1970-1979 | Nuclear Armageddon

Harold Wilson – nuclear weapons help us to woo Washington

20 November 1974 On 20 November 1974, during a Cabinet discussion on nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Harold Wilson presented his reasons why he thought Britain should retain them, with the inevitable consequence that the country would be a prime target in the event of any future nuclear war. Wilson might have argued that, despite the…

1970-1979 | Detention without trial | Northern Ireland

PM advised to be ‘economical with the truth’ over detention of Catholics

18 October 1972 Today in 1972, Prime Minister Edward Heath was briefed to be ‘economical with the truth’ when he met the Irish Taoiseach, Jack Lynch. The advice was to inform him only that ‘the police (in Northern Ireland) draw no distinction between Catholics and Protestants in the investigation of security offences and the prosecution…

1970-1979 | Northern Ireland | Torture

Routine use of torture in Ulster exposed

17 October 1971 On 17 October 1971, the Sunday Times published a front page article entitled ‘How Ulster Internees are Made to Talk,’ in which former detainee Pat Shivers recounted how, over a period of several days, he was hooded and forced into agonizing stress positions and fell unconscious repeatedly.  The Ministry of Defence immediately held a…

1970-1979 | Palestine

Harold Wilson orders ministers not to be friendly with PLO delegates

29 August 1975 Today in 1975,  Tony Benn, the secretary of state for industry, noted in his diary that he had received ‘special instructions from Harold Wilson about tomorrow’s IPU (Inter Parliamentary Union) Conference. The prime minister had issued a warning that ministers were not, under any circumstances, to be friendly towards the PLO (Palestine…

1970-1979 | Detention without trial | Northern Ireland | Torture

Army arrests hundreds of catholics under ‘internment without trial’ powers

9 August 1971 On 9 August 1971, hundreds of British soldiers were deployed across Northern Ireland to arrest 342 Catholics and two protestants with suspected Republican sympathies under new powers of ‘internment without trial.’1 They kicked down doors and dragged men of all ages from their beds. Only Catholic areas were targeted. The British government saw…

1970-1979 | Civilians slaughtered | Northern Ireland

Six, including priest, shot dead by British troops in West Belfast

9 August 1971 On 9 August 1971, six civilians ranging in age from 19 to 50 years, including Hugh Mullan, a Catholic priest, and Joan Connolly, a 45 year old grandmother, were shot dead in West Belfast by soldiers of the Parachute Regiment during a mass round up of Catholic men on the Ballymurphy estate….

1970-1979 | Arms exports | Backing dictatorships | Uganda

Ugandan dictator Idi Amin guest of honour at Buckingham Palace

14 July 1971 On 14 July 1971, Ugandan dictator Idi Amin was the guest of honour at a state banquet with the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Newspaper coverage was mostly favourable. An editorial in the Daily Telegraph declared that Amin was ‘a staunch friend of Britain.’1 The Birmingham Daily Post reported that ‘this is President…

1970-1979 | Civilians slaughtered | Massacres | Northern Ireland

Army snipers kill five in West Belfast including three children and a priest

9 July 1972 On 9 July 1972, soldiers of the British parachute regiment had taken up position behind sandbags in a lumbar yard on the Springhill Estate in West Belfast. They claimed to have been fired upon first, but civilian witnesses testified that it was the soldiers who opened fire on two cars which had…

1970-1979 | Nuclear Armageddon

Ministers and MPs learn of Harold Wilson’s secret H-bomb test

24 June 1974 On 24 June 1974, Prime Minister Harold Wilson made a statement in the House on Britain’s nuclear deterrent. The previous year, the Labour Party Conference had voted by a clear majority to close down all nuclear bases in the United Kingdom and many Labour MPs had taken their seats ready to denounce any…