20 JANUARY 1950, Page 3


LIFE would be a good deal brightened if all the com- ments on Mr. Priestley's broadcast could be assembled and neatly presented. There was the suggestion that fifteen or twenty years ago people had no money to buy things with—and Mr. Manningham - Buller's reminder that twenty years ago a Socialist Government was in office. There was the observation that many artists are badly off ; "I find that with my plays, which in London drew much of their audience from the professional middle-class, many of whose members can no longer afford much theatre-going " ; but what class is it that crowds to James Bridle's plays, or Christopher Fry's, or Tennessee Williams's, or many others ? There is Mr. Walker- Smith's apt quotation from Mr. Priestley's Delight: " I swing violently from enthusiasm to disgust. I change policies as a woman changes hats. I base my judgement on anything or nothing " ; and the Daily Mail's opportune disinterment of an appreciation of an earlier pronouncement of Mr. Priestley's by one of the Left Wing light-weights, Mr. Michael Foot: "He befuddles the whole issue, and shows a bovine insensibility to what is really happening in our world." Altogether an exhilarating broadcast.

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Some confusion of thought on the everlasting question of election expenses is bound to persist until the election is over, and with every word he utters on the subject it becomes clearer that that is precisely what Mr. Herbert Morrison wants. Neither in his speech at Lewisham on Monday nor in any earlier utterance has he made any real attempt to put the thing. clearly. The burden of his song was " be careful," and behind that seemingly jocular warning there lay, as there always has from the outset, a threat. It is a sad comment on the- state of public spirit that the threatened organ- isations—with the single exception of Messrs. Tate and Lyle—have covered up their posters and toned down their campaigns. If Mr. Morrison is bluffing—and some aspects of his argument, including his attempt to prove that Lord Simon, as a member of the House of Lords, had no right to speak his mind, are certainly bluff—then he is bluffing very successfully. Mr. Cube can hardly attract more public sympathy than any other puerile publicity device, but what Mr. Cube stands for, the right of free men to express their opinions even in the face of threats, is fundamental and valuable. It is a pity that so few people are asserting that right in the face of Mr. Morrison's threats.

* * * * The Bishop of Woolwich's letter in The Times on the Churches and Parliamentary candidates raises very interesting questions. The Bishop quotes cases in which in particular constituencies all candi- dates were invited to a meeting called by the local churches to declare the religious and moral principles on which their policy was based. In at least one other and recent case something more like a statement of personal belief has been asked for. The motives here are undoubtedly good, but not equally necessarily the method. The temptation to profess a creed that will catch votes is manifest, and the scrupulously honest man (or woman) may be placed at a definite disadvantage. There is one other consideration. When it comes to administering public affairs a competent Christian is to be preferred to a competent pagan. But suppose it is a choice between a foolish Christian and a wise pagan ?

* * * * By the abolition of the University seats Labour may count on eliminaling at least seven opponents. Sir John Anderson, who is described as a " National," Sir John Graham Kerr, Mr. Walter Elliot, Professor Savory, Mr. Pickthorn and Mr. Strauss, who are Conservative, and Sir Ernest Graham-Little, who ranks as Independent, habitually voted against them ; some of the other University Independents sometimes did. Of the dozen University Members Mr. Walter Elliot, Professor Savory, Mr. Pickthorn and Mr. Strauss are seeking other homes. The other eight are apparently dropping out—or perhaps living on the hope that the Conservatives will be returned and restore the University seats Party pacts between Conservatives and Liberals seem bound to run into difficulties, though not at all because, as Mr. Morrison thinks, " any Liberal elected to Parliament by a Conservative with- drawal becomes a political prisoner of the Conservative Party in the next Parliament." Few Liberals would be likely to accept bondage to that degree. But the position needs to be made clearer. Take the Huddersfield West pact. The Conservatives in that division have withdrawn opposition to the Liberal candidate, Mr. D. W. Wade, who is strongly opposed to the Iron and Steel Act and to any further proposal for nationalisation and has stated : " I would not, if elected, support a vote of confidence in an administration pledged to a Socialist policy." But votes of confidence are rare. All kinds of issues of the first importance are voted on without any technical question of confidence being raised. The National Health Service Act is an example. Does the electoral pact apply to such cases as these ? If not it covers a very narrow field. West Hudders- field, incidentally, is a new constituency, the undivided borough having been represented hitherto by J. P. W. Mallalieu.

This question of party politics in the pulpit.

" Between the pressure of the two class parties, the great Liberal Party had been squeezed out because it was not identi- fied with any social class. But he would risk the prophecy that if the Liberal Party could overcome its internal difficulties, develop a genuine inner dynamism, and present an attractive programme, it might burst the Marxist integument binding our political life and earn the deepest gratitude of all true democrats. it might break through the artificial barriers of class and set politics once more on a firm foundation of principle. But first of all the conditions must be fulfilled."—The Rev. C. 0. Rhodes in St. Paul's Cathedral. January 15th.

All very true, without doubt. But in St. Paul's Cathedral, six weeks before an election ? Is this an example to be copied—by the Dean of Canterbury. for example ?

Mr. Winston Churchill's first broadcast in the 1945 General Election campaign was not one of the happiest of the Conservative contribution to that series of addresses, The talk Mr. Churchill is to give on Saturday of this week will, there is reason to believe, be of a very different calibre. If it turns out so the fact will be of the first importance, for no single personality is capable of having more effect on the issue of the election.

* * * * But Mr. Churchill should not have come home from Madeira with a cliché—wanting to put this country " at the head of an Empire on which the sun never sets." Will Crooks once tried, as an experiment, 10 stimulate a lady in his constituency (Poplar) to patriotic consciousness of her citizenship in such an Empire. Her response was, " Blimey, Will, and to think that I live in an alley where the sun never shines."

* * * * " For the time no doubt we have probably come near to the limit of re-distribution of wealth by way of taxes on income. But there is a long way yet to go in re-distribution of property, particularly inherited property."—Mr. Douglas Jay, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, at Battersea. Certainly. There are tens of thousands of widows and orphans to be soaked further yet. It distracts their minds from their bereavement.

For profundity beyond all fathoming the reference in the Labour Party's Manifesto to the nationalisation of the iron and steel industry (the only reference to that achievement) calls for high laudation: " When private monopoly is replaced by public owner- ship the steel industry will be responsible to the nation." Contradict that if you can.