Notes by the way

Fallen Idol Department
Every crisis stimulates a brisk trade in fallen idols and models of new supermen. The cynical commentators, shedding a few crocodile tears as they hurry away the clay feet and big heads to the junk yard or the House of Lords, get on with the fascinating task of telling the public who will clean up the mess and lead them on and on and up and up to new crises. It is only a short while since the Tories were congratulating themselves on having got rid of the old war-horse, Churchill, and replacing him with the glamorous, virile, vote winning Eden. Now, if the Press reports are to be believed, they only don’t get rid of Eden because they can’t find anyone who even looks a likely candidate for supermanship. One commentator, Mr. Alistair Forbes, of the Sunday Dispatch (who was early in the demand to shelve Churchill and put in Eden) now does not know which way to turn. In his Column on December 9, he says that Eden only remains leader because, though considered “the worst Prime Minister we could now have”—except Gaitskell—the Tories can’t find a successor.

“Sir Anthony no doubt hopes that the usual Tory difficulties about finding someone who can be all things to all Tories, if not all men, will keep him in office. Certainly many Tories must feel that if only Mr. Jo Grimond was a Conservative and not a Liberal, their troubles would be over.”

And before Labourites break out into derisive laughter about these troubles of the Tories they might recall that it is only a few years ago that many of them were wishing Eden would join the Labour Party.

* * *

Is it Inflation?
The answer, according to the “experts,” is yes, or no, or maybe. The Daily Telegraph had an editorial with the title “ Not Inflation.” (8/12/56).

Next day the City Editor of the Sunday Dispatch, writing under the heading, “Inflation Prospect Brings in Buyers,” explained why Stock Exchange prices had risen smartly:—

“No doubt it was the realisation that we are at the beginning of another period of inflation which persuaded some of the big institutional buyers to come into the market”

On the same day (December 9), another City Editor (Empire News) plumped for inflation, but the City Editor of the Sunday Times was cautiously non-committal. Under the heading “Inflation or Deflation” he posed the question “Are we in for a period of renewed inflation or deflation?” He quoted the opinion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that “inflation was still the greatest danger,” but asked “ Is he right?”

His one really definite commitment was that the recent rumours of a further devaluation of the pound were “nonsense.” We shall see; remembering that while no Government absolutely has to devalue its currency—it is merely a choice of methods for dealing with a problem —the temptation to do so may prove irresistible as it did for the Labour Government in 1949. Faced with trade union pressure for higher wages on the one side and increased foreign trade competition on the other, the present Government, like Attlee’s in 1949, may decide for devaluation. It would solve nothing permanently, but it would give a fillip to exports and at the same time cause the cost of living to rise gradually and let wages rise with it.

In the meantime the Government goes on increasing the currency with another £50 million issue early in December. The Financial Times (7/12/56) expected that a further £50 million would be authorised before Xmas, which would constitute a highest ever, at £2,000 million, some four times the pre-war level.

* * *

Nehru’s Cyprus and Hungary
Nehru won’t discuss independence with the Naga tribesmen of Assam for the same reason that the British Government won’t discuss with Makarios the independence of Cyprus—they are two areas of great strategic importance and in both areas the resistance has proved more obstinate than was expected. From Delhi the Times reports:—

“Mr. B. N. Datar, of the Home Ministry, replying to questions in Parliament, claimed that the movement for full independence in the Naga Hills district was ‘fizzing out,’ but he said that road convoys and outposts were still being sniped at, patrols ambushed, headmen and other loyal villagers kidnapped, and food and money extorted.. . . Some 686 malcontents had been killed since the beginning of operations and a further 146 were presumed killed.”—(Times, December 8, 1956.)

Nehru’s admirers have been embarrassed by his reluctance to condemn the Russian invasion of Hungary and his refusal to support a United Nation’s proposal for internationally supervised elections in that country. He has good reason for this attitude since the Russian excuse that they were asked to intervene by the Hungarian puppet government, is identical with the way Indian troops occupied large areas of Kashmir as a preliminary to the declaration that Kashmir is now part of India. As the Economist reports “to agitate in favour of Pakistan is to be guilty of sedition. A number of the leaders’ of the opposition Plebiscite Front are under arrest. Above all, Sheikh Abdulla himself remains! in jail, where he has been for three years without trial.” (Economist, November 24,1956).

Now the Pakistani Foreign Minister accuses Nehru of wanting “to establish a brown imperialism.” (Daily Telegraph, December 8, 1956). Of course Pakistan wants Kashmir itself and thinks a Plebiscite would lead to that result. Nehru, having pledged himself to a Plebiscite, now repudiates it

Nehru has denied the charge that his preaching of principles that he won’t practice can be described as a “Holier than Thou ” attitude. One wonders why.

* * *

And what about Tito?
Some of the muddle-heads who, tired of Stalin worship, transferred their affections to that “good Democrat and Socialist Tito.” Now a Belgrade lawyer has been sentenced to three years’ hard labour “on a charge of spreading hostile propaganda by criticising the Yugoslav regime. The prosecutor in the district court . . . said that Djordjevic had declared, while in a barber’s shop in February, 1955, that there was no freedom in Yugoslavia now, but there had been before the war.” (Manchester Guardian, December 8, 1956).

That’ll teach him that there is freedom under Tito!

* * *

The Black Inquisition and the Red
Cardinal Mindszenfy, Catholic Cardinal in Hungary, who was kept in jail for seven years, described to the Daily Mail (December 8) how he was tortured to make him confess to his “Communist” jailers.

“For 29 full days it lasted—29 days and nights without sleep. The naked bulb in his cell was kept burning. When he collapsed from exhaustion he was promptly revived so that he would be deprived of even the rest of lost consciousness.”

A few days earlier two Americans, who had been in Spain checking up on the brutality of the Government of that Catholic gentleman Franco, reported in the People (2/12/56)), about a worker they called Eugenio.

“When he was taken to the Direccion General de Seguridad—Spain’s equivalent to Gestapo H.Q.—no specific charge was laid against him. Eugenio described this underground hell. Many of the cells measure only three feet by three feet. It is impossible to lie down. Eugenio spent weeks in one of them curled up like a dog.”

* * *

Are you Hungarian and under 18 ?
Last August when the Hungarian Government was making its first experiments with letting M.P.’s voice public criticisms of the way things were run, a woman deputy drew attention to the practice in textile factories of making young people under 18 work at night. The responsible Minister did not deny the charge that the law was being broken but said that workers under 18 could only be gradually exempted from night work. He made the point that a number of workers, including expectant mothers, had already been exempted and it would appear that he was defending the employment of some young workers at night on the ground of the difficulty of replacing them if the law were enforced fully and at once.

If there happen to be any Hungarian refugees under age 18 who find employment on British railways they may find that in one respect things are just the same as at home.

The following is from the Manchester Guardian (December 8, 1956):

“The British Transport Commission was fined a total of £92 on 23 summonses, and ordered to pay 10 guineas costs at Bristol yesterday for employing fifteen junior railway firemen, aged under 18, on night work. It was convicted of five similar offences in March, when it was fined £10.
“Mr. P. C. Wreay, prosecuting, said that the evidence showed “a deliberate and continuous flouting” of the law. It was admitted that there were considerable staffing difficulties.
“Mr. M. Corkery, for the Commission, said that it was deeply concerned about the matter. .In spite of difficulties, it was doing everything possible to avoid using young men on night work.”


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