16 FEBRUARY 1934, Page 6

Just before the recent violent disturbances began in France I

had a letter from a Frenchman (who happens to be a Monarchist), telling the that he was certain that there would be some violent outbreaks before long, and that nothing would be right with France till a leader appeared strong enough to defy the forces of petty political intrigue. Politically. we are not in such a bad way as the French, but here, .to, the demand- for the traditional "strong man," eapable' of getting things done quickly, plays into the hands of Fascists and Communists alike. But why . should it so readily be assumed that powerful leadership is inconsistent with democracy ? I am glad to see that a vigorous protest against this idea is made in a manifesto on "Liberty and Democratic Leadership" which has just been issued over the names of 145 signatories ; and I observe that they are not merely affirming their faith in democracy and their dislike of violence, but ask for "a conception of leadership that involves treating democracy with a new respect, offering scientific schemes of a far-sighted and far-reaching order." I wish I had space to .give the full list of the signatories. It seems to me to include intellectuals belonging to every conceivable walk of' life or school of thought, and one is inclined to ask, if all these British men and women are so emphatically democratic, who can there be in this country, except the spectacular Fascists, Communists and Socialist League- ites, to keep our revolution going when once it is started ?