The Party has agreed the OAP taxes will be rethought, but it doesn’t stop there; doctors’ fees, hospital fees, medicines etc are all to be user-pays in a big way. And university students are having to pay big fees. … The two bods who have stirred up most ire are X and the social services woman, who the [politician] rudely described as an ‘overweight farmer’s wife with no qualifications’. X he mildly describes as ‘a funny little woman’!!! and this is his own Party!
The news is terrible – every page there are bits that quite shock me – so many stories must give people ideas of something they could try. We’re all going to the devil – I must pray harder.
He set up a replacement of an official commission which was shut down by the Government, because they didn’t like the things he said about the future! He is interesting to talk to – especially if the subject is how bureaucracies and big businessmen don’t like being faced now with problems that won’t arise for fifteen years, but for which the solutions need starting now.
[Rhodesia – 1974] Lots of discussions as you can imagine and I found it very difficult to understand how one can sort this all out. Everyone answers that the present manner of governing in England looks so ghastly from here that why should they dictate how Rhodesia should be governed? Bit difficult to justify our strikes, inflation, shares dropping, £ dropping etc. etc. They are very isolated here and imagine the world situation differently to what one sees in London. Had some interesting discussions (very light-hearted) in Bulawayo as everyone fascinated by present English politics and also agog with Smith’s latest move. I wonder what can happen everywhere. The African people here seem better looked after than what I saw in Kenya but it is so difficult to understand all the ramifications. … I’ve been shown over the African townships in Salisbury – very interesting. I can’t really sort out the political situation and am just taking it all as it comes. Very difficult to see what else they can do – or what they could have done – great grief that these last negotiations didn’t come to anything but it seems terribly important to sort something out fairly soon. X’s family are right up in the terrorist area and they are moving further south because of 2 small children – but it’s only about 60 miles from Salisbury. Not as bad yet as N. Ireland perhaps.
Yes, I think it might be interesting to be on the flats committee for a time; as always, being on the inside is!
Saw opening of Parliament yesterday. Such smart African Trumpeters with red fez and dark blue uniforms. Only small mounted police escort for the premier as everyone away on Border Duty. Every day someone seems to be killed – mostly Africans by Africans and some rather horrid intimidating rituals going on. We could see the people in Zambia from both Kariba Dam and Victoria Falls. Looked very inactive just there but 38 African soldiers were killed while sunbathing on a small island only 3 miles upstream. I can’t see what can happen but something must. Ian Smith looked terribly white and exhausted when he left the parliament building. Whether he’s right or wrong it must be a terrific strain.
I also found the Hansard in which a question was asked about an attack on him in Ireland, which nearly killed him, not too surprising as there was another report about the military open firing on a rioting demonstration on the same day, in which 3 were killed, I suspect it must have been the same place. It may also be the basis of the odd remarks I’ve heard about him killing someone.
I got so fed up with the situation last night that I spent the half an hour before midnight dictating a sixty or seventy word telegram to the deputy prime minister. Heaven knows what it will cost – and unfortunately the telegram department isn’t open at night so they won’t have woken him up to receive it, which would have made it even more worthwhile! To that I have just added a foolscap page of letter which I must get X’s comments on before I actually post it, but it relieved my mind to get some thoughts straight in it. Of course she and I don’t agree about Apartheid entirely, because she dwells on the difficulty of dismantling it, and I think that’s just another reason for getting at White South Africans to make a start and not drag their feet, which their privileged way of life is likely to make them do, until their fears outweigh their greed, by which time it will be too late. (I’m not sure it’s not too late already, unfortunately).
The train was fun: lots of good people and guitar singing and grass. We’d planned to go down to New Orleans from Toronto. New Orleans had a temperature of 75 and it was Mardi Gras week. We were really looking forward to it. However, ’twas not to be. The Americans are extremely obnoxious about letting people into the States from Canada; they’re so paranoid that they imagine everyone is trafficking in dope or a political agitator etc. And if you’re young and not very straight-looking, well, you’re in for a bit of trouble. They didn’t like the look of us, and even though we were perfectly innocent it was only a matter of minutes before we found ourselves being shipped back on the next bus to Toronto! Bastards!
Most of the work I do is concerned with either the commercial section which promotes British trade etc. or the Entry Certificate Office where the work is quite interesting and one learns the most scandalous things. I have become much less tolerant since I have been doing this and hearing of the fiddles and evasions and downright fabrications that go on (not helped by the fact that I only do work connected either with direct refusals or references to the Home Office in London and nothing to do with those which are granted). Some of the families, and the conditions to which they are trying to go (reported on by HO officials or police at home), and the perjuries they are prepared to commit to get there, are quite fantastic. Some seem to believe that they are positively insulting you if they tell the truth!
We went to see Gandhi – well over 3 hour film and I just didn’t think of the time. It really is excellent. I came away with pride in being British somewhat diminished.
Did I tell you about my correspondence with the Commissioner of Police on the subject of ‘long batons’? He was on the radio, following a medical report of two protesters who had had the bones of their eye sockets broken by being jabbed with the end of these things – an action which he several times referred to as ‘probing’. I wrote to say what an inappropriate word it was and I got a half a quarto page pointing out that it wasn’t only a medical word (which I had stressed) but used also of investigating crime, testing defences and so on. He ended up, ‘It was therefore in the broader context, untrammelled by pedantry, that I used the term in relation to baton use.’
We’ve been very worried about your naarsty riots, it all sounds most unBritish, and the talk of turning out the plastic bullets and hoses horrifies me, but what to do otherwise is something that I’m glad I’m not Maggie Thatcher to conjure up.
I often think of you with all these loose bombs floating around, but I suppose you all become quite stoical.