Margaret Thatcher’s Swinging London

“Indeed, this was a period of obsessive and naive interest in ‘youth’. Parents worried so much about the ‘generation gap’ that even teenagers began to take it seriously. A whole ‘youth culture’ of misunderstood Eastern mysticism, bizarre clothing and indulgence in hallucinatory drugs emerged. I found Chelsea a very different place when we moved back to London in 1970. I had mixed feelings about what was happening. There was a vibrancy and talent, but this was also in large degree a world of make-believe. A perverse pride was taken in Britain about our contribution to these trends. Carnaby Street in Soho, the Beatles, the mini-skirt and the maxi-skirt were the new symbols of ‘Swinging Britain’. And they did indeed prove good exports earners. Harold Wilson was adept at taking maximum political credit for them. The trouble was that they concealed the real economic weaknesses which even a talented fashion industry and entrepreneurial recording companies could not counter-balance. As Desmond Donnelly remarked, ‘My greatest fear is that Britain will sink giggling into the sea.'”

The Path to Power, Margaret Thatcher, Harper Collins, 1995.