20 SEPTEMBER 1963, Page 12


SIR,-Mr. Corelli Barnett rightly points the connec- tion between Constantine FitzGibbon's assess- ment of the present chances for fascism in this country and my own description of Martell and his movement. Yet in the same issue you have Henry Fairlie lashing at the Liberals as 'the extremists of the centre,' and totally failing to recognise the basic distinction between the pink radicalism of Mr. Grimond's party (as plentifully evidenced at Brighton) and the dreary blue whiggery of Martell and company.

Certainly the blue whigs, with what Barnett calls their 'extreme backward-looking laissez-faire-ism,' number some Liberal renegades in their ranks. Those renegades have been well and truly drummed out of the party, and so I simply want to make one point to indicate to Mr. Fairlie and those who share his misconception how deep is the dividing gulf.

The point lies in the respective fundamental concerns of the Liberal Party and the radical right. At the bottom of our policies for social reform, we Liberals basically believe that government's business is to promote and foster the positive freedoms—free- dom from want and freedom from fear. Martellery, with its vaunted emphasis on the negative freedoms— freedom of speech and so on—denies government its proper function as a pace-setter, and with a lot of claptrap about national prestige, offers a way back towards barbarism.

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