Page 4, 3rd March 1950

3rd March 1950
Page 4
Page 4, 3rd March 1950 — IN A FEW WORDS

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Sporting Contest THE election results had for me all the excitements of boat-race and cricket, prolonged indefinitely. I bad no intention of listening to the announcements during the night, but, possessing one of those little wirelesses by one's bed, I found myself in exactly the same position as the spectator at Lords who wants to leave at five and stays till seven " just to see one more over." Getting one more result kept me listening till 1.30 a.m. when sleep overcame me. Friday was pure boat-race all day with the clearest vision of the Labour and Tory boats racing down the river, the Tory slowly gaining, running bow to bow. and Labour at the finish drawing a quarter-length ahead, just as with Oxford and Cambridge last year. Probably I was less of a real partisan than most listeners, hut it is extraordinary what excitement one can work up for any close contest.

Getting Muddled I SAY I was not a very keen • partisan, because I got myself so muddled up about the issues. I felt certain that this was one of those elections when an intelligent Conservative should wish Labour to have a small majority in order to have to reap all the unpopularity that's coming to the party in power during the next two years, and an intelligent Labour supporter should wish the same for the Tories. This complexity added to the basic one of not being certain which Party one dislikes most made things very difficult indeed Election Items 1. WAS told of one rather amusing • occurrence in a certain con stituency. The Communist candidate buttonholed the Tory candidate and whispered to him : " I believe I've got just enough votes to get you in." And so it worked out !

The post-election observation of the Communist candidate for the very Catholic Scotland division of Liverpool deserves further record : " As yet the working people of this division put their religion before their living." Gallacher in Fife said : " I knew I was defeated before polling day. The Catholics concentrated against me."

The triumph of this election was the defeat of Mr. Pritt: the tragedy the defeat of W. I. Brown who writes more sense in a single political article than any Cabinet has been able to think out for years. In my view, the fact that W. J. Brown finds himself at the bottom of the

poll completely outweighs all the compliments which we pay ourselves and which the world pays us for the way in which we conduct politics.

Where Were Our Elections?

N the day before the General

Election I met Padre Lucio Migliaccio, the chaplain of the vastly important Italian movement called Comitato Civico (Civic Committee). Padre Migliaccio had come all the way from Rome to study our elections and electoral technique on the spot. lie was worried, he told me, because he could not find the General Election! On any day of the year in Italy there is more noisy political activity than can be discovered in the heart of London on the eve of our five-yearly Elections.

Really Lay

p ADRE Migliaccio's loss, however, proved to be my gain. I couldn't really tell him much more about our invisible elections, but he told me lots about the Com/tato Civico, which, 1 was happy enough to discover, seemed to run along the very lines which I have long advocated for this country.

The Comitato Civico, which is the work of that outstanding layman, Signor Gedda, organises all Catholic Italy on the civic plane. It is entirely lay and civic; and the bishops and priests have nothing to do with it. Padre Migliaccio assured me that they would not dream of running it, and he himself, as chaplain, is the only priest connected with the movement.

Electoral System e0M1TATO Civico covers all Italy, with the National Executive in Rome. Diocesan regional committees, and the groundwork of the movement in towns and local areas (not parishes. Its constituent members are all the Catholic organisations, Catholic Action, Sodalities, Third Orders, Centro Sportive (i.e., sports organisations). Scouts, and so on. Throughout, office goes by election, the National Committee itself being elected by the constituent bodies.

How It Could Work in England I Italy, this tremendous Catholic

I civic organisation is largely engaged in rallying the country against the Communists by props sande, information, local work, advocating and pursuing social reforms that are necessary, and the like.

In this country the immediate practical task of such a movement (which by the way would give great encouragement to other Christians and would often cooperate with them) would be rather different. It would work for a genuine Christian social order in the country by fighting the people's battles, e.g., on housing, the rights of the family, proper wages and vocational conditions of work, genuine spiritual and moral ideals in education. and dozens of other practical advances which have, time and again, been advocated by the Pope and our own Bishops, hut about which we, as Catholic citizens, do practically nothing, because we have no organisation, no civic leadership, and little or no sense of practical initiative and responsibility as Catholic citizens of the country.

Reading Newspapers A READER, commenting on my " paragraph about the gentleman with all his Sunday papers in church. reminds me that many people have for one reason or another to read a lot of papers of which they disapprove. I should know! Meanwhile there is nothing funnier than to sit in a full first-class carriage from the rich outer suburbs and take out the Daily Worker. The look of surprise and horror registered cu ) the passengers' faces at finding themselves in such company has to be seen to be believed. I am sorry to have to add that THE Cs-moue HERALD seems to provoke a kind of superior pity on the same faces.

P.S. to Last Week IAM asked to correct a serious inaccuracy in my account last week of the future Pope Paphnutius I. 'the conversation recorded was on a Sunday. But by next Friday the future Pope had transferred his interest from Diane to Susan. The only good point about this levity at the age of six is that it will probably lead to Pope Paphnutius in the end respecting the Church's tradition about celibacy of the clergy. Another pointer in the same direction, possibly. is his occasional sad remark : " I feel quite sad when I think I have lost my Archbishop."

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