21 APRIL 1979, Page 5


The great election battle between Callaghan the 'crusader' and Thatcher the 'conviction Politician' has so far failed to generate the anticipated excitement. But there is, of Course, still time. Meanwhile, Mr Peregrine Worsthorne has eloquently aired the one national anxiety which could just conceivably lose Mrs Thatcher the election. A couple of weeks back in his Sunday TeleMph column, he expressed the fear that the British do not, in fact, wish to lose their Chains, that tax cuts, far from releasing reserves of energy, will simply expose their absence, that when the lid is taken off the kettle, no steam will come out. He was gently mocked for these subversive fears by his Daily Telegraph colleague Colin Welch, Within whom, no doubt, a head of steam is building up, waiting to be released. But Whether or not Mr Worsthorne is right, I feel sure that millions share his doubts. They have seen what happened, or what didn't happen, when Mr Heath exposed us to the stiff breeze of competition from the Common Market. It is to Mrs Thatcher's credit that she appears so confident that we Will grasp the opportunities she offers us. In an interview with the editor of the Daily Mail on Tuesday, she said that tax and exPenditure cuts would be 'an Act of Faith that if we give people a chance with their Own money, if we put the ball at their feet, a great number will take it, start running and score some goals.' I felt a little pang when I read this, for my first report by the sports Master at my prep school said simply of my Performance at soccer: 'He prefers to avoid the ball'.

Lt me agree, at any rate, with the concluslon of Colin Welch's article: 'Whoever found perpetual worry about money and zontinual harassment by the Inland Revenue conducive to creative thought and activity? Quite so. But tax cuts will not alone be sufficient to create a sense of well-being (conducive to greater achieve:tient) among the country's industrial managers. Whether or not they are as heavily taxed in comparison with other countries as they like to think they are, they are certainly a good deal less wel l paid. British managers earn far less than their equivalents in any pther Common Market country apart, poss1,13.1Y, from Ireland. A British managing ntrector, for example, earns less than half a Managing director in Belgium, Holland, France, Germany or Italy. A personnql manager earns about a quarter. A general Manager in a Belgian company may earn about £2,200 a month; in Britain he will not .get more than about £890 a month. These 'acts may be familiar, but they seem to have been ignored in the current debate about the supposedly liberating effects of tax reductions. If the temptation to emigrate is to be removed, earnings will have to rise dramatically as well.

The Daily Mirror, I was surprised to learn from its editorial on Tuesday, is 'independent of all political groups'. I had always thought of it as wedded to the Labour Party, partly, perhaps, because so many of its former chieftains were ennobled by Sir Harold Wilson. But today it sees itself as the only Fleet Street newspaper, apart from the Guardian, which can lay claim to independence, although it supports the re-election of Labour. The basis for this claim is that the proprietors of all the other dailies are Tories. Of the Daily Telegraph, for example, it says: 'Lady Hartwell's father was a Tory cabinet minister. So was the present editor, William Deedes. Its political editor, David Harris, was recently chosen as a Tory Euro-Candidate'. None of this seems to me very significant. It is perfectly possible for anybody to move from politics into journalism and conduct himself in an impeccably independent manner. But given that the Mirror wished to attack the Telegraph on these grounds, it is surprising that it did not strike at the paper's genuinely weak point. Two of the Telegraph's leader writers — Mr T.E. Utley, and Mr Alfred Sherman — are actually in the pay of the Conservative Party at the moment. Mr Utley is Mrs Thatcher's principal speech-writer and Mr Sherman works for Sir Keith Joseph at the Centre for Policy Studies. Another leader writer is Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne who, until his recent return to parliament as Conservative MP for Knutsford, was simultaneously working at Conservative Central Office. All three are excellent journalists, and the Telegraph is fortunate to have the benefit of their services. But might not many Telegraph readers reasonably expect the paper's leading articles to be written, especially now, by ' outside observers of the political battle, and not by participants in it?

Britain's haste in recognising the new government of Uganda is comparable only to our haste in recognising Idi Amin when he seized power in 1971. It should not obscure the responsibility of successive British governments for sustaining the monster in office. Even after the extent of Amin's atrocities had become known, Britain continued to purchase his coffee and send him planeloads of spare parts and replacements for his British-made vehicles and machinery, not to mention whisky and brandy for himself and his brother officers. Only when Amin was tottering did we stop the Stansted Airport shuttle. We may, as Dr Owen now says, be 'glad to see the back of him', but while he was there, our only major gesture of disapproval was the closure of the British High Commission in Kampala in 1976. This followed years of threats and insults from Amin and prompted him to declare himself 'Conqueror of the British Empire'. What is surprising, however and to the credit of the Ugandans is that when the mysterious Mr Posnett of the Foreign Office arrived last week to re-open the High Commission, it had neither been broken into nor looted during the past two years of turmoil. Unlike the Spectator's offices in Doughty Street, which have been burgled twice in the past two weeks.

The presentation of the Academy awards in Hollywood took place last week. This always provides an opportunity for a lot of rubbish to be spoken, but never has such twaddle been uttered as by Laurence Olivier, who was given a special award for being Laurence Olivier. I quote from his acceptance speech which the audience found so moving: 'Mr President and governors of the Academy, committee members, Fellows, my very noble and approved good masters, my colleagues, my friends, my fellow students in the great wealth, the great firmament of your nation's generosities, this particular choice may perhaps be found by future generations as a trifle eccentric but the mere fact of it, the prodigal, pure, human kindness of it must be seen as a beautiful star in that firmament which shines upon me at this moment, dazzling me a little, but filling me with warmth and the extraordinary elation, the euphoria that happens to so many of us at the first breath of the majestic glow of the new tomorrow. From the top of this moment, in the solace, in the kindly emotion that is charging my soul and my heart at this moment, I thank you for this great gift which lends me such a very splendid part in this your glorious occasion. Thank From the top of this moment, I think I will now go out to the pub and buy myself a drink.