27 APRIL 1956, Page 5

Portrait of the Week

still face many obstacles.' Mr. Bulganin admitted after the weekend; and hardly were the words out of his mouth than he and Khrushchev were up against a very formidable obstacle indeed : an alliance between Hugh Gaitskell and Aneurin Bevan, unexpectedly united in Social Democratic fervour. The term 'Social Democrat' is like a pink rag to a Bulganin: and the Labour Party plea that fellow-socialists in the satellites should be restored to their liberty apparently aroused Khrushchev almost to gibbering fury. Former Fascists may be freed, yes; and former concen- tration camp guards; but Social Democrats, never.

As the B. and K. visit wore on, it wore thin. The real mistake, they now must realise, was sending Malenkov, as official food- taster, first. So far from being poisoned, Malenkov enjoyed himself enormously; his pleasure was infectious; he was liked. Perhaps Mr. Bulganin would have been liked, too, if he had been given half a chance; but acting as the mute to Khrush- chev's trumpet hardly showed him at his best. As for Mr. Khrushchev, the forked tail has peeped out too often for comfort.

In retrospect, their visit to Oxford was probably the best thing that could have happened to them. How curious it must be for men who have lived their lives in a country where official legs can never he pulled publicly, to have their own publicly and entertainingly pulled. And the visit could be productive of even more satisfying entertainment. At the reception in London on Tuesday night, a milling crowd of thirsty guests beat each other over the head with canapes in their efforts to reach the champagne tables (a surge tactfully attributed by the BBC to 'their efforts to see the Russian leader'). Among this crowd was Charlie Chaplin : and if he cannot incorporate the episode into his new film he is not the man we thought him.

Was it imagination, or did the world stop momentarily in its course to watch the progress of this extraordinary visit? Certainly the trouble centres gave less trouble. In the Middle East, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Yemen came together in a five-year military pact providing for a unified command; but Past experience suggests that the unity is likely to be more formal than real. In Algeria the rebels have taken savage reprisals against villagers who appealed to the French—some weeks ago—for protection. In Cyprus the melancholy record of violence and repression continues unchecked, and with no sign of approaching agreement. How can there be, when there is no longer any Cypriot authority with whom to agree ? The Government's record on Cyprus is so anemic that it has moved the Archbishop of Canterbury to make a firm protest. It is six weeks since he put forward proposals for a settlement; he has evidence that they were welcomed by moderate opinion In Cyprus; but the Government has done nothing, and the number of moderates in Cyprus dwindles with every day of its Inaction. There was, however, one vaguely hopeful sign. Students of The Times have come to regard its leaders on cer- tain subjects, of which Cyprus is one, as judicious kite-flying. I he kite flew before Makarios was sent into exit; it flew again this week with a rather sad editorial, hinting that it is all very well to declare that the restoration of law and order must pre- cede negotiation : but what happens if law and order cannot be restored ? The Times notes the humiliating fact that although 15.000 troops are now hunting fewer than 500 Eoka terrorists, acts of terrorism have shown no decline; and it con- cludes that, failing the capture of the terrorist leaders, 'the soldiers' best hope is luck.' Not a very heartening message to send around the world.

The lessons of Cyprus may yet prove useful in the negotia- tions with Mr. David Marshall and others over the future of Singapore. As Mr. Vernon Bartlett has put it, all the Singapore delegates want merdeka (freedom), but some want more merdeka than others; and Mr. Lennox-Boyd is faced not merely with the practical problems of how to gear security and strategy to a changing administration, but also with the psychological problem of whose views to trust. Mr. Marshall is the man in possession; no fool, but a demagogue and inclined, if recent reports have been fair, to identify himself too closely with the popular will at a time when the popular will may well be swinging away from him. How far his brand of merdeka represents the constitutional needs of Singapore, and how far simply the political needs of Mr. Marshall, is something Mr. Lennox-Boyd will have carefully to study.

At home, the event of the week was undoubtedly the pub- lication of the first volume of Sir Winston Churchill's History of the English-Speaking Peoples, which has moved even the most crabbed academicians to praise. The introduction of Summer Time (provoking a nephew of William Willett to lament that this institution is no longer known by its original title, more expressive of its purpose: Daylight Saving) and the arrival of the Australian cricket team were both harbingers of summer; swiftly belied, as usual, by chilly early mornings.

On the industrial front the outlook remains bleak. A new `Plan for Coal' has been made necessary because the old plan got bogged down in rising costs, rising wages, and inflation; no doubt in a year's time there will have to be a new New Plan. for the same reason. The changes in British Overseas Airways reveal that a Conservative Government, put into power to free the people from bureaucratic tentacles, have eased out the Corporation's old hands, preparatory to handcuffing it to the Department of Civil Aviation. Mr. Watkinson has been either very foolish, or very ill-advised.

The innovation of the week, described by Mr. C. A. Joyce, the headmaster of an approved school, is notable in its ingenious simplicity. He has made his solitary confinement room com- fortable, so that no longer can the toughs come out of 'solitary' saying, 'They can't break me—I can take it."One thing none of us can bear,' Mr. Joyce is reported as explaining, 'is to look stupid when we are trying to look big.' Mr. Khrushchev should ponder that one.