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Mauritius Times – 60 Years Ago

By Peter Ibbotson

Smear Tactics

These are the tactics of Hitler — to label all those who oppose you of being Communists. They are the tactics used by N.M.U.; they are the tactics used by his heroes in South Africa where democracy is being crushed by strong-arm police methods. Smear tactics are not confined to right-wing intolerants like N.M.U.; they are used also by left-wing dictators such as the puppet Kadar regime in Hungary which has labelled as “fascists” all those who are resisting communist dictatorship there.

The News-Chronicle is traditionally a liberal newspaper, supporting freedom of speech and thought. It is the conscience of Fleet Street, just as Krishna Menon is the roving conscience of the world. And the News-Chronicle has this to say on the subject of smear tactics: “Men will defy evil as such. The admitted, declared, boasted policy of racialism is evil. It may have historical excuses. But it remains abhorrent to all who care for justice. The Nationalist attempt (in South Africa — P.I.) to confuse Christians and liberals with Marxists should deceive nobody.”

Though that paragraph refers to events in South Africa, the funk-hole for Franco-Mauritian capital, it is equally applicable to Mauritius. N.M.U. is a racialist; successive opinions that have appeared in his paper have made very clear his real attitude to people of races other than his own. Shorn of any decent allies, N.M.U. is forced to cry “Communist!” in the hope of getting factitious support in easily-frightened circles. But the people know that their trusted leaders — Dr Ramgoolam, Mr Forget, Dr Dupre, Mr Seeneevassen, for example — are not Communists; and they dismiss N.M.U.’s vapourings as the idle wind that passes them by. His tactics should, as the News-Chronicle says, deceive nobody.

* * *

Collusion with Israel

No one except shallow-minded Tories will be satisfied with Sir Anthony Eden’s recent statement in Parliament that he had “no fore-knowledge that Israel would attack”. The Observer, whose integrity is above suspicion and whose impartiality is unquestioned, says of this: “We believe he has given a false impression, and one known to be false by his closest Cabinet colleagues, the Service Chiefs and some Civil Servants. The truth is known officially in Paris and Canberra and accidentally in Washington. We believe that truth will inevitably come out, and we fear then that the name of Britain… will be stained by what will come to be called, in plain terms, lying.’ The paper goes on, in a later paragraph: “We believe that the country faces the following prospect: that our Prime Minister will be shown to have tried to mislead the House of Commons, and the world, on the origins of a warlike action.”

As driblets of information become available, it becomes more and more clear that the Anglo-French invasion of Egypt was a piece of folly caused by (i) Eden’s vanity, and (ii) French desire to get rid of Nasser in the hope of weakening Arab influence in North Africa and so strengthen her imperialist position in Algeria, with the result of weakening the plan for a North African Federation (free from French political and economic domination) of North Africa, a federation which would include Morocco, Tunis and Algeria. This plan, formulated by the Tunisian leader Bourguiba commands much support in North Africa as well as in the U.S.A. France of course does not like it; and the Egyptian sortie was an attempt to show the Arab world that all the pushing around that was to be done would be done by France.

* * *

Cyprus

The Roman poet Horace had a line “Parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus” (the mountains are in labour and give birth to a little mouse). The Radcliffe plan for constitutional development in Cyprus is truly a little mouse for all Lord Radcliffe’s labours. It is unacceptable to the Cypriots, for two reasons: they oppose the hint of eventual partition of the island into Greek and Turkish areas; and they oppose the police being under the control of the Westminster Government instead of the local government. As long as the police are the responsibility of the Imperial Government, they will — it is feared — be used as instruments of repression.

The Radcliffe proposals are symptomatic of the current spirit at the Colonial Office. The tender feelings of the minority must be spared: the Turkish section of the population must be pandered to; just as in Mauritius the constitutional proposals contain proportional representation as the means of appeasing the Franco-Mauritians. Democracy means the rule of the majority; but Lennox-Boyd is giving his blessing to constitutional proposals which will subject the rule of the majority to the caprices of the minority. Proportional representation in Mauritius; eventual partition in Cyprus; restricted franchises in Kenya and Central Africa — all are means to prevent political, and eventual economic, power from passing to the people. All are means to retain political, and economic, power in the hands of minorities; illiberal in East and Central Africa, reactionary in Cyprus and Mauritius.

And Lennox-Boyd’s policies lack the virtue of consistency. Proportional representation in Mauritius, where there is a plural society, to safeguard the white minority. No proportional representation in Trinidad or Malaya, where there are also plural societies. No proportional representational in Kenya to safeguard the white immigrant minority.

But I am wrong — Lennox-Boyd’s policy is consistent. It is consistently designed to frustrate the People’s will. And in that it is doomed to failure.

Friday 11th January, 1957


* Published in print edition on 30 August 2019

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