Today has seen the release of Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet files from 1989 and 1990. Some of the most significant events of the period are represented, such as the reunification of Germany, the introduction of the Poll Tax (and ensuing disturbances in Trafalgar Square) and the end of Margaret Thatcher’s premiership.
As ever we are provided with a greater understanding of the concerns of the Prime Minister and the Government, how those concerns stretched into new areas, and the breadth of perspectives a release of files of this kind can provide.
Today, however, we take a closer look at some of lesser known events covered by the files: diplomats struggling on as Iraqi forces besieged Kuwait City; letters of condolence prepared pre-emptively (and prematurely) by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for the death of Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping; and the interest the Home Office – and the Prime Minister – took in curtailing acid house parties.
Embassies under siege
In June 1985, the new ambassador to Kuwait, Peter Moon, complained about the state of the British embassy in Kuwait City, describing it as ‘shabby’ and ‘bursting-at-the-seams’ (FCO 8/5838). Luckily, he didn’t have to spend several months in the building, besieged by Iraqi troops. His successor’s successor, Michael Weston, did. You can read part of his story in newly released PREM 19/3080.
On 2 August 1990, Iraqi troops crossed the Kuwaiti border and captured the capital. On 9 August, Saddam Hussein ordered all diplomatic missions to close and move to Baghdad by 24 August. When they failed to comply, water and electricity were cut off, and a long siege began. Continue reading »