1968: when Britain's Daily Mirror tried to overthrow Parliament

Ben sez, "This Adam Curtis documentary (he posted the rough cut of his new one) is pretty incredible. It features the story of the head of the Daily Mirror in 1968, attempting to organize a coup of the British Parliament, partially by spreading financial panic rumors through his newspaper. He is abetted by the head of the Bank of England, and his psychic wife who convinces him that he has super powers.
Many in the Labour Party have believed ever since that Cecil King was conspiring with members of MI5 to destroy the democratically elected government, but there appears to be no hard evidence for this.

The truth is that King was in league with more familiar "rogue elements" - senior City of London bankers, including the Governor of the Bank of England, who wanted to force the Labour government to slash the financial deficit. But the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, was refusing to bow to their demands.

At the same time as this was happening, many of the journalists in Fleet Street were filled with a terrible doom about the future of newspapers. As a result the BBC got excited and went and made all sorts of films about newspapers - recording Fleet Street before it died. Some of the material they filmed is just wonderful - it is full of both touching and silly moments of an old world of journalism.



    1. Tomorrow Never Dies’ villain was rather transparently patterned on Murdoch, who was busily trying to get the Chinese government to allow him broadcasting rights for Sky.

      I have to mention the ur-source for the “Cecil King conspires with MI5 to bring down the Wilson government” story, “Spycatcher” by Peter Wilson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spycatcher). Don’t miss Leon Rosselson’s attempt to get tried for breaching the gag order against the book, “Ballad of a Spycatcher.”

  1. who wanted to force the Labour government to slash the financial deficit.

    Sounds like the S&P here in the states.

  2. Strange…. I thought we usually put dynamite under parliament when we didn’t agree with it rather than doing complicated French things like coups. Mind you the ’60s was famous for some mind-boggling megalomaniacs…

  3. If you’ve ever wondered how some upper-class English can get away with using the word ‘what’ to end a statement; look no further than this man’s face.

  4. Actually this is even more blatantly part of the source material for the book and TV miniseries ‘A Very British Coup’. This story is a major plot element in it.

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