What if the Russians HAD invaded us?
Declassified papers, released this week, show that 30 years ago, at the height of the Cold War, Britain's defence system was so woefully inadequate that, had Russia launched an assault, we would have been incapable of protecting ourselves. As Prime Minister Jim Callaghan remarked at the time: 'Heaven help us if there is a war.' If Russia had attacked us, here is how one leading historian imagines events might have unfolded.
By Andrew Roberts
Last updated at 1:00 AM on 03rd January 2009
It hardly seems 30 years could have passed since the Anglo-Soviet War of January 1979, but the huge preparations to celebrate it - with vast Katyuschka rocket-launchers and T-90 tanks about to parade down the Mall from Admiralty Arch to Buckingham People's Palace - remind us that they have.
Marching on Westminster: How invading Soviet troops might have paraded past the Houses of Parliament
The seven-day war between the USSR and United Kingdom has gone down in history as one of the most decisive victories of all time. Even three decades later it seems astonishing that a modern sovereign nation such as Britain could have been defeated in such a short period.
To this day we still do not know who in the Ministry of Defence leaked the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) report of November 1978 that warned Jim Callaghan of Britain's weaknesses right across the armed services. It seems the key sentence that encouraged the Soviet Union to attack was: 'Stocks of air defence munitions would sustain operations for only two or three days.'
The rest of the report - which pointed out that there were only enough surface-to-air missiles to reload launchers once, that the RAF faced a 'crippling' shortage of pilots, and the Army would be overwhelmed before Britain was able to mobilise her reserves - only added to the Russians' certainty that the war would be over quickly. They were right.
The massive aerial attack by MiGs from Russia's 12 aircraft carriers off the Norfolk and Suffolk coasts, coupled with the landing of 20 parachute brigades on key British aerodromes and a naval armada unloading 30 tank divisions into East Anglia, meant the JIC's stark assessment was put to the test only two months after it was made.
The British armed forces fought with superb bravery for a week, but the former Labour PM Harold Wilson's swingeing defence cuts of the Sixties and mid-to-late Seventies left them powerless to resist the Russian assaults.
Former Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson's defence cuts of the Sixties and mid-to-late Seventies left Britain's defence system vulnerable
Napoleon and Hitler had failed to bring Britain to her knees, but years of cheese-paring socialist defence reviews achieved it instead.
Jim Callaghan, a patriot who had served as a petty officer in World War II, had written 'Heaven help us if there is a war!' on the stark JIC assessment - and before he was imprisoned for 20 years for 'crimes against the proletariat' in May 1979, he blamed his predecessor Wilson's 'crazy' decisions over defence for the humiliating defeat.
With President Jimmy Carter of America unwilling to plunge the world into nuclear war over what was effectively a fait accompli, the British had to get on with life as best they could under the Russian boot.
For all the Soviet promises of 'peace, land, bread and solidarity', Britain - which was split up into the English, Scottish, Welsh and Ulster socialist republics of the USSR - did not thrive.
As satellite states of Moscow and members of the Warsaw Pact, they quickly discovered that life under communism was not the workers' paradise the sociology professors in polytechnics and universities had promised them.
The new chairman of the Praesidium of the English Soviet, Mr Arthur Scargill, formed a broad-based Politburo which covered the entire political spectrum, from Socialist Workers and Stalinists to extreme-Left Labourites.
With Ken Livingstone as mayor of London, George Galloway as chairman of the Anglo-Soviet Friendship Council and Derek Hatton as Commissar for Trade and Industry, only Tony Benn was missing from the grouping. He left for Paris when his beloved House of Commons was turned into the People's Duma and filled with stooges.
A General Election was held in May 1979, but since only members of the Communist Party were allowed onto the ballot, Scargill's 99.8 per cent victory was not widely considered legitimate.
Pravda, Izvestia, Tass, the Socialist Worker, Morning Star, The Mirror and, of course, the BBC all proclaimed the election valid, however, which - as they were the only permitted organs of opinion - silenced all criticism.
The hair's-breadth escape from Faslane naval base of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh to Canada, and Prince Charles to New Zealand, further undermined the Scargill regime's legitimacy, but isolated incidents of resistance were ruthlessly crushed during what is today known to history as 'The Pacification'.
