THE SPECTATOR'S NOTEBOOK
At last, this week at Brighton, when I heard the noises the marketeers were making, desperately shoring up their hope that their cause was not lost, I found myself agreeing with Enoch Powell's certainty that the pro-Common Market cause was a lost one. The cause has all along Possessed the attributes of failure: the supPort of an establishment quite divorced from public opinion and contemptuous of that opinion; as its leaders men without a scrap of following in the country; representing no interest but themselves and a cause foolish anyway — so foolish that not one academically respectable figure now publicly furthers it.
The weight against
The market cause is a lost cause. This will not prevent the marketeers from espousing It. It will, however, mean that public credibility eludes these Euro-fanatics. The essential madness about the marketeers' Position will, ineluctably, become as apparent to the politicians as it is to the public. The rubbish they talk will become part of the rubbish that the public reject. The absurdity of the Heath-Jenkins position — Which is that the elite people know better than the common people — cannot have been more convincingly shown than by the huge anti-Market vote at the Labour party. The pros were reconciled to defeat. They thought the vote might well have been three to one against, or worse. The antis kneyv they would win. But neither pro nor anti ever dreamed that the Labour party would vote five to one against.
it was very funny listening to the proMarketeers, the Jenkinsites, endeavouring to explain that all was not yet lost — when everyone knew that all was, as a Matter of fact rather than of opinion, already lost. The pro-marketeers were reduced to taking sandwiches for lunch With Nora Beloff, and like avoidances. The Guardian's Peter Jenkins, who has in effect aPpointed himself the spokesman of the Ro, Y Jenkinsites, was reduced to baiting Nicholas Kaldor in the Grand Hotel, saying that a Hungarian could not possibly understand the workings of the British mind and constitution. I found myself asserting that I knew as much (if not more) of that Mind and constitution as could any bloody Welshman.
Harold Wilson's speech, by every account, including that of his enemies, was a good one. It was something of a portmanteau effort : everything, bag and baggage, was brought into it; no one, be he ever so lowly (such ,as, for example, a constituency party worker), was excluded from a back-pat. His professionalism, nevertheless, did not prevent a political success. I am aware of that school of romantic thought which insists that anyone who is any good Cannot be any good. This school not only declares for instance that because Joy Jenkins is politically no good, he must therefore be some good, but also asserts that because Harold Wilson is obviously pretty good, he cannot be any good at all.
Ted's appalling appeal
The general view among delegates was that Mr Wilson has proposed a deal, which was that all the Labour party's marketeers be allowed to flash their consciences on October 28 (when the House of Commons declares its mind on the Common Market), and that subsequently they toe the line. Most of the vehement marketeers interpreted this offer — a very generous one, I'd have thought — as meaning they could subsequently abstain. I proposed this interpretation to Michael Barnes, the Labour member for Chiswick. He seemed to agree: "Having willed the end (i.e. on October 28) we will — the means. We will abstain." I said, "You cannot call abstaining, willing the ends. If Ted Heath appeals to you, what will you do?" He said, "If Ted Heath appeals to us, then of course we will vote for Ted."
I was impressed by such Euro-fanaticism. I wondered whether Roy Jenkins will prove half so loyal as his troops.
The general interpretation of Mr Wilson's speech was subsequently clarified. He was himself so shocked at the nearunanimity in Wednesday's newspapers that he had proposed a deal allowing the Jenkinsites to have their way on October 28 that he went on BBC radio to try to set the record straight. "Integrity," so I was informed was Harold's view, "does not start after October 28. It starts on October 28."
There may only be twenty-four hours in it : but the twenty-four hours are important — it is on October 28 that Members of Parliament vote about Europe. Harold wants their votes then, not merely afterwards.
Louth's uncouth tolerance
The Labour party conference is never without its aside-laughs. It was, for instance, pleasant seeing Humphry Berkeley, dreqsed in a beautiful sea-green tie, talking to his Brighton host and recent followparty-member Tom Skeffington-Lodge, about the nasty young Tory Member of Parliament for Louth, Mr Archer, "who hired an out-of-work actor to impersonate a Swedish count."
It was also enjoyable talking to a Shadow Cabinet chap who was tilled with praise of Wilson. "If," I unfairly asked, "you were Wilson, who would you prefer as your denuly leader?" "Jenkins, of course," was the immediate reply. "I mean, if Jim Cailar,,,han, or Tony Wedgwood Benn or Denis Healey were at your back, you'd feel dicey. But with Roy, now, he can never plunge the knife in. He's too weak."
Wedgwood Benn tries hard : perhaps too hard. His earnestness is daunting. He is really serious about becoming leader—and if he manages it he will certainly be a really serious leader. The following limerick circulates : "Hello! Yes, it's me — Wedgewood Benn — I'm certain I'll reach Number Ten!
For objections to rule By a . . . ing great fool Come only from 'Yesterday's Men ' "
Drink and bombs
Considering the weakness of the drink offered, Private Eye's tenth birthday party was quite successful. A lot of fairly clever hangers-on and their fairly pretty birds came down to Brighton from London. The champagne flowed on the train, warm white wine at the party. Someone said, "If anybody had a bomb he'd get the entire trendy Establishment."
There was a bomb scare earlier in the day. The conference hall was cleared for it. Con Howard, the press counsellor at the Irish Embassy, down in Brighton for the ride, was Irishly amused when an idiot journalist asked him, assuming all Irishmen were experts on the subject, "Tell me, what sort of hole does 151b of gelignite make?" He regrets that he was not swiftwitted enough to reply, "Oh, I must consult my ambassador about that."