George Walford: Editorial Notes (35)

Readers of IC who have been in touch with s.i. from its early days will already know that Harold Walsby left a quantity of papers, some concerned with ideology, some with other subjects, such as his dialectical algebra. With the approval of his widow these have now been deposited with the International Institute of Social History, [address], where they will be both secure and available for study.

Our series of reprints of Walsby’s articles will continue in the next issue; this one is devoted to more topical material, including two items which shortage of space obliged us to hold over from IC34; we apologise to the authors for this delay.

AFTER WENDY Savage now Pauline Bousquet is being accused by her male colleagues of inefficiency in the practice of obstetrics. When will these women learn? It is so obvious that only men are competent to practice obstetrics and gynecology; belonging to a different sex gives them a professional detachment women can never hope to achieve. And in treating men, also, male doctors have an advantage; belonging to the same sex endows them with a sympathy women can never hope to attain.

THATCHERISM is sometimes difficult to reconcile with traditional Toryism. Lord Salisbury, for example, defined the desirable policy as drifting downstream, occasionally putting out a boathook to avoid a collision, and the sharpness of the contrast has sometimes produced the suggestion that Mrs.Thatcher would be better seen as not a conservative at all.

The discrepancies largely disappear when we compare her circumstances with those of his lordship. He knew a Britain in which the conservative establishment remained comfortably in the ascendant in the country at large even when the liberals held office. She, on the other hand, has to deal with the results of decades of rule by labour, a movement in which even socialism exercises some degree of influence. She has to work hard, and take radical action, to get the country safely back on (what she believes to be) its proper Tory rails. When that has been accomplished (if indeed she does succeed) then we may expect a return of the older, more easy-going and paternalistic approach, with Mrs.Thatcher being ousted by her followers should she refuse to conform.

Edmund Burke, recognised as a forerunner by most thoughtful Tories, recommended ‘a wise and salutary neglect,’ but they have to get the country somewhere near what they think right before they can afford to start neglecting it.

THE GENERAL election of 1987 gave the conservatives 57 per cent of the seats for 42 percent of the votes – the lowest share of the vote obtained by a conservative government since 1922. – (Butler & Kavanagh, The British General Election of 1987, London, MacMillan).

BERNARD CRICK has recently published Socialism (Milton Keynes, Open University Press). In it he laments that many socialist intellectuals ‘cannot write one sentence that would be… intelligible to a worker.’ The remark says more than he realises about his own knowledge of those he calls the workers, but it still makes the point that socialism is distinguished more by its intellectual level than by any class connection. Conservatism is not notorious for presenting its followers with intellectual problems, and fascism still less so.

JOHN CAMPBELL speaks of ‘the sentimental fallacy of imputing special virtue to the victims of invasion or oppression.’ (TLS 1 July 88)

POSTCODE PROBLEMS? Ken Hegerty welcomes enquiries and commissions for postcoding mailing and membership lists. Phone [number]

REPLY TO “J. G.” We do not print letters without having a name and address for the writer. The address is not printed without the writer’s agreement, and the name can be omitted if reason is shown, but we have to have both.

from Ideological Commentary 35, September 1988.