‘I’m backing the EEC Referendum 1974’ or (as they used to subtitle a Carry On Film) ‘Is that Robert Peston?’ or ‘My part in Kevin Keegan’s downfall…’ or ‘Goodbye and thanks for all the memories…’

Μemory is a fickle friend. I swear I remember the UK joining the EEC in 1974. The referendum on joining wasn’t a big deal in my life as, to be fair, I still had some years left at Primary School. I also vaguely remember ads promoting the Yes campaign, with celebrities like Kevin Keegan and Bruce Forsyth supporting that message. 

So much for childhood memories. The UK joined the EEC in 1973 without a referendum. There was a referendum in 1975, but that was to see if we’d stay in. And the ads with King Kev and Brucie may have been from the ‘I’m Backing Britain’ campaign of 1968!

Was I a particularly politicised or precocious two year old? Not that I remember. And do I really remember I’m Backing Britain? I’m no longer sure. Maybe these events have just morphed together in my mind. As I now struggle to remember my mobile number, that’s possible.   

Aren’t we lucky that many of us now have access to a part mechanical, part electronic, external repository of knowledge? At least there’s NO CHANCE there’ll be errors like these in the future…

And to help set the past right, and avoid any more muddled memories, here’s some pictures from the referendum campaign of 1975. Pictures, of course, can’t lie.

First up are the winners, Spoiler Alert. Jeremy Thorpe, Edward Heath and Roy Jenkins. Only one of these three men would go on to be tried at the Old Bailey. Thorpe, Leader of the Liberal Party, was charged with conspiracy and incitement to murder. He was acquitted on all charges. Click here for a recent take on this story.

To the far right, can you see a pensive and presumably youthful Robert Peston, long before he took ITV’s shilling?

And then, to risk misquoting that master of media manipulation, Donald Trump, ‘These are the losers’.

Is that Barbara Castle sharing a platform with Enoch Powell? And who knew Enoch Powell was the inspiration behind Douglas Adams’ megalomaniac and two headed hippy Zaphod Beeblebrox? To his left, I think, is a youthful and thinner Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour Party since September 2015.

This picture may lead to a new conspiracy theory. We certainly all need more of them. Does the BBC’s failure to rerun the Goodies really result from their fear that Tim Brooke-Taylor’s short-lived political career would for ever raise questions about Aunty’s impartiality? At least Tim stayed awake, unlike the man sandwiched between him and Tom…

And the result, to quote Kenneth Williams in Carry On Cleo,

Dimbleby, Dimbleby, they’ve all got a Dimbleby…


I’m glad we cleared that up.

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