17 JUNE 1949, Page 5

It is possible that not many readers of this column

are also readers of the Sunday Express. Those who are will be familiar with a weekly political column whose author styles himself Cross-Bencher. From the air of authority with which his dicta are invested he would appear to be among the most weighty of back-benchers in the House of Commons (for there are, in fact, no cross-benchers in that Chamber) though it is hard to think of anyone who would admonish, assail and on occasion denounce his colleagues with such pontifical confidence. Yet Cross-Bencher's views should themselves identify him. In his column in the Beaverbrook organ he out-Beavers the Beaver himself in his laudations of Tory Imperialism ; any Conservative who fails to conform to that austere standard whenever he opens his mouth or takes up his pen is a Conservative doomed. Who, on such internal evidence, can Cross-Bencher be divined to be ? On which of the four benches behind Mr. Churchill does he sit ? The answer is that he sits on none of them. For Cross-Bencher is not a member of the House of Commons. He is not a member of the Conservative Party. He stands not to the Right of it but to the Left. He is not only a Liberal, but a prospective Liberal candidate for a Northern constituency, adopted in all due and proper order by the local association. In his column last Sunday Cross-Bencher spoke of the success of two political columnists in securing election to the Labour Party executive. " Columnists," he said, " are always popular with the party they support. I can think of only one possible exception. For I cannot see the Tories ever plumping politically for me." I do not always agree with Cross-Bencher, but here he has taken the very words out of my mouth.