26 DECEMBER 1931, Page 1

A Centre Party ?

• The rumour that the Prime Minister is setting to work to construct a new permanent National Party rests on no firmer foundation than the rival rumour that he is angling for reunion with his former Labour colleagues— and that appears to rest on none at all. Such reports inevitably spring to birth by spontaneous generation in circumstances like those of to-day. Mr. MacDonald himself in his brief leisure at Lossiemouth no doubt indulges occasionally in some mild speculation as to his political future, though the preoccupation of his political present leaves him little enough time for that. The idea of the emergence of a lasting National Party out of the temporary association of men like the Prime Minister, Mr. Baldwin, Sir John Simon and Sir Herbert Samuel is very natural, and the conditions are in many ways propitious for the evolution of a Centre Party such as has never acclimatized itself in the British political atmosphere. An instructive and altogether encouraging sign of the times is the steady movement of a considerable section of the rank-and-file in the House of Commons towards that position. If new problems can be faced in a new spirit under the leadership of men capable of rising above the limitations of party, the country can face its future with fresh hope. But it is essential that the leaders should have behind them sufficient backing in Parliament to enable them to dis- regard extremist assaults from either wing. At present there is every indication that the centre is steadily gaining ground.