No investments says Chancellor

This week Guild Gazette provides Lord Salisbury with an opportunity to respond to his critics and answer the charges made against him at the Guild Dinner protest on January 30th.  Mike Smith provides a rebuttal of Salisbury’s claims.

No investments says Chancellor

by The Marquess of Salisbury

I welcome the opportunity you afford me of commenting on the events of Friday, January 30th, which culminated in a decision on my part not to attend the Students’ Annual Dinner and Ball. I had been asked by the Guild to come on this occasion and, as Chancellor, to propose the toast of The Guild, and I was told  that I should limit my speech to about five minutes: and I was very glad to accept this invitation, as it would give me an admirable opportunity to meet the Undergraduates. But when I arrived in Liverpool, I was told by the President of the Guild that I must expect some trouble from a section of the students, who did not agree with my views on Rhodesia.

I was, I must confess, a good deal surprised at this, for the occasion was a completely non-political one: and I was the more surprised when I got to my hotel and was met by a message from the dissentient students to say that there had been a meeting of 200 Undergraduates – not a very large proportion of the total membership p of the Guild – and that they had passed a resolution, which was in fact an ultimatum, that if I persisted in my intention of attending the Dinner and Ball, they would make it their business to see that neither the one nor the other took place. They added that they would like to send down a deputation to present this ultimatum. Would I receive it? I replied that I certainly would, and in due course the deputation arrived and presented the resolution. I asked if I might keep this and they were good enough to say yes.

We had a fairly long conversation, which was useful to me in clarifying their point of view, and I eventually decided not to attend the Dinner and Ball. I did this, as I explained to them, not because I was disposed to give way to any threats but because I did not want to spoil the evening for the large mass of students who would be attending the Ball.

So much for the events of January 30th. But I now come to the real reason why I am so glad to have the chance to make this statement in the Guild Gazette. After the dissentient students had left me, I looked again at the resolution they had brought and found that it had been written on the back of a kind of Roneoed handout which had apparently been distributed at the meeting and on which the resolution seemed to have been based: and I also found that this document was a farrago both of untruths and distortions of the truth.

The document contained several very definite statements.

  1. It said that I was in favour of apartheid. Answer: I am not and never have been, and I challenge anyone to produce any evidence that I have ever supported it.
  2. It is said that I have immense investments in South Africa and Rhodesia. Answer: I have no investments of any kind in South Africa. So far as Rhodesia is concerned, having been both Commonwealth and Colonial Secretary in the Government during the war, I had a natural desire to take part in the post-war development of the Commonwealth and Empire. I might have chosen Canada or Australia, which would undoubtedly have avoided the present controversies. But I chose Rhodesia because I had long experience of that country, the capital of which was named after my grandfather. I therefore, together with a number of my friends, took a share in two farms and a timber company. I am afraid that I have never up to now had  a penny out of these investments; but I do not regret this, as I believe both the farms and those who work on them are in a far better condition than when we took them over.
  3. “He has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the black people in general and was invited by the Guild to purvey his wretched slanders in this university tonight”. Answer:  The first part of this statement is untrue. I have never spoken against black people. I have always stood for multi racial government, though it is perfectly correct to say that I do not believe that Rhodesia is yet ready for majority rule, which is to me not a moral principle but a stage in the political evolution of a country, whether it be in Rhodesia, as in Britain.The suggestion in the second part of the statement which I have just quoted, that I came to Liverpool on January 30th “to purvey my wretched slanders in this University tonight” is a plain straightforward lie and it is hardly credible that those who prepared the handbill should be ignorant of this.
  4. “Think, ” it says, “of the black people who slave in the mines and factories he supports for minimal wages and no rights whatsoever.”  Answer:  The words ‘mines and factories’  sound very impressive: but what in fact do I own? Just a share in the two farms and the timber company which I have already mentioned. It is true that I was at one time a director of a very reputable company, the British South Africa Company, which has done so much fine work in developing Rhodesia for the benefit of both black and white: but I have long ceased to be even that, though I still hold a small block of shares in the company.

And now I should like to say a word in general about the criticisms that have been made of me in relation to my attitude over Rhodesia. While it is not for me to complain of anyone because he holds different views from mine on Rhodesia or any other question, there are two things that I must say in conclusion.

The first is that I do resent – and resent deeply – the suggestion that the views which I hold have been actuated throughout by self-interest; and the second is that I repudiate utterly the idea that the political views I hold on Rhodesia are relevant to my role of Chancellor of Liverpool. Goodness gracious, if politics were to come into a man’s position as Chancellor of a University, every Chancellor in the country, with the exception of members of the Royal Family, would become violently controversial.

Why are Chancellors chosen? I take it that it is either because they have local connections or because they are regarded as having a respectable reputation in some sphere of public life, or both. I imagine that that was why I, like others, was invited, and that was certainly why I was so happy to accept what I regarded – and still regard – as a signal honour.

Monday club founder

Lord Salisbury is a member of one of the foremost families in the British Conservative Party.  His grandfather was Prime Minister and he himself was one of the founders of the Monday Club, which is renowned as one of the most right wing sections of the party.

Lord Salisbury himself was born in 1893, educated at Eton and Oxford and during his parliamentary life, both in the Commons and the Lords he has been responsible for Colonial, Dominion  Affairs and so forth.  He resigned from the Cabinet in 1957 because he disagreed with the terms of the release of Archbishop Makarios from prison.
He became  Chancellor  of  Liverpool University  in  1951.

Facts are against Salisbury

by Mike Smith

In his article, printed on this page, Lord Salisbury raises several important questions about his views on racialism and about the relationship of these to his position as Chancellor of this University.

He claims that he has never supported apartheid,  nor spoken against black people.

Lord Salisbury has frequently made speeches in the House of Lords urging Britain to supply arms to South Africa. He claims that these are for defensive purposes only. Yet the South African Government have used aircraft to attack a crowd of Africans who had surrounded a Police Station to protest against political arrests. There can be no guarantee that any arms sent to South Africa will be used purely for defensive purposes. To urge that arms be sent can only serves to support the system of Apartheid.

On November 15th, 1965 Lord Salisbury said in the Lords that “Africans have just learned enough to repeat endlessly ‘one man one vote’ ”. In June 1968 he said “Is it not a fact that one of the reasons for the present bloodbath in Nigeria is that the White Government ceased to obtain and was succeeded by an entirely black government.”

The other important point he raises is that of his investments. From 1957 to 1961 Lord Salisbury was director of the British South Africa Company and he admits that he still owns a block of shares in the Company. According to Beerman’s Financial Year Book this company “made an important contribution to the development of the South African mining industry and the economic development of Rhodesia.”

The British South African Company is now part of Charter Consolidated Ltd, 38% of whose investments (by asset value) are in South Africa (1966 figures). Lord Salisbury is also a director of the Westminster Foreign Bank, which is a major financier of capital development in South Africa.

Lord Salisbury questioned the relevance of his views on South Africa to his role as Chancellor of this university. Yet he admits that Chancellors are chosen because they have a respectable reputation in some sphere of public life. Part of Lord Salisbury’s reputation is due to his views on South Africa.

If students in this university disagree with his views then they would appear to have every justification for wishing to get rid of him as Chancellor.


Author: Gerry

Retired college teacher living in Liverpool, UK.

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