MT 40: Scrapbook 1970s

Petrol queues, striking dustmen, the advent of Punk ... MT looked hard for the good news, celebrating rising stars as it mourned exec job-cuts.

Last Updated: 27 Jan 2016

OCTOBER 70 - Tracking Bland

MT noted 'the phenomenally rapid' promotion of a fresh-faced Chris Bland (left) at management consultant Booz Allen & Hamilton. 'After less than three years with the company,' we gushed, 'he has emerged as managing director of the UK end of the firm.' This is the very same Chris Bland who would go on to gain a knighthood and become one of the UK's most-sought after chairmen, taking the top seat at LWT, the BBC and British Telecom, to name but three.

NOVEMBER 71 - The shape of the EC to come

Here's a snippet from a farsighted editorial written two years before Britain joined the Common Market (and more than 30 years before the introduction of the euro): 'The benefits of the Common Market will be more easily won if it is seen in a realistic light - as a tariff-free economic grouping of states, seeking to share the proven advantages of wider trade association, and to build on that a structure of economic union (the sensible course for countries thrust together by geography); and then to construct lasting political harmony.' Well, two out of three isn't bad.

MARCH 72 - Dixons' day

The web wasn't even a twinkle in Tim Berners-Lee's eye when Dixons supremo Stanley Kalms posed for this portrait (above right). He already had 120 stores, was opening a new branch every week and making a profit of £1.2m on turnover of nearly £12m. But the name is now about to disappear from the high street, replaced by Currys Digital stores. Dixons will live on only on the internet.

MAY 76 - Designer power

In a piece on the management of design, MT wrote: 'Designers are stereotyped as either long-haired aesthetes on the fashion scene, or scientific boffins in the small back room.' Here's one of them, a hirsute and hip-looking Terence Conran (opposite, top left) - described as a 'permanent and lasting influence on our lives' through his Habitat stores - doing his bit to promote the aesthetic approach.

SEPTEMBER 76 - Selfish bosses take all the credit

Exactly 30 years ago, MT first offered advice to its readers on what has subsequently become a very hot topic indeed - how to manage your boss.

'Most managers complain about the inadequacy of their immediate superiors,' ran the opening sentence, proving that people don't really change much.

The author went on to offer examples of '70s-style bad-boss behaviour that still ring true today, including 'He is never available', 'He keeps changing his mind' and, of course, that perennial favourite, 'He takes all the credit'.

Of course, no-one's boss would have been a she back then ...

FEBRUARY 77 - Unions in charge

We could hardly let the late '70s pass without a look at the unions, could we? In one of his earlier pieces for MT, Simon Caulkin wrote: 'Few would doubt that by the 1970s the trade unions had reached new peaks in their political, as opposed to merely industrial, strength. For the British, it was a shock to find it argued that the unions, so resoundingly defeated in the General Strike of 1926, could be responsible for the defeat of the Labour Government in 1970 and the Heath administration of 1974. According to a recent poll, 54% of the British public now think that Jack Jones (leader of the TGWU from 1968 to 1977) is more powerful than the Prime Minister.'

MARCH 77 - Management cull

Under the gloomy headline 'The Unemployed Manager', MT recorded that no fewer than 70,000 British executives were between jobs, a new record at the time. But there was worse to come. 'According to McKinsey, many companies are overmanned to the tune of 20%-30% at managerial levels.

A combination of optimism and indulgence has built up a layer which is now being lost the painful way.' Fuel for the later Tory slogan 'Labour isn't Working'?

OCTOBER 79 - Beer drinkers reject the brewers' fizzy logic

Real-beer fans remember the '70s with undisguised horror as the era of dreaded 'nitro-keg' bitters like Watney's Red Barrel, Whitbread Trophy and Double Diamond - fizzy and bland, but much easier to make and keep than traditional ales. In this piece, MT charted the beer drinker's backlash and the rise of bearded and be-sandalled pressure group Camra (Campaign for Real Ale). But for the famous Young's Ram Brewery in south London (left) the threat that would lead to its eventual demise was not changing drinking habits but rising property prices. In 2006, the site is so valuable thanks to its prime residential location that Young's can no longer afford not to sell it. Despite the protests of drinkers all over the south-east, production will be moved to the Charles Wells brewery in Bedford.

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