1 OCTOBER 1977, Page 18

Sir: It would be a tragic mistake, I feel, if

the Conservative Party were to accept the fallacious and almost cowardly attitude towards the closed shop proposed in your editorial of 17 September. Those Conservatives who willingly — yet disingenuously — profess a belief in human liberty as opposed to licence, judge the attainment of office as a greater necessity than the service of the individual.

Those who are opposed to the closed shop are not malevolent reactionary 'union-bashers'. They simply do not believe in such prestidigitation and will not willingly witness the present Tory Party pursue the Heath Government into the mythical world of the 'middle ground' and 'moderation'. There is a right to join a trade union and an equal and utterly undeniable right to refrain from so doing. For those in the latter category, the point at issue is more than the fatuous sniping which characterised your comments. Sir Keith Joseph's speech upon the Scarman report has struck a chord with many voters — I and many others on the ground know — equal to its erudition. The obsequious`constructive' Toryism of Mr Prior engenders disappointment, fear and hos tility.

' If there is to be an 'anti-closed shop' amendment to the ridiculous motion to be placed before the conference, I see no reason why disagreement should not be viewed publicly. It will serve to remind a bemused electorate that perhaps the Tory Party is divided over more than just the issue of the closed shop: it is fundamentally split on the most important tenets of policy, whatever Mrs Thatcher and the party hierachy may like to pretend.

Simon-John Coates Vice-Chairman, Great Dunmow and District Young Conservatives, Great Dunmow, Essex