18 OCTOBER 1963, Page 7

A Spectator's Notebook REUD once shocked some of his rationalist

r followers by admitting an interest in telepathy: it was, he thought, one of evolution's early attempts to establish a channel of com- munication; possibly it could account for the 'general will' of insect States; and it still mani- fested itself 'in crowds roused to a state of passionate excitement.' Reading the political correspondents on the Blackpool conference, I got the impression of passionate excitement not fostering, but inhibiting, communication of any kind : it was all rather reminiscent of what happens if a pebble is dropped into an ant colony, stimulating a surge of chaotic activity, the ants losing their customary purpose and direction, rushing around distractedly, bump- ing into each other, and exhibiting every species of confusion. Among the correspondents only one kept his head, when all about him were losing theirs and blaming it on the extraordinary mischance of the Premier's illness and resigna- tion coinciding with the Conference : Randolph Churchill had -observed in the 'News of the World before the Denning Report was published that 'he never condescended to speculate'; such speculation, he thought, was neither seemly nor sensible. And at Blackpool he adhered to this principle: while others were submerged in a speculative sea, he knew. It was Claud Cockburn over again (though from a very dif- ferent political angle); as one journalist ruefully put it, Randolph might not have inside informa- tion, but he appeared to have it; and this gave him a distinct advantage. The rest were bemused and bewildered and their stories reflected it. One of them, thinking to steal a march on the rest, absented himself from speculation a while and wrote what he considered to be an unusually thoughtful piece on the Conference itself. When he was half-way through reading it over to his newspaper, the recipient broke in to express surprise that he had not yet referred to the Prime Minister's decision to resign. It was the first that the correspondent had heard of the decision. Blackpool was like that.