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Soccer and the Intelligence Services: Why they matter?

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  • UserChristopher Andrews
  • ClockTuesday 25 September 2012, 19:00-21:00
  • HouseThe Maypole.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Andrew N Holding.

First, the 1883 cup final, the only occasion when the working class was able to take on the upper class without the middle class getting in the way. Chris speaks from (nearly) personal knowledge. In a low budget Channel 4 re-enactment at the Kennington Oval (where the final took place) he played all the parts. Blackburn were the first working-class team to get to the final, hitherto always won by old public school teams. Chris will reveal how Blackburn beat the Old Etonians. After 1883 no public school team ever made it to the finals again—with momentous consequences for British (and Italian politics) history.

Equally momentous was the founding of MI5 in 1909—the first British organisation to try to recruit clever women (not so far noticed by our colleagues in gender studies). For the first time some of the gents found that their secretaries were better educated as well as better bred than they were. The first female finance director in Whitehall history worked for MI5 in WW1 —just as at the end of the Cold War MI5 became the first major intelligence agency anywhere in the world to have a female head. Of great importance too is the fact that intelligence remains the only profession in which a fictional Cambridge graduate (Bond) remains far better known than any real member of the intelligence profession, alive or dead. There should be time to move on to Britain’s most secret cricket team and its connection with counter-terrorism.

Chris Andrew is co-convenor of the Cambridge University Intelligence Seminar, Emeritus Professor of Modern & Contemporary History, Honorary Air Commodore, ex- President of Corpus Christi College, former Visiting Professor at Harvard, Toronto and the Australian National University. He has presented numerous BBC documentaries (including, for 14 years, Radio 4 ‘What If?’). The most recent of his 18 books, Defence of the Realm(Penguin), written as official historian of MI5 , was the 2010 UK best-seller in the Politics category.

This talk is part of the Skeptics in the Pub series.

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