29 JANUARY 1960, Page 3


Tlin different atmosphere in the negotiations about Kenya, which we noted last week, has been even more marked in the last few days. In his survey of the background to the conference, T. R. M. Creighton remarks on the fact that as little as ten years ago the idea of an African . delegation negotiating in this way in London would have been inconceivable; he might also have remarked that as little as 2 year ago the idea of an English Colonial. Secretary displaying such patient clear-headedness would have been just as hard to credit. Mr. Lennox-Boyd showed no mean skill at easing the transition of African nations to independence where independence was obviously 'inevitable—in Ghana and in Nigeria: What he could not do was extricate himself from settler prejudices where a strong European resistance movement existed—in Kenya and in Central AfriCa. Mr Macleod has shown that he realises there cannot, in the long run, be any difference between Nigeria and Kenya; that the Africans will eventually be masters in their own land. and that the only question is whether the transition is effected peaceably, enabling all the races. to live together in harmony, or whether the pattern of revolution and repression will recur and disaster follow.

There' also seems a general and welcome dis- position to regret the not-an-inch ultimatum which earlier threatened to wreck the Cyprus negotiations. True, attempts arc still being made to justify the claim for absolute British sovereignty over the bases, on the grounds— according to The Times—that `if the bases ace British territory they could he used in operations. involving other countries, without involving the future republic of Cyprus% whereas if the bases were leasehold the Republic would automatically be involved. This argument may have some theoretical value, but in practice, of course, the Republic would.hc involved either way. If hostili- ties broke out in the Middle East involving Britain, the enemy would certainly (if he could) bomb the bases; and his aim would not have to be very inaccurate to 'involve' the Cypriots as well. But in any case, the lesson of the Irish ports shows that such bases are useless .unless they are in friendly territory; those in Cyprus Will merely be a standing vote-catchcry for extremists on Right and Left.

The virtues of compromise arc evidently coming to be recognised even in the most unex- pected places. The Sunday Times's leading article this week asserted, about the Cyprus negotiations, that 'Statesmanship, not least that of Archbishop Makarios, saved the day, and time and tolerance have been given their chance to effect a rescue.' Regular readers of the Sunday Times over the past few years, particularly those who switched to it over Suez, must have wondered whether their newsagent had sent the wrong posh Sunday by mistake; and there was worse to come, for the: editorial even backed Mr. Koinange: 'the obstinacy of the European delegations on this issue excited little sympathy . . . the Kenya Europeans seem to have acted on weak prin- ciples and shortsighted calculation.'

Well . . , who would have thought it?