18 MAY 1962, Page 4

Liberal Challenge M ONTGOMERY SHIRE turned out to the polls in

even greater numbers than at the last general election and, by sending the Liberal back with a majority very nearly three times the late Mr. Clement Davies's, gave Mr. Grimond good cause for rejoicing. Not that the Govern- ment expected, for all its Ministerial efforts on the spot, to gain much comfort from the green hills of mid-Wales. It is too soon yet IV'. the tide of discontent to show any sign of turning; and each Liberal success certainly strengthens the resolution of those awaiting elsewhere their chance to protest. This is by no means the last hard knock which the Tories will have to take, and if the general election were being held in the next two or three months they would indeed have the best of reasons for being down in the mouth. But the Government has time in hand. The upward turn in the economy shows every sign of continuing towards the point where a significant relaxation at home will be justified. This, together with the excitement engendered by the European challenge, is bound in the nature of things to freshen up the Tories' image. How- ever the right wing of the Conservative back benches may groan, Mr. Macmillan is not the man to yield to passing pressures. And whatever the residual effects of this mid-term Liberal re- vival, in the long run it is Mr. Gaitskell who must look to his defences; it is just conceivable that the Liberal momentum might be sustained long enough and forcefully enough to put him briefly into power—and bring about both the destruction of his party and a massive Tory come-back.