A CONSTITUTIONAL ODDITY
SIR,—Mr. Nigel Nicolson, with that good humour which has characterised his behaviour throughout the Bournemouth-Suez controversy, styles himself a 'constitutional oddity.' Maybe the unprecedented situation in which his local Association has placed him is odd, not to mention that of his nominated successor, waiting hopefully in the wings to take his bow at the General Election. Yet none of this is as odd as his Association's behaviour to Mr. Nicolson.
1 have followed, sometimes much embarrassed, the attacks upon Mr. Nicolson in our local press. I have tried also, without success, to discover sound, fundamental reasons why the local Association— a small minority of his constituents—had decided to throw him out. Certainly their accusations of 'disloyalty, ingratitude, lack of patriotism' could not be less true. My knowledge of Mr. Nicolson, of his integrity, his devoted service to his constituency, here and in Parliament, inclines me to suspect that his offences arc no greater than, as he says, failing to recognise 'important constituents in trains.' Perhaps, too, he affrighted more elderly constituents by supporting the abolition of capital punishment, though even they now cry bloodthirstily, 'Off with his head!'
We know, of course, that the charge, as read, is failing to support Sir Anthony Eden in his Suez action. In fact, the causes of offence lie deeper. Mr. Nicolson has proved himself too fearless for village-pump politics though, let it be added, never aloof from affairs which revolve round the pump. He has offended by his honesty of purpose, his defence of principles he believes in, and which he insists are those of his party. Placing conscience above popularity, he has won a moral victory for which his local executive cannot forgive him. Now obstinacy rather than principle prevents that body from admitting its error.
Thus it is that Bournemouth's Association has become the oddity, having created political history (if not creditably) by disowning its sitting Member and supporting a standing one, standing albeit somewhat shakily on a rickety platform—his colleague's alleged unpopularity. Bournemouth's one claim to fame will be that it sent its Member to, and brought one from, Coventry at the same time.-- Yours faithfully,
A ldington, 7 Poole Road, Bournemouth