5 JULY 1975, Page 7

A Spectator's Notebook

I attended last week a lunch given by the Anglo-Israeli Friendship League to meet General Chaim Herzog and his sister-in-law, Pnina. The occasion was the publication of two books, the General's account of the War of Atonement, and Mrs Herzog's edition of her late husband's writings. General Herzog is, of course, Israel's Ambassador designate to the United Nations, and a most forthright diplomat he will clearly prove to be. Asked at the very beginning of our question period what hopes he had of his rhission he said he was going to New York without illusions and went on to castigate the double-standards of the UN — in particular in that organisation's treatment of Israel — in terms that would have done credit to Mr William Buckley's scathing account of his time as an American delegate there (reviewed in these pages recently by Alan Clark). But perhaps the most impressive thing about the General was his robust confidence, and his particularly sharp insight into the declining potential of the Arab oil weapon, now that those who might have been victims of it, or were the last time the boycott was tried, have been searching with some success for other sources of energy. "The Arabs will find next time," said Herzog, "that there is a buyer's rather than a seller's market in oil." On the major subject, that of whether the Israelis could again be caught napping as at the outset of Yom Kippur, General Herzog was grimly confident that that could not happen again.

Programme journals

During this period of national stringency the authorities are making appeals for economies, Particularly in fuels and power and other resources. The room for economy appears limitless.

The television programme magazines, for instance, are publications with huge circulations that might cover the same ground to better and more economic advantage through amalgamation; of course, it might be argued that this would amount to a monopoly, and restrict freedom of choice, if not to readers who are forced to buy both Radio Times and TV Times, at least to advertisers. If this is accepted, though not by me, it follows that the copyright n programming that is the legal backbone to

the commercial success of these enterprises is sacrosanct. Thus, not only should the week's programmes be the copyright of the companies but so also the programming for a single day's viewing which, at the moment, is allowed by convention to appear in the daily papers.

It has occurred to me that if either the independent companies or the BBC were to exercise their muscle and release these daily programmes only to that daily paper making the highest open bid for the right to print, they would not only be increasing their own revenue by some millions of pounds but also effectively making that paper — the only one with radio and television programmes — overwhelmingly the most successful, smce for many readers the TV programme details are an important reason for buying a paper. It goes without saying, I suppose, that those people who would resist the amalgamation of the two programme journals on the grounds of the restriction of freedom of choice etc would be the first to cry for restrictive legislation on the right of the television channels to do what they like with their copyright — though that carried to its logical conclusion, might be for the best in leading to the demise of Radio Times and TV Times and produce instead a proliferation of privately-owned programme papers.

Conference success

The University College at Buckingham — popularly known as the Independent University, because it is wholly independent of state finance — held its first full-scale conference in London last week. Most of the contributions to the conference were by economists, for the Economics department at Buckingham — headed by the engaging and entertaining American expert on Cambodia, Professor Meyer Burstein — is the most developed of the IU's departments so far. However, it could be said that the conference offered some prospect for reconcilation between the competing wings of the Conservative Party. Sir Keith Joseph on the opening night made a much applauded speech on the decline of standards in higher education; while Mr Peter Walker contributed to the symposium on petro-economics with a verve that was much 'admired, and with expertise which won the respect of even such abstrusely well-informed experts in the oil field as Dr Michael Kennedy of the University of Texas at Austin.

Sporting note

As always, the Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon have illuminated the fundamental attitudes of British spectators to international sporting events. There Are two categories of contestants, it seems, that have a claim upon our cheers and our support — first, the British players, and second, the underdogs. (And when these are one and the same, as they so often are, ah, there lies the real bliss of victory and the almost unbearable agony of defeat.) For the more incorrigible chauvinists, the defeats of Mr Stilwell on Saturday and Miss Wade on Monday will have deprived the singles championships of most of their interest, but the rest of us, I suppose, will go on hoping against the form and the odds that the best players will somehow get beaten. The cheers for Mr Connors and Miss Evert, if they win, will be but whispers compared to those for their conquerors if they lose. Perhaps we just don't like experts,

Rough deal

The decision, at the last minute, to deprive Mr Gabriel Josopovici of the Somerset Maugham award because he has been discovered to be not British "by birth" smacks of the general amateurishness and confusion which surround most British literary prizes. Not only had Mr Josopovici been 'short-listed' for the same prize in a previous year — an occasion which might have prompted some enquiry into his eligibility for the award — but also, according to the Times, "Some previous winners not British by birth were allowed as exceptions by Somerrset Maugham himself." There is something wrong somewhere.

It is doubly unfortunate for Mr Josopovici himself, who had already asked for time off from Sussex University so that he could fulfill the award's stipulation of £500 worth of travel (not that that would have taken him very far). He would have made a very worthy winner — our literary editor sings the praises of his latest novel in this week's issue, so I hope he is at least eligible for the Booker Prize.

No Rhodesian role

There is no reason to cavil at the latest visit of a British Minister — on this occasion, Mr David Ennals — to Rhodesia, as long as no great hope is placed in the possibility of its coming to anything constructive. It seems increasingly clear that Lord Home and Lord Pearce played the last British card in that beleaguered country and that, from now on, developments will depend, not only on Mr Ian Smith and on the leaders of the various African parties, but on Rhodesia's neighbours, and especially on South Africa. After the drama of his openings towards black Africa, and his obscure but apparently radical promises of change in Southern Africa as a whole, Mr Vorster has fallen curiously silent. There are indications that his government is still furiously active behind the scenes in Salisbury, but not that he is achieving, or likely to achieve, any great success when faced with the guile and determination of Mr Smith. Southern Africa may yet erupt in a bloodbath; or the white nations may be able to preserve their defences for a very long time yet, especially given the apparent coming instability in the former Portuguese colonies; but Britain's role, it is fairly clear, has declined to vanishing point.