"The police should all retire. They're disgusting. England is falling to pieces." Mick Jagger's 1972 state-of-the-nation anarchist rant was quite something

Mick Jagger, in 1972
(Image credit: Michael Putland/Getty Images)

"My slogan is: 'Good Government is No Government'. England doesn't need a government."

It's March 1972, and sitting in Sunset Sound studios in Los Angeles, Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger is on a roll. NME journalist Roy Carr had been invited to the studio to hear an early preview of the Stones' then-still-unreleased Exile On Main St. album and conduct an interview with Jagger about what fans could expect, but a mention of the Conservative government's controversial Night Assemblies Bill has set the conversation on a different tangent. 

The Bill had received its second reading in Parliament on January 21, 1972. David Crouch, the MP for Canterbury, told the House of Commons:

"I believe that the whole House appreciates the need for such legislation as I am proposing to deal with a new phenomenon in modern society. I refer to the "pop" festival, a new sporting or musical event which has taken and is taking place regularly during the season. Such events are on the scale of the Derby race meeting, but they take place without proper proportions being instituted for very large assemblies of people. The Bill is being introduced not to prohibit pop festivals but to make them more acceptable to all concerned and, in particular, more enjoyable for those who go to them to hear the music and entertainment."

The bill proposed to make it a criminal offence to hold a gathering of 1000 people or more outside between midnight and 6 a.m. without applying to a local authority four months beforehand and without financial guarantees being made. And Mick Jagger saw it as an attempt to crush civil liberties, as the scope of the original bill could have seen it extended beyond pop festivals.

As Turd On The Run played in the background, the singer embarked upon a state-of-the-nation address which makes his distaste for Edward Heath's government all too clear.

"It's disgusting," Jagger told Carr. "The British public should openly flout the Tory government. And voting is no good because it never works... The best thing would be for a load of our top bands to turn up somewhere and assemble a large crowd and do a gigantic free gig. If they did, then you be sure, I'd be there."

"I honestly believe Britain would be better off with no government than the present Tory one,"Jagger continued."And as far as the police - they should all retire. I mean they're all disgusting... England is just falling to pieces."

"If they get away with this bill," Jagger warned, "then they're really going to try and enforce other measures to restrict people's freedom. If they banned football matches then they'd see some trouble. Just let them start that -and see what happens."

"England has always had a malaise of not caring," Jagger concluded. "People take everything lying down.They are content to let the country be run by a load of misguided right-wingers."

Ultimately, support for the Night Assembles Bill fell away: whether or not Mick Jagger's opposition to the bill swayed any MPs in their intentions is not recorded in Hansard, the official report of all Parliamentary debates.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.