18 JANUARY 1957, Page 7

THE POLITICAL CORRESPONDENTS of the national newspapers--with the single exception

of one free-lance, Mr. Randolph Churchill—ought to be hanging their heads in shame. Those of them Who tipped at all, tipped Mr. Butler as the new Prime Minister. Why, I wonder, were they all wrong? There is, perhaps, a clue in the article which Mr. Randolph Churchill wrote in Thurs- day's Evening Standard announcing the swing away from Mr. Butler late on Wednesday night. The swing took place, Mr. Churchill says, 'in the bars, the clubs, the salons, the flats and private houses where Tory politicians tend to congregate during a crisis—partly to form a cohesive front and partly to keep away from the press.' To keep away from the press . . . the fact is that the great days of the political correspondent, when he would be on intimate terms with several Cabinet Ministers, are over. Most of them, seeking in- formation, tend to gravitate together in Fleet Street; partly in the hope that the news will come down from on high (from the newspaper pro- prietor); partly to reassure themselves that they are not being scooped by the other assembled correspondents. Fleet Street has become disagree- ably inbred; and Mr. Randolph Churchill's recent articles, whatever one may think of his opinions, should help to blow away the cobwebs.