Though outright admiration for the Soviet Union - "All them cornfields, and ballet in the evenings" as Peter Sellers' Fred Kite put it in I'm All Right Jack - was rare by then, there were plenty on the left who argued that we should engage with the Warsaw Pact powers and played down questions of human rights.
So, while Jim Callaghan was prime minister, Romanian-built locomotives began to appear on Britain's railways.
In those days, admittedly, Nicolae Ceausescu was supposed to be the great liberal hope of Eastern Europe. The leader of the British Liberal Party David Steel even gave him a labrador. The dictator named it Corbu.
But it remains an uncomfortable fact that you were far more likely to find articles about human rights abuse in the Soviet Union in the Spectator than you were in the New Statesman. I seem to recall that you could even subscribe to a scheme that distributed the Spectator behind the Iron Curtain.
The Conservatives had their blind spots - there were plenty of them who were happy to support Apartheid South Africa - but this history gave me some hope that the Coalition would be more respectful of our liberties than Blair and Brown had been.
Especially when the Coalition agreement said:
We will be strong in defence of freedom. The Government believes that the British state has become too authoritarian, and that over the past decade it has abused and eroded fundamental human freedoms and historic civil liberties. We need to restore the rights of individuals in the face of encroaching state power, in keeping with Britain’s tradition of freedom and fairness.But when you read Theresa May's absurd comments in support of her Communications Data Bill you can see that these hopes of the Conservatives have come to nothing.
Here she is taking to the Sun:
“The people who say they’re against this bill need to look victims of serious crime, terrorism and child sex offences in the eye and tell them why they’re not prepared to give the police the powers they need to protect the public.
“Anybody who is against this bill is putting politics before people’s lives.
“We would certainly see criminals going free as a result of this.
“There will be paedophiles who will not be identified and it will reduce our ability to deal with this serious organised crime.”You can say that May is too keen to appeal to her party's right wing or lacks the strength to stand up to the security establishment.
But her thuggish attitude to her liberties do remind me strongly of the mind-set that ruled the Soviet Union - and not a little of the briefing we Lib Dem bloggers were given when this bill first appeared. I am very glad to see Nick Clegg has now had second, better thoughts on it.
Could it be that Theresa May is a Soviet sleeper - an agent put in place when she was but a schoolgirl?
Can any among you remember Theresa May's schooldays? Were there perhaps pictures of Leonid Brezhnev on the dormitory wall? When the other girls were playing hockey was she poring over Soviet coal production figures?
Did she - and this would be the clincher - have a signed photograph of Corbu?