CIA fears about 1980s Labour 'threat' revealed

Denis Healey
Image caption Denis Healey was accused in the papers of attacking US policies

The Labour Party is "in the hands of urban leftists given to ideological extremes with only fringe appeal".

That isn't an assertion about today's politics. It was the verdict of the US Central Intelligence Agency on Labour back in 1985, in a memo for the agency's director on the early phase of Neil Kinnock's leadership.

This memo is one of millions of the CIA's historical records which have just been made available online. Previously researchers had to actually visit the US National Archives in Maryland in order to access this database of declassified documents.

The records reveal the deep level of concern inside the CIA about the strength of the Left within Labour in the early 1980s, a political force which the agency regarded as anti-American.

Image copyright Martin Rosenbaum

A report written in the run-up to the 1983 general election states that "a Labor majority government would represent the greatest threat to US interests".

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New commissioner sets out FOI plans

Elizabeth Denham Image copyright ICO

The UK has already placed its monetary policy in the hands of a Canadian, the Bank of England governor Mark Carney.

Now it's going to fall to another Canadian to decide whether the British government's secrets should indeed remain secret.

Read full article New commissioner sets out FOI plans

How pharmacists push NHS services

Pharmacy shelves

Documents obtained by the BBC reveal the techniques used by large pharmacy companies to maximise their income from providing certain services for the NHS in England.

The NHS pays pharmacies for extra services on top of the essential functions laid down in their basic contract. But questions have been raised about whether staff are pressurised into over-prioritising these opportunities to boost revenue or may treat them as a lucrative but perfunctory box-ticking exercise.

Read full article How pharmacists push NHS services

Treasury has the youngest officials

Treasury building

"Work with some of the country's brightest people." That's the slogan enticing job applicants on the recruitment pages of the Treasury's website.

So the clever folk running the nation's finances are clearly not keen on modesty - but are they lacking in maturity?

Read full article Treasury has the youngest officials

Ethnic dimension to Birmingham's vote

Detailed voting data from Birmingham sheds extra light on the EU referendum result. It confirms that Leave support was strongly linked to local populations who were older and had lower educational qualifications, but also shows that the city's ethnic minority areas were more likely to support Remain.

Birmingham council is one of very few authorities that have so far published their referendum voting figures broken down by local wards. The BBC will be trying to obtain this information from as many councils as possible. Data at this level can add more local detail to the national pattern, particularly when comparing it to ward statistics from the 2011 census.

Read full article Ethnic dimension to Birmingham's vote

'Jihadi John' death at centre of dispute

Mohammed Emwazi Image copyright Unknown

Mohammed Emwazi, the British jihadist who featured in beheading videos by so-called Islamic State and became known as "Jihadi John", is dead, according to, amongst others, Barack Obama and IS's own publication.

On the other hand, maybe he isn't dead, according to the University of Westminster in London, where he was a student, and the Information Commissioner's Office.

Read full article 'Jihadi John' death at centre of dispute

Farage should be used 'sparingly' by Leave campaigners

Nigel Farage Image copyright Getty Images

UKIP leader Nigel Farage takes part alongside David Cameron in Tuesday's ITV special debate on the EU, but research from his own supporters questions his helpfulness to their cause.

Mr Farage should only be used "sparingly" when Brexit campaigners target blue-collar workers, because of his potential to alienate voters with "a divisive or reactionary tone on issues like immigration". That's according to a report produced for his own allies.

Read full article Farage should be used 'sparingly' by Leave campaigners

Revealed: The Bush-Major conversations

President George H.W.Bush and John Major in 1991
Image caption The two leaders discussed foreign affairs and their own domestic troubles

Sir John Major and George Bush senior overlapped in power between late 1990 and early 1993, and their close relationship is illustrated by transcripts of conversations obtained by the BBC.

It's tough at the top, whether you're the British prime minister or the US president, and it can be an irritating nuisance having to fight elections to stay there.

Read full article Revealed: The Bush-Major conversations

FOI Commission: Why has it surprised observers?

Cabinet meeting, 2015, with Sir Jeremy Heywood on David Cameron's right Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sir Jeremy Heywood (on Prime Minister David Cameron's right) has spoken of the "chilling effects" of FOI

Ministers have chosen not to make sweeping changes to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, including ruling out fees for requests for information.

The decision follows publication of a report by an independent commission asked to examine the Act.

Read full article FOI Commission: Why has it surprised observers?

Blair and Clinton: the peace process and fatherhood

Tony Blair and Bill Clinton in 1997 Image copyright Getty Images

Records of conversations between Tony Blair and Bill Clinton between 1997 and 2000 - obtained by the BBC - shed new light on their terms in office.

Tony Blair and Bill Clinton told each other that their role was to act like "shrinks" offering therapy to global politicians, as they tried to reconcile various bitter international disputes during their time in office.

Read full article Blair and Clinton: the peace process and fatherhood