IN the 1950 General Election 1 lis
tened to the night results on the radio and gave up, overcome by sleep, shortly after midnight. This time I watched on television and reluctantly went to bed shortly after two. That seems to be a measure of the difference of attention which the visual has over the audible, and it is enhanced by the fact that the unknown character of the 1950 Election made results a good deal more exciting than this time, once it had become clear that a foreseeable pattern was shaping itself. In point of fact, it was extraordinary how much one was learning about the science of elections with the help of the cornmentators.
IT was really frightening to have
driven home in that way by the brief analysis of election result after election result how voters think in a pattern. The commentators kept on warning us that the pattern might change next day, hut we somehow knew it wouldn't. One had a vision all the time of a hectic three weeks' campaign by political experts and orators of every type driving themselves to exhaustion in trying to get voters to think for themselves afresh, and everywhere an almost exactly similar stubborn response of about 98 out of a hundred determined not to change. Was this free choice? You could argue either way.
THE fantastically long television
programme, some 13 hours out of 20, with the same three commentators there physically before 'you, seemed to bring out some useful points. One is that if the subject is intrinsically interesting enough, even the longest TV sessions need not pall. On the other hand. few cornnientators could fail to itritate dur
ing that time. David Butler. I thought, came out much the best. Young, attractive, unpresuming, yet somehow giving the impression that he really knew his subject, one never tired of him. The New College don appeared and spoke more rarely. but then to take a long time to say little, and usually the obvious. Graham Hutton had the hardest job, and did it very well, but his forceful technique with strong .characteristic gestures and expressions became very tiring.
F one learnt a lot about the science
of elections during this Marathon comment, one learnt. during the " In The News" feature which followed on Friday night. a good deal about human nature, and possibly about the future course of history. W. .1. Brown. rejected again in Fulham, no doubt because he told the electors the truth, Lord Hailshant from the peace and dispassion of the Lords. John Hynd safe in a safe Labour scat. and Alan Taylor, fuming from Oxford's donnish Left, made up the team. Feelings were very strong, and the underlying tension so obviotts as to make one slightly uncomfortable, with Hynd muttering to himself with a sort of feminine know-all indignation, Hailsham passionately pleading for less passion. Brown conveying rather hysterically but with deep earnestness the real nature of the country's crisis. and Alan Taylor deeply, and. I think. really sincerely moved.
Was Taylor Right?
I SUPPOSE I feel myself politically
further removed from Taylor than any of the others in the team, yet on Friday night I admired him the most, and I felt that I under stood for the first time that at bottom he really does know his business, and the country's, better than the others. Indignantly, he asserted again and again that both parties were frauds, since each had fought the election while keeping the electors blind to the realities of the situation. As with Stalin, Hitler, and Churchill in wartime, his plea was really that a great man would lead the country with an honestly held programme of action, and be damned to the electors. That, today, was the condition of success. In this, he has all history behind him, and much as I dislike his own Bevanism and much as I dislike all violence, I have to ask myself whether we can safely disguise for much longer the underlying tension between real Right and real I.eft. An appalling thought!
600 Secret Weapons?
A NOTHER helpful echo from the h Left came this week when Kingsley Martin, discussing the gradual narrowing between Labour and Tory. wrote: "As a last straw, they (Labour) were confronted with what somebody has excellently called Labour's 600 Secret Weapons. These are the 600 Conservative candidates. The sight of the would-be Tory M.P., supported by rows of opulent cars and surrounded by the squire and his rich relations, turned the stomach of thousands of humble voters." This is exaggerated and distasteful demagogic language, but I think it represents something real. Until the division of parties slides from a " class" division to a division between different sets of moral and social values, the division will be
accidental and artificial. And few things would do more to hasten the change than a serious Tory attempt to find parliamentary candidates from all sections of the country's people.
The New England
A SCHOOLMASTER in a mixed " area with a docker community was telling me. how strange the division of political forces in his school was. The children of the working and especially the docker class were Labour to a man, but the children of the various types of middle class were solid Conservative. Yet everyone knew that the big expendable incomes, leading to TV sets in the homes, were among the dockers, while the hard-up were the middle and lower middle classes.
Mr. Stokes' Missionary Work
AN American missionary magazine states that Mr. Stokes has brought more Moslems to church in a few hours than many missionaries in a few years. Row he did it was by insisting on going to Mass during his recent visit to Teheran. Detectives had to investigate this strange demand, and in particular see that Mr. Stokes, in straying far from the beaten part, would not be assassinated. The detectives were met by Fr. Streit, but they insisted on examining the confessional. And when Mr. Stokes finally arrived for Mass he was accompanied by three jeeps full of police and a couple .of private cars. These watched their strange
British protege throughout. And now that I have given yet more publicity to the ex-Lord Privy Seal, I shall get letters asking me why I am so pro-Labour!