21 JUNE 1975, Page 7

A Spectator's Notebook

I understand there is a good deal of rather grand philosophical reflection going on among what used to be called the Gayfrere set, now mainly old chums of Ted Heath, and currently and especially including Mr and Mrs Charles Morrison — he Tory backbencher, she former vice-chairman of the party who resigned the instant Margaret Thatcher became leader. According to this speculation that dear old middle class which is currently taking up much TV time is dead, and a jolly good thing too. The object of the Tory operation should now, it appears, be to cultivate the workers, perhaps to absorb them into a new technocratic elite, perhaps to establish with them the kind of relationship the old aristos had. Nobody says much of this in public, of course, lest it give offence to the still predominantly middle class Tory voters, on whom, it is thought, even EH will in part depend for his comeback. Mrs Morrison, of course, is noted for grand speculation: once confronted with the idea that membership of the EEC might pose some danger to the Sovereignty of Parliament she waved a hand and declared that Parliament was already out of date. I am very happy to leave all this sociologising to the beaten Gayfrere crew: what puzzles me about their set is the intimacy Of some brighter Tories, and notable Mr Timothy Raison, with them.

Army history

I lunched the other day with Britain's most active Field Marshal, the great Sir Gerald Templar, conqueror of Malaya, at the National Army Museum, along with its director, the delightful and enthusiastic Bill Reid, who departed the following day for Iran to help the Iranians found their own NAM. To my eternal shame I had never visited the museum (on Royal Hospital Road) before, and I was entranced by what I found there. Though founded on a shoestring — many of the display cases are second-hand, and often cunningly restructured to look, in sets, uniform — the museum, thanks to the hard work of Bill Reid and his assistants, has a gracious and efficient air. It is particularly rich in British army uniforms, and possesses many thousands of prints, books and mementoes. It is beautifully laid out for ease of inspection and, at certain points in the display the visitor can play for himself appropriate period army songs. I, treasure one little anecdote from the day. Sir Gerald proclaims that he does not care for children. Reid once introduced him to a friend and three small boys. The Field Marshal shook hands with each one gravely and then declared: "For small boys you have remarkably unsticky fingers", thus preserving a nice heart behind a gruff image. Anyway, bring your children to the NAM if you have any; if not, go yourself.


Paul Johnson's article in the New Statesman a few weeks back, 'A Brotherhood of National Misery,' attacking the trade unions drew not unexpected praise. He is probably the finest polemical pen in what I call the John 0' Gaunt tradition. However, no one opposed to collectivism should be reassured. In business terms the socialism he defends so eloquently is all about the sharing of wealth. The greedy trade unionism he castigates is all about the sharing of income. Between them, one has the balance sheet, and the other the profit and loss account. 'The Bitotherhood of National Misery' is a spurious attack disguising a concerted thrust against freedom.

NATO and the EEC

The Institute for the Study of Conflict has now published its report, "New Dimensions of Security in Europe," from documents presented at an international conference at Ditchley Park in April.

Of interest, in view of the recent EEC debate on sovereignty, was a comment that if NATO defence is to be organjsed on a more rational and cost-effective basis, this would "require nothing less than the conversion of NATO from an international to a partially supranational organisation".

One of the problems posed by the enlarged EEC which was, perhaps intentionally, not brought out by the 'pro' lobby is that the potentially divisive influence that the EEC may in the future have on NATO, upon which the security of Europe rests. It is significant that neither of the two NATO countries who have direct borders with Russia, Norway and Turkey are in the EEC nor is the major NATO power, the USA.

If one is to reduce to a phrase the major lesson brought out in this latest ISC study, it is for the need of maintaining realistic political views of detente and therefore of the will to keep strong defences, in the face of the continuing fact of Soviet military might. Unfortunately, despite the latest round cif cuts in defence expenditure the Labour left wing is still exerting pressure for more short term reductions. The parallel between the 'thirties and 'seventies is indeed quite marked.

Freedom campaigners

'Free Enterprise Week' (July I to 6) is the brainchild of Mr Michael Ivens of Aims of Industry. It is interesting to speculate on to whom Mrs Margaret Thatcher will be presenting the 'Free Enterprise' award of the. year. My guess is that it is likely to go to Samuel Brittan (for writing), to Sir Keith Joseph (for speaking and writing), or to the managing director of the British Channel Ship Repairers for the fight against Mr Benn.