Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan had come to power heralding a rightwards shift in our politics. Both were engaged in sabre rattling with the Soviet Union. All of this stoked real fear among young people that we could see a nuclear war in our lifetime.
A survey of college students in 1980 found most believing they were going to die in a thermo-nuclear holocaust. It seems incredible to consider this now…even allowing for North Korea. But there was a widespread anxiety that our civilisation could be wiped out by a Soviet-US conflict.
‘Jobs not Bombs’ became a very popular slogan. There was a rather blood curdling song I heard on one demo that went something like…
What shall we do with Ronald Reagan? Put him in the shuttle and take the tiles off.
That would have been around 1981. That was five years before the shuttle explosion caused by…erm…a tile coming off – and a teacher at the wheel (first civilian astronaut).
Another ditty went…
What shall we do with Maggie Thatcher? Put her in a police van and send it to Brixton.
The sense was that Reagan and Thatcher were warmongers propelling us towards the end of the world.