29 APRIL 1955, Page 7


MR. WOODROW WYATT, I read, has shaken the dust of Birming- ham from his feet, with the slightly embittered comment : 'One should not expect any gratitude in politics and I certainly have not had it from Birmingham.' It was at Birmingham. curiously, that 1 received my first (and lasting) instruction in the nature of political ingratitude. I happened to be present when the votes were being counted in the Sparkbrook division of Bir- mingham in 1945. When Mr. L. S. Amery, who had represented the division for thirty-four years, realised that he had been de- feated—and by someone of no particular importance called Shurmer—he looked an utterly broken man. It was not only that the service which he had given to the division and to Parliament was as selfless as any; but also that for him Bir- mingham, with its links with Joseph Chamberlain, was his spiritual home. The political tide which brought the Labour Party to power had washed over all this, in one night. It is not precisely ingratitude, for gratitude does not enter into the cal- culations of voters. But it is a heartless business none the less.