AT the start of this new decade, be prepared for a host of 50th anniversaries which will come up over the next 10 years with appalling regularity.

For the 1970s were tumultuous years in the history of Scotland, the UK, Europe and indeed the world as a whole.

Following the Swinging Sixties was always going to be a hard act, and many remember the 70s as a time of growing cynicism, brilliantly summed up by The Bonfire of the Vanities author Tom Wolfe as the “Me Decade”, when the growth of community spirit that marked the 60s was overtaken by individualism and narcissism.

The worst thing that can be said about the 70s is that in many ways the decade laid the foundations for the next 50 years, both politically and culturally, and the world has never been the same since.

Remember, it was a time of no internet and no smartphones, but the first personal computers appeared on the scene – a technological revolution was under way. It was also, sadly, the growth decade for terrorism.

So 50 years on, we’ll keep you informed.


AMONG the many 50th anniversaries which will be marked – either celebrated or commemorated, depending on your point of view – will be the rise and fall of the SNP, decimalisation, the Heath government’s crises such as the three-day week, the breakdown in industrial relations, the first European referendum, the mysterious resignation of prime minister Harold Wilson, economic disaster leading to the devaluation of the pound and runaway inflation.

There was also Scotland at two World Cups, the Winter of Discontent, the arrival of Margaret Thatcher and how Scotland was cheated out of devolution.

READ MORE: The story of how Scotland’s Tories came to be Unionists

All of it was played out against a background of civil war in Northern Ireland and terror attacks in England – from Bloody Sunday in 1972 through to the Warrenpoint massacre and the assassination of Lord Mountbatten on the same day in 1979.

But there was hope, too. The Peace People of Ulster won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976, Louise Brown became the world’s first person born through in vitro fertilisation in 1978, and all of that was just in the British Isles.


WHERE do you start? The best thing you could say about international affairs is that the Cold War did not go hot and detente kept the peace between the USA and USSR, but the world saw wars start in the Middle East - the Yom Kippur War of 1973 precipitated the oil crisis which damaged the economies of so many countries – Angola, Bangladesh and the Western Sahara to name but a few.

The Vietnam War drew to a miserable end and Egypt and Israel signed the Camp David Peace Accord, but the decade ended with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge massacred three million people in Cambodia, and the Iranian Revolution in 1979 meant ayatollahs now ruled that country.

In world politics we saw President Richard Nixon resign rather than be impeached over the Watergate scandal, Idi Amin seized power in Uganda and emperor Haile Selassie was overthrown in Ethiopia.

Skyjacking became an unwanted phenomenon and the Munich Olympic massacre of 1972 proved a devastating portent of terrorism to come.


THE 70s was arguably the best-ever decade for popular culture, especially pop music and cinema. From Jaws and Star Wars to The Godfather, it was a period of brilliance by actors and directors across the world when the movies were at their peak. We had David Bowie and glam rock, Abba, and then punk, not to mention the growth of heavy metal and concept albums such as Tubular Bells.

As for fashion? Let’s not go there ...


THE year 1970 itself saw considerable tumult in the UK in particular. The Troubles in Northern Ireland escalated severely, Harold Wilson’s Labour Party suffered a seismic defeat as Ted Heath’s Conservatives won an overall majority in the General Election and The Beatles split up while Concorde and the Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet carried passengers for the first time.

The year 1970 itself was a massive year for sport with Pele’s Brazil – probably the best team ever to play football – winning the World Cup in Mexico, Celtic reaching the European Cup Final after winning the “Battle of Britain” semi-final against Leeds United, and Edinburgh superbly hosting the Commonwealth Games.