5 MAY 1961, Page 3

to Salisbury and returned—to everybody's sur- USDAW conference has been

generally prise, including his own—with what appeared to hailed as a victory for Mr. Gaitskell. It may turn be a multi-racial agreement in his brief-case. The out to be; but only if he stands firm, and prevents current was ready for the taking. It is true that the soft centre of the Labour Party from turning the agreement was rapidly repudiated by the to the Crossman-Padley 'middle way.' The nationalists, but the fact that it could have been USDAW majority for collective security through accepted by them even momentarily suggests that NATO was very small; the majority in favour of another resolution calling for the re-establishment of party unity on the basis of the Crossman- Padley plan was far larger. Undoubtedly the uni- lateralists, as soon as they realise they are beaten, will put their full weight behind the plan; and the risk remains that they could carry Conference with them next autumn—particularly if the anti- Government tide continues to be reflected in by- election results, restoring hopes of the party's eventual return to power so long as its 'unity' is maintained.

But the Crossman-Padley defence draft is a middle way only in the sense that falling between two stools is a middle way between sitting firmly one of the on onm. There can be no compromise in this dispute. Either the Labour Party commits itself to the Atlantic alliance, or it pledges itself to opt out. Mr. Gaitskell cannot, therefore, accept a draft which is also acceptable to the uni- lateralists. Admittedly the unilateralists will accept it not on its merits, but simply as a shift towards their own ideas, and as a tactical victory in their campaign to get rid of Mr. Gaitskell (they will, in any case, not accept it for long, their determination being to resume the campaign for full unilateralism at the earliest possible oppor- tunity). But the fact that they can even contem- plate accepting this draft as it stands is a reflec- tion of its ambiguity; and ambiguity on such an issue is something no party which hopes for power can afford.