Written at a critical moment when MI5 was emerging from the shadows and casting around for a post Cold-War role, this classic text itemises and fluently analyses in referenced detail that process. While some of the groups (Left/Right/Nationalist/Green) have come and gone, the basic template and modus operandi persists, as too the positions on the political spectrum, which is why this book remains in print and available. It also contains acute analysis of the various ways media outlets have facilitated spook agendas: something they continue so to do.
Not to be missed
"The bulk of this book utilises O'Hara's specialist knowledge by focusing on 'Fascist/Nazi' (British National Party and Combat 18) and 'Anti-Fascist' (Anti-Fascist Action and Red Action) groups, as well as MI5 and its alleged operational fronts such as Searchlight magazine. O'Hara starts however by giving special attention to the public image of MI5 via the July 1993 publication MI5 : The Security Service and the ground-breaking Dimbleby Lecture (BBC, 12th June 1994). It was in the latter that Stella Rimington, its head, defined the role of MI5 as : "Safeguarding the survival and well-being of the State against substantial threats which are covertly organised and purposeful".
O'Hara questions the legitimacy of such a service and studies the role of MI5 in defending the State against perceived "threats". A murky word of double dealing it proves to be. You're never quite sure that the activists are in fact activists rather than agents. Hitlists turn out not to be produced by the far-left or far-right but by agent provocateurs. The amoral and ultimately self-defeating methods used make you wonder whether a state that employs them is worth defending... The research is extensive. Had this book been written as a novel with a few names changed it would be a bestseller. No wonder everyone from Sinn Fein to the rabid right consider it required reading."