Tim Blair


New Criterion



Tuesday, July 08, 2003

It was a very fond farewell the BBC gave to its romantic traitors, Philby, Burgess, Maclean and Blunt last Sunday.

With Burgess and MacLean packed off to Moscow to retire in privileged luxury (by Soviet standards) the script takes Blunt back to Cambridge.

Here he tells the faithful old drudge who welcomes him that the others 'went on to great things', then walks away through the cloisters to the strains of Parry's setting of William Blake's magnificent Jerusalem.

Two new gripes.

How can anyone have sunk so low as to pervert the only beautiful hymn ever produced by the English for such a base political purpose? Would even a Goebbels have been so insensitive?

We see nothing of the comfort and privilege of the lives of Philby and Maclean in retirement. Of their continuing collaboration with the Soviet regime. Since the scriptwriter was so free with the facts, perhaps he could have kept them alive to see the Berlin Wall come down, and had them face the enquiries of writers more interested in the truth than he was.

I think I know why the left is in love with the idea of treachery, even more than its practice. It is the higher moral ground the hoi-polloi can never share with you, since they don't even know you're there.