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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: September 2019

6 - The Privatisation of Moral Vigilance

from Part III - The Sixties Crisis and Its Legacy 1965–1980


Come the middle of the 1960s, the moral vigilante system of the British establishment collapsed. This chapter chronicles how this came about. It was instigated partly through the demise of the Public Morality Council and its reincarnation as the Social Morality Council under the guidance of the Roman Catholic Church. The evidence is given here for regarding this as something of a putsch, organised by Edward Oliver who deliberately dismantled the PMC and, against the wishes of the Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey, reinvented it as an organisation with international and educational agendas. Vigilantism was then picked up by new leaders – Mary Whitehouse, Lord Longford and Moral Rearmament. This amounted to a privatisation of vigilantism, with pirates who stole it from the mainstream churches. This transformation of the landscape of religious morality thus produced a system divorced from the British establishment.