Guiltily sending a cheque

Interesting piece in the Grauniad about the British communists and the Soviet intervention in Hungary. I was especially amused by the Daily Worker doing a version of the jaunt to the Green Zone by Rush Limbaugh to “get the good news from Iraq the MSM is keeping quiet”. Their reporter, Peter Fryer, was briefed that he ought to “contradict that sort of thing”, where the things were reports of tanks machine-gunning crowds of demonstrators. On arriving in Budapest he discovered that they were all true, and said so. His editor, Johnny Campbell, did the obvious thing and spiked the lot. Fryer quit, as did some 19 other journalists. Apparently the readers were forced to read the Daily Telegraph to get their information. Why not the Guardian? Presumably because “social democracy is social fascism.”

Interesting as the story is, though, I find a nasty taste in the way many of the people interviewed experienced the whole thing as a disagreeable but pleasantly exciting social kerfuffle, a leftie/intellectual version of so-and-so’s latest affair in suburbia.

Alison Macleod, the Daily Worker’s TV critic, described how “all around us the marriages of party members were cracking up”. Everywhere friendships were under strain. The Thompsons fell out with the Kettles.

Hey! Janos! Bad news! What, are we running out of RPGs? No, the Thompsons have fallen out with the Kettles. And what the fuck is this about?

Another friend, the philosopher Maurice Cornforth, stayed in the party, but guiltily sent the Thompsons a cheque for £50 when Imre Nagy, the reformist Hungarian Communist leader, was executed in 1958.

What, did they have a bet on?




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