Cabinet papers reveal how the Tory government targeted 1989’s “new fashion”.

The growing use of ecstasy wasn’t the real reason Margaret Thatcher launched a crackdown on acid house raves in the late ‘80s, recently released government documents have revealed.

A 1989 memo from Number 10, released last week by The National Archives, shows MPs were more concerned about “nuisance caused by the noise” than illegal drugs.

“Drugs are not the main issue,” wrote government official Carolyn Sinclair in the memo, with a handwritten note adding, “There is also surprisingly little alcohol.”

“The main problem with acid house parties is the nuisance caused by noise,” she continued. The memo suggests that the best way to combat the outdoor parties would be to hit the organisers with huge fines when they failed to apply for a public entertainment licence.

“What is needed is a way of hitting at the profits made by the organisers. This should discourage the craze.”

Thatcher was alerted to rave phenomenon earlier that year when MP Archie Hamilton forwarded her a letter from his uncle, who’d been left “very disturbed” after 3,000 people descended on his Hampshire village for an all-night party. In a handwritten note on the letter, Thatcher asked to be briefed on what powers the police had to control this “new fashion”.

The Cabinet Office papers show how the concern about outdoor raves had spread to the highest level of government by 1989, The following year legislation was introduced to increase punishments for those organising parties without an entertainment licence. [via Sky]

Read next: From Crass to acid house, how musical subcultures united against a common enemy

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