Perhaps the only lesson to be learned from four years of campaigning for Nuclear Disarmament is that there is no simple way in which a political campaign can calculate its effect upon people and Governments. It eludes all the fixed categories of "politics". From the Central Hall meeting to Aldermaston, from Aldermaston to Swaffham, from Swaffham to Scarborough, from Scarborough to the Ministry of Defence and Glasgow... On each occasion, the deep effects of a public campaign on a moral and political issue have outrun the predictions. At times, the Unions appeared to be running behind popular feeling: the Labour Party has double-talked its way around the issue: the Government has been sluggish and drugged—summoning back with one hand the Bomber Command it had, with the other, so recently consigned to the scrap-heap: the Disarmament Talks have rallied and failed. How, we felt, could this massive apparatus of arms and rearmers, of Cold War politicians and technical hoo-haa be broken through? Yet, on each occasion, a larger and larger proportion of people have roused themselves from an apparent apathy, to demonstrate and argue, learn, confront, persuade and cajole. The long swing to political involvement has outlasted the minor set-backs and the moments of lassitude.
What is more, each occasion has reflected the coming together of many different strands, an amalgam of different political emphases and attitudes, and a variety of methods embodying different hopes. This may have made for confusion—but but it has also made for strength. CND policy has throughout been shaped by the upward pressure of argument and feeling from below. It is this which extended the protest against the weapons to a critical re-examination of the NATO alliance—and which has, more recently, moved the Campaign towards a foreign policy based on positive neutralism. At the same time, the Campaign has recovered several lost strands in the methods of political agitation, thereby giving back to radical politics in Britain as much as it demanded. This strength in variety was threatened only when one or other of the wings of the Campaign sought to impose its own image upon the whole movement. It looked for a moment as if this might well have happened. It is therefore with genuine feeling— and considerably renewed confidence in the good sense of Campaigners—that we welcome the working agreement hammered out at the Annual Conference. It is an obligation on all of us to make it work. (Other aspects of the struggle for nuclear disarmament figure in this issue: some of the strategic and political aspects are discussed in the following article, Disarmament Through Strength. The theme of direct action is explored with Alan Lovell, a member of the Committee of 100, p. 16.)
The image of the Tory Party has suffered change and decay in the last two months. Where are the wild, exuberant days of the 1959 Election, when every television screen trembled at the sound of falling class barricades? Where is the selfconfidence of that period of peripatetic visitations, when the roving PM was to be seen in all the European capitals, spreading sweetness and light? Where—to be indecent enough to look back to the early Fifties—are Mr. Butler’s boys, the Light Brigade of the Welfare State, who promised that we would see, under Tory guidance, an explosion of public works not dreamed of in Earl Attlee’s philosophy?
It is all a very bad joke. Not only is the PM, in the evening of his political days, more obsessed with retaining the reins of power and dispensing patronage than with government: he is actually riding, with the same slick grin, the same impervious unflappability, a Party which has become a beast with many heads. In the heat of the defence controversy, we have tended to overlook some underlying trends in the country, and their fearsome reflections in the Tory Party and Mr Macmillan’s policies.
In the grim days of ULR 1, it was suggested that Mr. Butler had performed a magnificent job for the Party, but that his days—and the days of those to be counted with him among the “new conservatives”—were numbered. He had stood in to maintain the “welfare” image of the Conservative Party, while trends within the private sector gathered momentum: when they became strong enough, he would gradually be thrust aside. Something like that, we felt, had already happened: the conflict of old and new which accompanied the departure of Sir Anthony Eden seemed to confirm this.
We had reckoned without Mr. Macmillan. The era of big business has indeed come again; but who would have guessed that it would have been accompanied with that vulgarity—that vulgarisation of politics—which has distinguished Mr. Macmillan’s tenure? The slick tricks, the gimmicks, the furry hats and trips abroad, the paternal embrace enfolding floggers and floaters to the same ample bosom, the ad-man’s turn of phrase—these have been only some of the outward and visible signs of “popular” Toryism. At times Mr. Macmillan has seemed not to care: “the people” would catch up with him. At other times, with the superb timing of a first-nighter, he has just managed to get to the post before history—as when, in his memorable speech, he opened the door to the winds of change in Africa some ten years after thay had begun to blow through the continent with the force of a tornado. That touch of flattering self-indulgence enshrined in the never-having-it-so-good phrase; that “freedom” which has meant, most of all, a loosehanded license for the very same economic trends which, in the early Fifties, Mr. Butler rode with such dignified and ambiguous restraint.
Freedom? When the New Left has used the phrase “the increasing concentration of power” to describe the new shape of the economy, many