I N my innocence I have always regarded Liberals ever ready to make allowas being the nicest people: cffor human frailty: ever an red to forfeit a deposit pre he fight for right: never in pared to indulge in the pre al in-fighting that I assobru ciate with the Tory and Labour parties.
Innocence then took a fearful battering when I learned of an alleged Liberal plot to unseat Mr, Jeremy Thorpe as Liberal Leader. Mr. Thorpe, of course, isn't everybody's idea of the perfect Liberal commander, He has many obvious faults in this egalitarian age—Etoneducated, charm, wit and not averse to mixing with the nobs instead of spending all his time addressing Liberal summer schools and drinking cocoa with the up-andcon. ing Free-traders. i In his time, like all of us, Mel Thorpe had said a few daft things—particularly that bit about bombing in Rhodesia—but I hope he declines to play the gentleman and stays as leader. Who else is thee anyway to lead the galIant parliamentary band?
et what has really swung me fully to Mr. Thorpe's side is the timing of the Liberal plot. Poor Jeremy is on his honeymoon and even a politician should be allowed this pleasure without hearing the echçes of knives being sharpene in the Palace of Westminster and elsewhere to well:ome him on his return. And think of the effect the Liberal machinations could have on poor old Ted Heath, who is always being told by the rpundits that a bachelor as leader is not as popular with the electorate as a married man. He might risk marriage, but dare he take a honrymoon?
IT was left to a Socialist and political opponent to write the best and most perceptive obituary of Randolph Churchill. The Evening Standard piece by Michael Foot, who fought Churchill at Devonport and crossed swords with him in print and on the air, was a magnificent warts-and-all pen picture, I particularly liked the reply of Churchill to an editor who had declined to print one of his articles on the grounds that it was obscure. To this editor Randolph replied with his customary arrogance: "To the obscure all things are obscure."
CATHOLICS often corn plain that the Press, both religious and secular, fails to give adequate coverage to statements by church leaders. This charge certainly could not be levelled against the Observer last Sunday which, in my edition, certainly did Cardinal Heenan proud.
On page two, under the headline "Cardinal Calls for End to Race Hate," there was the following news item: "Roman Catholics in the Archdiocese of WeStrninster Will be asked today to try to 'stamp out racialism among your neighbours, friends and fellow-workers.'
"The appeal is made by Cardinal Heenan, Archbishop of Westminster, in a pastoral letter to be read at every Mass in the archdiocese."
In case Observer readers were a bit sluggish that morning there appeared on page three, under the headline "Cardinal's Appeal," the following news item : "Cardinal Heenan, Archbishop of Westminster, will ask Roman Catholics in his Archdiocese in a pastoral letter today to try to 'stamp out racialism among your neighbours, friends and fellow-workers'."
To be reported once on a busy news day is quite an achievement : to be reported twice in the same paper is a "double" that not even the Pope can reasonably expect in the Osservatore. If this kind of thing can happen before the Catholic Press Officer begins to operate can we expect a "triple" for the Cardinal in the Sunday Times or Sunday Telegraph when the Press Officer rolls up his sleeves in the autumn?
SUDDENLY it's happened. Writers of letters to the CATHOLIC HERALD correspondence page have started voluntarily to reduce their wordage, For the past two weeks I have noticed that their contributions, while still as controversial, have become noticeably briefer. In consequence more people now get a chance of ventilating their views and the editorial knife is now merely stained With specks of blood from judicial pruning and is no longer scarlet with wholesale cutting.
What has caused this cutback in production? Not my appeals for shorter letters because the last time that I went down on my knees for brevity I received some of the longest letters that I have ever had. The weather? Hardly, as there was no seasonal drop last year. Perhaps the television programmes have suddenly improved; perhaps the economic squeeze has spread to paper and ink; perhaps anger at some issue has reduced writers to impressive conciseness of expression.
Nobody knows but I shouldn't mind betting that Mr. X of Blankshire, five minutes after reading the above paragraphs, writes and tells me why—at inordinate length.
Norman St. John-Stevas appears this week on page four with a tribute to Robert Kennedy.