22 MARCH 1968, Page 30


Sir: It is some comfort to observe that at least your correspondence columns do not reflect the general capitulation to the Government's demonstrable intention that its own guilt should be dwarfed by a luridly dramatised version of Rhodesia's. In the event none but the gullible has been deceived by the orgy of self-righteous flummery: the Britain-Rhodesia dialogue, in the aftermath of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill (1968), surely seems a dispute between assailants as to whether the victim should be worked-over or hanged. And this is not being cynical but factual.

Implicit in the Bill is the quantitative approach to the problem of racial co-existence which Mr Callaghan was at pains to reiterate publicly and always with the clear purpose that political opponent or TV interlocutor should be reduced to dialectical rigor mortis. The argu- ment, which is like sweet unction to the xeno- phobe, is essentially shabby, but quite under- standable as the defence mechanism of a government whose handling of the country's economy has all the lineaments of a mad hatter's tea party. Now, conveniently, the immigrants, like the Conservative party before them, and the business community, and the gnomes of Zurich, have been brought into the cosy socialist (sic) demonology as scapegoats of a monu- mental ineptitude. The houses they promised to build but didn't; the welfare services which they were to transform into paps of milk and honey for their starry-eyed sucklings; the full employment which, by some prodigy of the superlative, would become even fuller: now that all these amiable fantasies have faded, how convenient that there is the dark stranger within the gate and more than a million of the same ilk in Asia to titillate mass hysteria and con- veniently shift the focus of blame.

The consequential point has been so well made by Mr Ralph Harris (Letters, 15 March), that I need only emphasise it. Whatever measures are taken in the future to curb dis- crimination are almost certain to provide aspects of Gothic charade, with the Government, of course, at its simulating best in the effort to impress us all that its virtue, in this respect, remains unsullied. In fact it would be doing no more than darkening the shade of its own smear and in the process, with characteristic gaucherie, exacerbating the xenophobia which its Bill has done everything to foster. For it is a Government that has lost its touch (if indeed it ever had it), so that all its formulations hence- forth are sure to be tainted by a basic insecurity. Pathetically Mr Brown has bowed himself into the shades. Isn't it time that Mr Wilson did likewise? Or will he await the intoning by a national chorus of Mr L. S. Amery's historic adjuration when, in a different context, another government elected to die on its feet?