TO BE DEFEATED at the polls and to lose an editor... ship in the same week is a fate that most of us would have thought unlikely to happen to anyone outside the pages of a politfeal novel. Yet life—as Mr. Heath and Mr. Wilson know only too well—sometimes imitates fiction only too remorselessly. And Nigel Lawson also knows it. too.
The electors of Eton and Slough gave him the thumbs down on Thursday. while the proprietor of the Spectator terminated Lawson's editorship six months before his contract was due to expire.
Nigel Lawson did not like some of the changes that Mr. Creighton. the proprietor, sought and bluntly refused to implement them. It was a typical Lawson reaction and all journalists will applaud his independence.
Lawson, a man of slightly sullen, bellicose charm, is one of the most talented journalists operating in any field. He was one of the finest, shrewdest city editors that Fleet Street has seen when a mere youngster on the Sunday Telegraph: he has a fluent, pungent style of writing on any topic: he has a natural flair for editing: and what is more he has editorial courage.
In opposing the changes sought by Mr. Creighton, Lawson obviously had good reasons. I do not know what they were, but all I can say is that if the Spectator should become a rich man's Time and Tide then we shall all (apart from the political skinheads) be the poorer for it and for Lawson's departure.
At 38 Nigel Lawson's journalistic journey has really only just begun. Perhaps the Economist will see him as the successor to Alastair Burnet, who wants to surrender the editorial crown, or perhaps Lawson will eventually succeed Sir Gordon Newton as editor of the Financial Timeg Whatever happens I wish him well.
The old guard
MEANWHILE, what of the voluntary changing of the guard at the other firm? Paul Johnson has decided to give up editing the New Statesman and Richard Crossman, the &A statesman, is about. to sink into the editorial chair.
It should be quite a change-the difference between Stonyhurst and Magdalen, Oxford (Johnson) and Winchester and New College (Crossman): fire and. high life will be replaced by flint and high thoughts.
By any standards Johnson's was a successful editorship. He made the Statesman fur more readable than it was when John Freeman was at the helm, and he never lost the ability to infuriate as well as to inform.
He could drop a name with the best of them and was not afraid to parade his snobberies. There was no cloth cap and cocoa about his socialism. I did not like his gratuitous smacks at Rome and the papacy, but while deploring them one recognised his honesty of expression.
He is now going to devote his time to writing, which he does so well. The Statesman lost something when he stopped producing the London Diary. I only hope he will now have time to write a similar feature elsewhere.
George in defeat
THE saddest event of the election was undoubtedly the defeat of George Brown. I expected him to burst into tears when the result was announced, but instead he gave us a speech that was a gem of its kind—dignified, poignant and humorous. I think George gained more admirers in defeat than he ever had in the heady days of "we arc on our way, brother."
Nearer than most
THE happiest outcome of the election, when all the pundits were eating their words, was my winning wager with the managing director of the CATHOLIC HeitALD. I put my money on a Tory majority of 27. If anyone wants to know who will be the next Pope just give me a ring.