16 MAY 1969, Page 30

The expendability of Harold

Sir: In view of your past attacks on the Prime Minister one is not surprised to find the hysterical mood in which today's often manu- factured and grossly exaggerated differences in the Labour party are being discussed, affords you yet another chance to intensify the 'per- sonalised' hostility you have always shown to- wards him.

You are wrong in at least three of your assertions. Firstly, you affect to know the atti- tude of a majority of Labour MPs towards Mr Wilson. It is false to state, as you do, that they regard him as 'expendable.' I believe those who may do this represent a mere handful of dis- sident erstwhile supporters who have failed in office or been passed over and not given the promotion where their egotism and self-conceit would find fuller expression than it can on the back benches. This is not an unusual situation whatever party is in power.

Secondly, you have the nerve to say that Mr Wilson would not hesitate to consign Labour to a crushing defeat if this were a prerequisite for his remaining at No. 10. This is to try and fasten on him a totally false charge involving dishonourable conduct of which I know hini to be incapable.

Lastly, you make the disgraceful claim that `the debasement of standards in British public life' is Mr Wilson's 'personal responsibility.' Sir, you, and most of the opposition press have done more to bring this about than perhaps you now realise. History will, I believe, endorse what I say, and will completely acquit the firime Minister of what you allege. It is just such slurs as these which stultify any sane dis- cussion of political issues on any worthwhile basis.

Finally, one feels hurt that the SPECTATOR, in sinking to the same low and discreditable level of public debate which so many 'com- municators' have now chosen to adopt, is to risk being included in what Aneurin Bevan (whom you quote to prove one of your invalid points) not inaccurately described as 'the most prostituted press in the world.'