Hidden Histories #5: The burning of the Financial Times

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I’m always on the hunt for pictures in an archive of politics that is mostly text based. I came across this one which shows three (possibly LSE) students burning a copy of the Financial Times in 1967.

Student protests

In 1967 LSE became quite famous for a serious of student protests and sit-ins. At one point, the university erected gates around campus to stop students occupying the building, and, according to the Daily Telegraph, were led by an LSE lecturer crying “This way comrades”. The students removed the gates, and several students were arrested.

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From the National Archives classroom resources on “Sixties Britain”
LSE students being interviewed about the protests (audio starts halfway through)

The protests were about a number of issues and ran over a couple of years in the 1960s. This Guardian article recalls “the class of 1968 [who] having found to our horror that [the school was no longer a radical hotbed] we resolved to make it one, or at least try”.

The protests were about a lot of things, but began in Michaelmas term 1966, at the appointment of a new director, Walter Adams. A group of about 20 LSE students put together a pamphlet called “LSE’s new Director: A report on Walter Adams”

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“LSE’s New Director: a report on Walter Adams”, Agitator, 1966, from LSE Library pamphlet collection

This pamphlet sets out in detail its opposition to the appointment of Walter Adams as new Director at LSE. They specify four main criticisms of the appointment and then provide their evidence:

“Unwillingness to take a stand on the issue of academic freedom

Avoidance of important decision making

Extreme isolation from staff and students

Administrative inefficiency”

Some of their criticisms related to Adams’ time as principle of the College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (now the University of Zimbabwe), during Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence, which saw Prime Minister Ian Smith attempt to “prevent black rule by declaring independence from Britain”. The reasons for the “LSE Troubles” were about a lot of issues, set within a context of the civil rights movement and global protests going on at this time — this would be a good book to dig more into the period if you were interested in looking at the LSE context.

There are many fantastic photographs from this period, but the one that started this post caught my eye:

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The caption on the back of the photograph reads:

“…copies of the Financial Times are burned outside the newspaper’s offices in the City of London during a demonstration today (Friday). Students marched to the Financial Times offices and to the Law Courts where today an application was made for three LSE students to be imprisoned for contempt of court. The chairman of the Financial Times, Lord Robbins, is also chairman of the LSE’s Governing Board. May 16th 1969”

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