12 JULY 1957, Page 18


SIR,—The petty, personal attack upon the General Director of the Liberal Party in your `Westminster Commentary' (July 5) is the more deplorable because the writer refuses to admit that Mr. Harris is correct, and persists in his arguments even though they are refuted by the facts.

As a well-informed political journalist one would have thought Taper would have known that the Liberal Party Assembly passed a resolution at its meetings last September which condemned the con- tinuation of the H-bomb tests. Since then the Liberal MPs and the party's prospective candidates have car- ried out an intensive campaign throughout the country on this issue, and one which has excited a great deal of comment. To single out one resolution from the scores passed by Liberal Organisations since last September and declare that it was adopted with one eye on North Dorset is quite childish even to the most inexperienced political observer—let alone the political writer of a periodical of the status of the Spectator.

Taper also asserts that as we failed to win North Dorset we have no hope of winning any seats at the next General Election. Although we are the challen- gers in North Dorset we were handicapped from the outset by the fact that the Liberal poll fell by some 7,000 votes at the previous General Election. In places like Inverness, North Cornwall and Hereford, where the Liberal vote rose steeply at the 1955 General Election and where the Conservative Members have majorities of 2,000 or under, even the most biased politician would have to admit that our chances arp extremely high, and far, far higher than they were at North Dorset, although it may well be that having sliced the Tory majority by more than half the North Dorset Liberals will devour the remaining few thou- sand at the next attempt—Yours faithfully, PETER BESSELL Prospective Liberal Candidate Bodmin Division 21 Harben Road, Hampstead, NW6

[Taper writes : 'I don't care if the Liberal Party passed a resolution against the H-bomb during Mr. Gladstone's Midlothian campaign. I have twice now (and quite unambiguously) declared that the Liberal Party's correspondence with the Prime Minister, initi- ated on May 18 this year, was clearly connected with the North Dorset by-election. So far nobody has pro- duced any evidence to the contrary. But there is nothing wrong with that. Liberals are surely entitled to pick up votes in any manner they think proper.'— Editor, Spectator.]