7 FEBRUARY 1964, Page 13

Spectator's Notebook

free Labour Party political broadcast. Now the same week, protected by the programme was a gift for rama is the equivalent of a thing is being said of Mr. Wilson. What could be fairer than to put up IT is an article of faith amongst Tories that Pano- Gallery. Certainly last six businessmen against Mr. Wilson to question him on his Swansea speech? In fact, the (pre- dictable) result was to send the Stock Exchange reeling again next day. Of the panel, Sir Joseph Lockwood may perhaps be adjudged to have earned a draw: the rest were knocked out. It was particularly sad to see the slaughter of the man with the best case. The representative of the iron and steel industry, who asked why Mr. Wilson wanted to nationalise a modern and efficient industry, was obviously terribly nice. He is, no doubt, as a businessman terribly efficient. Yet the TV impact was terrible. He smiled cheer- fully throughout at Mr. Wilson as if the Socialist proposals were just what his firm wanted. Mr. Wilson didn't attempt to answer the question. He said (twice) that of course he could answer it if only he had half an hour or so, but there was, unfortunately, only a short time left.

When his questioner produced a relevant statis- tic, Mr. Wilson promptly countered with an irrelevant one. And instead of the programme ending in uproar (cf. Boothby-Foot in Free Speech), everything was sweetness and light. Might not Gallery next time ask the Iron and Steel Federation to nominate someone instead of picking their own lamb? For if the industry is going to engage Mr. Wilson or any other politi- cian on these matters it ought to have its case put by Robin Day. Or Quoodle.