The interesting case of Mr. Peter Fryer

Mr. Fryer is the Communist journalist who was sent by the Daily Worker to Budapest to report what was going on. Now Mr. Fryer has resigned from the Daily Worker (but not from the Communist Party) because he discovered that h was sent there not to report what he saw, but to cover up for the Russian Government. He sent three despatches and he subsequently told Mr. Colin Lawson, a Daily Express correspondent, whom he met in Budapest, what happened to them. (Published as an interview in Daily Express, 17th November).

The first despatch (“a straightforward account of what I had seen as soon as I arrived . . . on the night of October 20th,”) was not used at all. The second despatch was an interview between Fryer and another Communist. Mr. Coutts. who had been in Budapest for three years as Editor of World Youth. This despatch “was cut, and cut ruthlessly,” for the first edition of the Daily Worker. Members of the staff protested, and some of the cuts were restored in a later edition.

The third despatch was not published at all. It was suppressed by the Editor, J. R. Campbell, “who had that day returned from Moscow.” He not only suppressed it, but “refused to let other members of the staff read it.”

The Daily Worker never admits that it is under Communist control. It claims that it is the only paper “owned by its readers,” but Mr. Fryer discloses that while Campbell was away in Moscow his “stand in” was Mr. George Matthews, assistant secretary of the Communist Party (It was he who cut the second despatch).

Mr. Fryer, in the interview with Colin Lawson, expressed the following views:

“I take the view that the Soviet action in Hungary was a crime and a tragic blunder, both from the Soviet point of view and from the point of view of the whole international working class.”

He denies the Communist Party argument that the Hungarian workers backed the Russian action.

“If the Soviet intervention was necessary to put down counter-revolution, how is it to be explained that some of the fiercest resistance of all was in the working-class districts of Ujpest and Csepel?”

(Incidentally, as late as 17th November, the Daily Worker was still reporting broadcast appeals by the new Hungarian government to the workers to end their strike, aimed, as the Worker admits, to enforce “the reinstatement of Mr. Nagy, the former Premier, and the withdrawal of Soviet troops.”)

One last quotation from Mr. Fryer:

“I should say that the rising against what I would describe as the so-called Communist government of Hungary was supported by 99 per cent. of the people, including a great number of the ordinary honest rank and file members of the Communist Party. Nobody wanted the Russians to stay. Nobody wanted the secret police. They were sick and tired of both of them.”

(Editorial, Socialist Standard, December 1956)

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