18 MAY 1962, Page 5

Mr. Butler on Tour

From a Correspondent


rrilE contrast in the atmosphere that greeted I Mr. Butler in Salisbury and here in Blan- tyre was almost tangible. There the Europeans were edgy, the Africans openly hostile. Here, where Dr. Banda sets the tone, good will and assurance are equally marked, and the Home Secretary gives every sign of being resolved to retain that good will. Mr. Butler may use his study of Nyasaland's economic needs to gain time, but, fortified by Lord Kilmuir's ruling of March 26 that secession is strictly a matter for Westminster, he looks like standing firm.

Unlike Mr. Sandys last February, Mr. Butler has made a highly favourable impression on public and press both here and in Salisbury. He seemed to have an unexpected grasp of the vast problems involved in the Federal issue, though on the Southern Rhodesian problem he had already bowed to his constitutional limitations in the Commons debate before flying here, and it was this that angered the Africans. With or without his Commons speech and despite his powers of persuasion, Mr. Butler seems to have come too late on the darkening scene in Southern Rhodesia. The Africans are beyond listening to Britain, and Sir Edgar Whitehead would not think of sacrificing his career on an immediate • extension of African franchise. Whatever his public position, Mr. Butler was probably ready when he reached Salisbury to try his hand privately with his old friend Sir Edgar. But the latter's refusal to meet him did not help—there is little hope of any change of mind here--and the brutality that went with Monday's strike has both impressed him with the urgency of the situation and rendered him more powerless as an intermediary.