British civilian Labour MP and minister, 1945-1974 and Liberal MP, 1974-1981; became Baron Mayhew of Wimbledon, 1981 and served as Liberal defence spokesman in the House of Lords.
REEL 1: Aspects of period in GB, 1915-1939: family background; political activity during undergraduate studies at Christ Church College, Oxford, 1934-1937: reason for setting up Oxford University Democratic Socialist Group; attitude toward the Soviet Union during the 1930s; story of first visit to Soviet Union, 1935; changing opinion of Soviet regime; various memories of Wilfred and Anthony Blunt. Aspects of period in GB, 1939-1945: problem of anti-war communists while Labour Party candidate in constituency of South Norfolk, 1939-1940; attitude of Labour Party to Soviet Union at end of Second World War; opinion of Churchill, Attlee and Ernest Bevin. Aspects of period in GB, 1945-1992: appointed Deputy Foreign Secretary, 1946; role in formation of Information Research Department (IRD), 1947; Russian propaganda and counter-propaganda; support from senior figures in Labour Party; importance of secrecy; personnel; methods of information gathering and distribution; key speeches; references to Soviet Gulag system; distribution of material to trades unions.
REEL 2 Continues: further comments on distribution of material; communist threat in GB; problem of funding; publications; staff of IRD; story of appointment and sacking of Guy Burgess with Information Research Department; question of Russian knowledge of IRD; comparison with American situation and role of CIA; Russian propaganda offensive and counter measures taken; origins of Cold War in Russia; description of British ideological offensive, 1947-1949 and continuation by US; attitude to ethical issues; conflict of views with ambassadors in Soviet Union and Eastern Europe; attitude to emergence of independent India and Pakistan; attitude to closure of IRD, 1977 and government use of misinformation; reasons for view that West has won the Cold War; importance of IRD in the 1940s; role in cultural Cold War since 1954; story of trip to Russia, 1954; attitude to influence of British Marxists on Russians; role of British Council's Soviet Relations Committee; opinion of bureaucratic cultural exchanges.
REEL 3 Continues: attitude to increasing cultural relations between GB and Soviet Union; description of various visits to Russia and cultural exchanges; amusing story of visit to the Bolshoi; reason for discouraging contact between British Marxists and visiting Russians; improvement in cultural relations; importance of cultural exchanges in helping to end Cold War.