Details have been released today as to what the BBC would have broadcast had Britain been attacked with nuclear weapons at the height of the cold war in the 1970s. Advice would have included water conservation, ekeing out food supplies for a fortnight and staying in your own home.
(You can listen to a radio news item about this here.
As well as this other provisions have come to light such as the government take-over of almost all public service areas such as hospitals, putting the police on a war footing and the removal of all national treasures from London and Edinburgh to alternative locations in areas less likely to be under attack.
I can’t imagine the stress that the people involved in planning all of this must have been under. This all occurred a few years before I was born, and so I don’t know what the public conception of this was at the time, and whether it was a real fear in the eyes of the general public or something that was considered a remote possibility by the authorities but one that needed planning for nonetheless.
Something which occurred to me to wonder when I read about this today is, what provisions are in place for the country today? Are there similar plans in case of substantial terrorist attack along the lines of 9/11? Is a nuclear attack (but by a rogue terrorist nuclear power as opposed to one of the bigger world powers) a real threat now?
It would be all too easy to get totally paranoid and scare yourself witless about the potential threats from hostile international factions. Just look at the amount of people who refused to travel by aeroplane after the terrorist attacks on America in 2001. However, I think that if we change our way of life in such a significant way purely because of risk of terrorist attack (like the hesitancy of many people to travel into London after the 7/7 bombings on public transport) then the terrorists have won a small victory. These people hate our way of life, our freedoms and our ability to choose, and by letting them restrict your choices, they are nearer to achieving their aims. By all means be more aware of your own safety and the world around you (e.g. abandoned bags in public places etc) but I don’t think we should let the fear of what-might-be run our lives.