Terror was still the Kremlin's most potent weapon. The Gulag system, based in Swindon, but taking in much of Wiltshire - which now has 550,000 prisoners spread around 64 concentration camps - had reached its maximum capacity long ago.
The use of psychiatric hospitals to imprison sane dissidents still continues and allows the authorities to use drugs on those it claims are mentally ill but who are, in fact, opponents of the Government.
The arrest, torture and execution by firing squad of the dissident conservative campaigner Damian Green just before Christmas is testament to the regime's continuing ruthlessness.
Arthur Scargill: Pictures of him along with Leonid Brezhnev might have been in front of public buildings in Britain
The collectivisation of agriculture, with centrally-directed Five-Year Plans setting quotas for every kind of produce, led to a collapse in food production that by the mid-Eighties saw hunger in some parts of the English socialist republic, especially when the advice of Robert Mugabe, new prime minister of Zimbabwe, was put into effect by the Agriculture Commissar.
The most obvious change to the British landscape of the Soviet Occupation - apart from the vast pictures of Leonid Brezhnev, Arthur Scargill and Andrei Gromyko in front of public buildings such as the People's Gallery in Trafalgar Square and the great Lenin and Stalin museums in South Kensington - was the turning over of all churches to the State.
Instead of 'superstitious acts of worship-there are now Atheism exhibitions, Soviet Realist Art shows, ceremonies of the Red Star Boy Scout movement, chess championships, International Peace Conferences, celebrations of the Kalashnikov rifle and Katyuschka rocket, and compulsory Sunday schooling in the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism.
The dictatorship of the proletariat was forced through with fanaticism by the newly installed Politburo. On May Day 1979, all independent schools were abolished, creating chaos in the state sector which suddenly had to try to incorporate hundreds of thousands of pupils overnight.
Then every major industry was nationalised and even the once-mighty banks that financed them were brought under central control - a ploy that even the most Left-wing members of the old Labour Party had never dared to dream of - with the result that every economic decision, however small, had to be taken by the Treasury.
The gold under the Bank of England was removed to the Kremlin 'for safe keeping'. All private property was confiscated by the State, which became the sole employer. The result has been
Although she had little trouble in persuading Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford and Henry Kissinger that Britain needed to be liberated, President Carter felt it his Christian duty not to antagonise the Russian bear.
And although President George W. Bush promised regime change in Europe, along the lines forced on it by the Allies after D-Day, it was not to be. Instead, weapons of mass destruction are to trundle down the Mall this weekend, in full view of a sorrowful world.
Thatcher has so far survived three assassination attempts: the first when the Willard Hotel in Washington, in which she was staying, was bombed by the KGB; another when radioactive polonium 210 was put into her tea; and the third when a poisoned umbrella tip was about to be shoved into her foot.
Margaret Thatcher's retirement in 2000 means that for nine years the British Resistance Movement has been effectively rudderless.
The people of the former United Kingdom today rue the day they allowed the Labour Party to cut defence spending to the bone. The mistake made in the Twenties and Thirties, when the Treasury dominated the rest of Whitehall, nearly led to disaster in World War II.
In 1979, disaster is what actually happened. Money spent on aircraft carriers, a proper jet fighter, state-of-the-art tanks, night vision goggles, decent accommodation for soldiers and their families, properly protected vehicles, ammunition supplies lasting months rather than days, and so on, is what was necessary. But instead Labour got its spending priorities woefully wrong.
The result can be seen in the extinguishing of British liberty, as Russian veterans, their uniforms sagging with the weight of their medals and decorations, march through the centre of our capital city. Indeed, a new medal has been especially minted to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the victory. It has a Union Jack ribbon and displays the motif of a hammer and sickle atop Big Ben.
'The Conquest of Britain 1979-2009' is says on the obverse, and on the reverse, in Russian, the phrase: 'Only Those Who Prepare For War Can Ever Live in Peace.'
• Andrew Robert's Masters And Commanders: How Roosevelt, Churchill, Marshall And Alanbrooke Won The War In The West 1941-45, is published by Penguin.