Caroline enrages hardliners


A RATTLED Conservative government faced two challenges from the pop culture of the swinging sixties: clashes between Mods and Rockers and the launch of Radio Caroline.

In both cases the initial Cabinet reaction was hardline. When the pirate station challenged the Government's ability to control the airwaves, the Post Master General, Reginald Bevins, outlined two options: jamming the fledgling broadcaster (which ran therisk of interfering with legitimate broadcasts) and making it illegal for Britons to provide material support or advertising.

But two days later, Mr Bevins was backtracking. After a meeting of the backbench Broadcasting Committee a letter from Mr Bevins to the Prime Minister revealed that "backbenchers were in favour of the continuance of Radio Caroline" and were opposed "to any idea of legislation".

To his alarm some "even suggested that Radio Caroline should not only be tolerated but even encouraged".

The Caroline issue had been seized on by newspapers as an example of the need for local radio and many Tory MPs sided with a private, free market venture. Conservative disarray was reflected in a note of the Prime Minister's daily committee on 13 May: "It is vital that ministers should be clear as to our line about Radio Caroline. We run the risk of looking very foolish."

With the election looming the most practical solution was not to proceed with legislation against Caroline until the Council of Europe had examined the international aspects.

Meanwhile, with MPs calling for the return of birching, the Cabinet considered removing driving licences from Mods and Rockers who clashed in seaside towns at bank holiday weekends.

A letter from the Home Secretary, Henry Brooke, to the Prime Minister in June rejected the idea because, to be effective, magistrates would have had to have been given the power of disqualification for any offence. That, concluded Mr Brooke, would "provoke an unhelpful amount of controversy".

Instead, Mr Brooke proposed to amend the 1914 Criminal Justice (Administration) Act to increase from £20 to £100 the fines, and amounts payable in compensation, for those convicted of malicious damage. At the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence the best brains became embroiled in a thorny Cold War issue: should Chi-Chi, London's Chinese panda, be allowed a Russian mate?

On January 13 1964 London Zoo's Curator of Mammals first raised Chi-Chi's plight in a letter to Sir Solly Zuckerman, proposing to "negotiate with Moscow to arrange a meeting between our increasingly sex-starved female and their solitary male. (As you know, Chi-Chi's sexual cycles became abnormally prolonged and intense last year)."

At the Foreign Office Duncan Wilson, an official, agreed to arrange a formal submission adding that "it may have important results in exacerbating the Sino-Soviet dispute, and will of course be of interest to the Nato Council".

Rab Butler, the Foreign Secretary, noted the proposal could proceed, only for Nicholas Henderson, an official and future ambassador, to observe irreverently: "Unless you think Mr Robert Kennedy could interpose himself".

Moscow remained unimpressed. Its first reaction, according to the MoD on 26 February, was unfavourable, leaving Chi-Chi - for the time being at least - as sex-starved as ever.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent