20 SEPTEMBER 1963, Page 12

SIR, —Henry Fairlie's article makes startling reading. It is true that

he twice says that he is not suggesting that Liberals are fascists; nevertheless, the theme of his article is that Liberalism is the soil in which Fascist and Nazi tendencies flourish.

The arguments by which he seeks to support this contention are so far-fetched—fetched in fact from Austria, Germany and the US—that it is difficult to know where to begin to answer them. If Mr. Fairlie seriously thinks that Liberalism breeds fascism, I can only fall back on Alice in Wonderland. ' "When , I use a word," Humpty'-Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less." ' The really disturbing thing about Henry Fairlie's article is how he could have come to write it. We know that the Conservative Party owes its preserva- tion in office largely to fear. (The electors in recent years have lacked the courage with which their fathers rejected the 'Safety First' appeal of the Conservative leaders in 1929.) Socialism has become something of which hundreds of thousands of Conservatives are pathologically frightened; and be- cause they think the Liberals may 'let Labour in' they have become frightened of the Liberals too. Now all this is understandable in the unthinking, but it is inexcusable in anyone like Henry Fairlie who claims to be a serious political commentator.

As Jo Grimond said in his speech on Saturday to the Liberal Assembly, the Liberal Party must expect a continuance of hostile comment from many quarters. Let it be informed comment, however, and not confused and frightened emotionalism in the process of which Liberalism is widely misrepre- sented.