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With the exception of the Daily Express, the national papers did not take up the US cause; they sharply criticized, sometimes with acrimony, the Kennedy moves, all the more so as the President had chosen not to consult with his allies.

The London Press objected to the quarantine, regarding it as a threat to peace and an encroachment on the inalienable freedom of the high seas.

The Daily Telegraph, close to government circles, stressed that the American retaliation greatly complicated things.

The Guardian, then a liberal paper, was very critical, and thought the blockade unjustified and detrimental to the US cause.

Lambasting the blockade, the Daily Mail felt that the President had gone too far; that it was high time the escalation triggered off by the US decision were stopped.

The Financial Times feared a progressive crescendo and Soviet retaliation over Berlin.

The Press clearly advocated negotiations. The Times had strong reservations about the blockade and was very critical of the American lack of consultation, but anticipatorily advocated trading the Cuban Missiles for the Jupiters in Turkey.

On 24 October, the Belgian Press argued along the same line, and so did the Chairman of the Belgian Senate. Both the Catholic daily La Libre Belgique and the Socialist Le Peuple disapproved of Kennedy who "had ignored international law", "did not consult with Nato" and "was playing a dangerous game".

L'Humanité 26/10/62

Nord Eclair 28-29/10/62
Nord Eclair
28/29 October 1962  

As Macmillan insisted that the photos be made public, in order to make the opinion aware of the danger, David Bruce, the US Ambassador to London decided to call a press conference in the afternoon of Tuesday 23 October and convened representatives of the major media. In the meantime, 2,000 supporters of unilateral disarmament gathered outside the US Embassy in London.

In the evening, the BBC and ITV Channels ran late specials and showed photographic evidence supplied by the CIA. The same pictures were on front pages the next morning: the Press and public opinion did an about-turn.

Daily Herald 23/10/62
Daily Herald
23 October 1962

Overnight, a particularly scathing Daily Mail, the Labour organ, turned into a staunch supporter of the Atlantic Alliance, and so did The Guardian, now writing that Britain was backing Kennedy. On the other hand, both Daily Telegraph and Daily Herald, kept questioning the legitimacy of the blockade.

But all commentators favoured British diplomatic mediation, so as to try to bridge the dangerous gap between East and West. The contrast hardened on 25 October, with the Daily Telegraph dwelling on Soviet double-talk and the Daily Mail praising Kennedy's determination.

Only on 26 October did the Daily Telegraph do a U-turn, after pressure had been brought to bear by a Government member. The Guardian did not follow suit and, instead of extolling the Atlantic Alliance, envisaged on October 27 the possibility for Britain to distance herself from the USA if it came to aggressing Cuba.

The Observer 28/10/62
The Observer
28 October 1962
   
Suday Times 28/10/62
The Sunday Times
28 October 1962

In London, the ending of the crisis was met with "enormous relief", according to a French observer. Again the lone ranger, the Guardian editorialist, unlike most others who thought that extensive negotiations should now begin on the disarmament issue, looked forward to either a dismissal of Khrushchev or the opening of another front by the Soviets by way of compensation for the Caribbean withdrawal.


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