The second item of interest was chilling. In 1958, Prime Minister Harold MacMillan sent a memo to a member of his Cabinet, Dr Charles Hill. It read:
"It is most important that we should find some way of organising and directing an effective campaign to counter the current agitation against this country's possession of nuclear weapons. This is a question on which the natural emotions of ordinary people would lead them to be critical of the Government's policy, and to accept without question or reason the arguments which our opponents use. ....
...Can we persuade some influential publicists to write articles? Are there any reliable scientists? Or Church of England Bishops?"
Apparently MacMillan "considered whether (he) might write to the Archbishop of Canterbury asking him to warn local clergy not to help the (Aldermaston) demonstrators"
A week later, in a memo of April 2nd, he reported:
"Active steps are being taken to identify the intellectuals, Churchmen, scientist and others who support the Government in the controversy over this country's possession of nuclear bombs."
By the following year, Hill reported that "a modest beginning" had been made towards mobilising church support for the H-bomb programme. The folder which produced most of this information (PREM 11/2778) is followed by four others marked 'Closed for the next 100 years'.
Fascinating stuff. But not really so long ago - at a time when our churches were full on Sundays and clergy held in respect by most of society. Makes you wonder, really. I think we're a lot healthier nowadays - as long as senior clergy feel able to resist the temptation to climb onto fences.