19 MAY 1973, Page 4

Another Spectator's Notebook

I found myself, at the Downing Street party for the publication of Nigel Fisher's book on lain Macleod, standing opposite Anthony Barber. Hardened smoker though I am I, in these unregenerate and unenlightened days, do not really expect anybody else in company to love the goddess nicotine. As I fumbled between cigarettes, lighter and glass, the Chancellor proffered ignition. I then remembered that, of course, he is a smoker, and proffered my weeds. He declined with a chuckle, produced his own, and remarked that mine were not strong enough in nicotine. How my heart warmed to him.

Also of the company was Peter Walker, a non-smoker though, unlike so many, not priggish or hung-up about it. He, it appears, genuinely does not care for tobacco, though he tried it for a time when he was in the army, "in order to find out what the attraction was." Neither man had any very strong view about the Prime Minister's ban on smoking in Cabinet. Tony Barber was, naturally, mildly against, but said he could easily bear to lay off, provided nobody else in the company was indulging. Peter Walker was relieved by the ban, since he had regularly sat next to Geoffrey Rippon in the good old smoking days of the Shadow Cabinet, and could not stand the particularly odoriferous cigars in which the Secretary of State for the Environment likes to indulge. A fact thus discovered was that Ted Heath did not ban smoking in the Shadow Cabinet. Why, I wonder? A journalist friend later suggested that he perhaps felt he lacked the power. I myself feel it was more a matter of style than selfconfidence, and that in future the prime ministerial power to allow or ban smoking will be a minor perk of the office, like appointing bishops, or living in Chequers.

Friedman predictions

One of the most exciting books I have read for a long time is An Economist's Protest, a collection of pieces written for Newsweek by Milton Friedman, the great right-wing American economist, first apostle of floating exchange rates and negative income tax. Friedman's more theoretical works have become well-known in this country recently, partly through the advocacy of his British admirers, partly because so many of his conclusions about the way a modern economy operates, the bankruptcy of the Bretton Woods system, and the intellectual and logical nullity of Keynesianism, have been proven by events. The great value of An Economist's Protest is that the chronological arrangement of the pieces can be used to test the validity of predictions made by him over the years about how the American economy would react given certain actions by the Administration: rarely, indeed, was he wrong. The book was published in America by Thomas Horton. It has been scandalously under-noticed here, and no Eng

lish publisher, so far as I know, has been found for it. My friend Ralph Harris of the Institute of Economic Affairs, who sent me my copy tells that it is obtainable in London only from the Economist bookshop.

Murder in Zanzibar

Another subject much under-reported in this country is the impending semi-judicial murder on the island of Zanzibar of opponents of the regime of the late Shaikh Karume and the present dictator Shaikh Jumbe, about which 'Julius Shariff ' wrote in this paper last week. Nothing, it seems, can be done to save those incarcerated on the island but something, it is conceivable, might be done to prevent President Nyerere of Tanzania, ruler of the mainland state of Tanganyika, and president of the federation it forms with the island, actually handing over to the Zanzibari thugs some of his own detainees. When Bernard Levin drew attention to the plight of these miserable folk, and to Nyerere's singularly ambiguous (I am striving to find the nicest word to describe his behaviour) conduct in their regard, he brought down on his head the pious wrath of Bishop Trevor Huddleston, who found it impossible to believe that his friend could even contemplate so ungentlemanly and unChristian an act; and he quoted an assurance Nyerere had given him that the mainland detainees would not be condemned without due process of law. ' Shariff ' (who first, incidentally, drew attention to this problem in our pages a year ago) noted seven actions of the President, subsequent to that assurance, which cast doubt on its apparent validity. I say ' apparent ', because Bernard Levin has since pointed out to me that the assurance was itself ambiguous, in that, from its wording, due processes or law could be taken to mean either mainland or island law. It is a grim truth that, once before, Nyerere handed over detainees to Karume, having received pro mises that they would be fairly tried: they were not, and died. Without in any way with holding sympathy from Peter Niesewand, it is little short of scandalous that his plight re ceived such lavish attention in Britain while in another Commonwealth country such bar barities have either taken place or are threatened. It is, however, pleasant to note that a Zanzibar Trial Fund has been set up in London, sponsored by Robert Hughes, Frank Judd, Joan Lestor, Hugh Fraser — all mem bers of Parliament — Canon Collins, Lord Brockway, and Lord Macleod, among others. Its limited purpose is to send observers to the Zanzibar trials; even that, one feels, is some thing. But surely there could be much more?

At the pictures

I went recently with some friends to one of

my local cinemas, the Brixton Classic, to see Shaft, a dreadful sub-B American thriller

which had been highly praised. The cinema was largely full of West Indian immigrants.

and the experience fascinating. It demon

strated first of all the utter cynicism of the Hollywood lot who expoit blacks by putting black heroes (like Shaft himself) into sub standard thrillers. The story is about a Negro private eye who becomes involved in various

shenanigans with white cops, black power. black crooks, and the Mafia. The story line was pretty difficult to follow, the hero quite exceptionally stupid and the Mafia even more so, and the action totally implausible. There was, however, some pretentious background music and lots of little incidents showing how the black hero was snubbed in a white world and how he triumphed over it by such devastating means as sleeping with a white girl. and telling the Italian cop that he wasn't really white. The audience, I'm sorry to say, lapped it up, save for one little girl behind us who was obviously bored stiff with the whole thing, wholly (unlike the two middle-aged ladies with her) converted to an Anglo_sagon scale of thriller values (probably at school) and clearly yearning for David Cassidy or, Steve McQueen (as well as, I suspect, a good story). The uncritical docility of the audience later gave me a second helping of food for thought. Halfway through the film the projector broke down (possibly in protest) and the audience sat in perfect quiet for ten min' utes or so until it was repaired. I recall that when I was young, an outbreak of stampeding feet, catcalls and jeers, if not an actual assault on the stage, would have followed anY, such hitch in the proceedings. Anyway. couldn't see these peaceful folk in street riots.

N on-censorship

I never fail to marvel at the irresponsible idiocies. people will utter, or the po-face with which the press will report them. A woman la housewife, I believe) called Enid Wistrich has been appointed chairman of the new GLC s film viewing sub-committee, in effect LO" don's film censor. Her committee has power to license films only if they have been refused an X-certificatie by the Film Censor. Mrs Wistrich first observed, "I think I was chosen because everybody always says, would yo,u take your wife to see that film? ' " Fair, enough. Fair enough, even, that she sho1 1.1° add that she did not approve of censorshiP. But her first remark demonstrated that she accepted that people expected her to exercise some judgement on what she saw. She then stated, "1 was elected to help deal with Low, don's housing., transport, and environments' problems and certainly hot to say what MM.! people should see. I do not believe that this the proper function of a local authoritY. Now, first, nobody can say precisely why theY were elected; and, second, if Mrs Wistrich iS going to refuse to perform a job for which sh? was selected, and the performance of which is one of the duties of the council, then she should not have accepted it in the first place' 'As it is, we are getting somebody of libertarian views not performing a job which .she has taken. Thus, those electors who belle.ve. the job should be done (and try to take a chi to see a film in the West End and see hoW much it needs to be done) are themselves being censored by a hypocrite who acts by inaction, and procures change of an imPor, tant character not by legislation, debate arw, discussion, but by inertia. The final ironY,,°1'. course, is that the only beneficiaries of socl° ist Mrs Wistrich's non-policy will be the 50: ploiting cinema moguls who fill our cinema' with modish trash and laugh all the waY the bank.