucas’s character Daffydd), and even to the normally trog-like Sun, the reporting is fairly straight, so to speak. Times have changed dramatically since MI5 and MI6 were targeted by university Communists who were also homosexual members of the Cambridge Apostles society, Blunt and Burgess and also by the Labour politician Tom Driberg. The Apostles, a secret society of clever young men exploring on the edge of society were attracted to open homosexuality and Communism in the 30s, producing a toxic mix of disloyalty and personal concealment which did great harm to the cause of what we today we call gay rights. And not much good to further the interests of Communism either in that more naive age, if it comes to that.

The ban on gays in the security services was lifted inly in th early 1990s.

How Iris will react? We await with bated breath.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London