7 FEBRUARY 1969, Page 28

A touch of the Enochs ?

Sir : I always enjoy the SPECTATOR whether, in its columns, from time to time, I am praised or blamed. To be called one week (6 December 1968) the Madame de Sevigne of the Labour movement and the next a 'dazzled and awed' admirer of the Premier ('Spectator's notebook,' 24 January) seems, to say the least, to show a measure of inconsistency of outlook among your commentators which is, perhaps, one of your paper's chief attractions nowadays.

I always thought that Madame de Sevigne was one of the last people to fawn on anyone, let alone to be 'dazzled' by their good or bad qualities. She was no sycophant, and, after due thought, what she saw clearly she expressed clearly. I would like to think, and I feel he might agree with me, that that is my own ob- jective outlook, not only in relation to Mr Wilson, but to everyone else in politics.

Not long ago I was interviewed by a repre- sentative of a paper hostile to the Prime Min- ister. It had, with many others, including the SPECTATOR, been abusing, if not slandering him, for months on end, in language which danger-

ously 'personalised' political issues. When it was found I was not one of his appointed `stooges'—and I know of none—and that there was no 'juicy' story out of which capital might be made behind my backing for him, I was left alone to carry on as your readers may know me, as one of his, not always uncritical supporters.

The wheel of public opinion is likely to turn full circle before long. It has already started moving following Mr Wilson's masterly per- formance on Panorama recently. It is, surely, just because of the violence of the unjustified attacks made on him that the Prime Minister_ could very quickly make a dramatic corgcback, and obtain the due recognition to which he is entitled as the most competent peacetime Pre- mier of the century. Churchill was even more abused and ostracised by the prewar Tories and their journalist satellites, than has been Mr Wil- son. Gladstone, probably one of this country's greatest statesmen, came under the hammer from similar quarters with such bitter hostility that even the Queen herself became alienated from him and treated him disgracefully. Things are better now, and at least there is not the slightest reason to think that our present Queen does not have the fullest confidence in Mr Wilson.

As to the 'titanic duel' about which J. W. M. Thompson seeks to whet your readers' appetites for the forthcoming Brighton Pavilion by-elec- tion, he has got facts wrong. A three-cornered fight has already been announced. I and my sup- porters will be putting up as good a show as we can to save the seat going to my extreme right- wing Tory opponent. All should realise how- ever, and we do down here, that to make an impact on a Tory constituency in the present climate of opinion, however 'titanic' the effort, is not easy, despite the current and undoubted volatility of public opinion. I will be fighting in the confident belief that, broadly speaking, the Government's policies are right, that no viable alternatives to them are ever clearly stated, and that many of its unpopular decisions would never have been necessary had it not been for the gross neglect of its predecessors. Even you, sir, seem to acknowledge my last-named claim to be right, when you castigate the Tories for their past failure to deal with the problem of industrial relations (`The union-Castle line,' 24 January).

When the struggle ahead is over I am going to opt out of the material 'rat race' in which all too many of us are involved by having a short spell in a monastery. Whether I will have to seek permission from the Labour Whips for the fulfilment of this plan remains to be seen! T. C. Skeffington-Lodge 5 Powis Grove, Brighton