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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 8, No. 3 March 28, 1945

Debating Club Opening Greek Policy Questioned

Debating Club Opening Greek Policy Questioned

The opening meeting of the Debating Club was well attended, particularly by the freshers and femininity of the College. "That this house approves of General Scobie's intervention in Greece" provided a subject which both left and right orators could debate with fervour. To hear that the general standard; was not as high as possible was not unusual, and although previously such criticisms have had little if any effect, the enthusiasm of the speakers, particularly from the floor, remains a characteristic of Victoria.

An innovation was introduced with the presentation of the American short "Prelude to War," which was the first of a series to be shown by the Progressive Club, What the film lacked in accuracy it certainly made up in sound effects.

The President, Mr. Campbell, opened the meeting proper with a hearty, if toothless, welcome to the audience which, he noted with approval, contained more than the usual proportion of ladies.

Mr. O'Brien, quietly and cynically, spoke for the affirmative with an appeal to forget. Fascism and Byron in this consideration of the "happy family of Hellenes." He gave a short sketch of the events leading up to General Scobie's intervention and insisted that it was militarily necessary in order to preserve the peace of the district under his control. His second argument was the instability and immaturity of the Greek people in politics (Mr. Winchester: Socrates, for instance) which he demonstrated by a complicated history of riots, murders, foreigners and revolutions. This proved the Greeks did not, know what they wanted.

A United People

Mr. Winchester denied the relevancy of his opponent's arguments to the present-day situation. He pointed out that the EAM who liberated Greece were not rebels, but a cross-section of the whole country, whose respectability and intelligence were proved by the adherence of four professors. Without waiting for a peaceful solution of the problem General Scobie had intervened, insisting on the disarmament of EAM but not Rightist forces. The peace which General Scobie brought to Greece was the peace of Fascism.

With oratorical and naive enthusiasm Mr. O'Connor assured the audience that Britain, having liberated and fed Greece, was morally bound to save her helpless people from shrewd politicians. He quoted Major Jordan to reinforce the reports of atrocities committed by the EAM. The success of General Scobie's policy was proved by the present peace in Greece,

Mr. Hartley, backed by an impressive array of quotations, refuted Mr. O'Connor's arguments. Far from feeding Greece the British Government had instituted a hunger blockade to starve the EAM out. The present government, a disgusting descendant of the unspeakable Metaxas dictatorship, had no basis for British support. He suggested that capital invested in Greece was one reason for Britain's reluctance to withdraw.

Speaking from the floor, Mr. McIntyre deplored the Opposition's putting its puny intelligence against the Three Minds of Yalta.

Mr. Ziman recited the Seven Stages of Censorship for Greek news which resulted in the misinformation of the world and Mr. Churchill, who looked in vain for EAM criminal records.

Mr. Jack, having carefully perused the pamphlet "The Truth About Greece" and the "Evening Post," plumped for the latter and General Scobie, dazzled by the concurrence of Messrs. Bevin, Citrine and Peter Fraser.

Mr. Neuberg, speaking from the centre of the platform, appealed for more sincerity in the debate.

Mr. Cohen efficiently clarified the order of events and stressed that Gen. Scobie intervened despite, the agreement reached by the Greeks themselves. He preferred the pamphlet published by the Maritime Union to the opinions of Sir Walter, "the lackey of British Imperialism."

Mr. Witten-Hannah argued that the British Government's hand must be weak if it had to vilify the EAM to prove its case.

Miss Sim, enthusiastically acclaimed as the first, lady speaker, denied the military necessity of Scobie's intervention.

Mr. Gordon was very quietly at a loss to know why the EAM, if as strong as suggested, were unsuccessful in fighting the brutal British.

Miss Patrick suggested that EAM had been anxious to compromise. EAM was not a band of "thugs and terrorists" but an organisation administering most of Greece with as good a legal title as the Hellenic Government.

Pros. and Cons.

That the British had benefitted from the intervention Mr. Palmer was convinced; therefore, it was justified.

Mr. Jackson deplored this argument and considered the intervention in Greece a blow to democracy.

Mr. Abraham, self-styled Fascist, was at one with the audience in wondering why he was on the platform.

Mr. Williams said that General Scobie, following a "Times"-honoured routine, had prevented a settlement by military action.

Mr. ? (alias Smith) was pleasant about Marshal Tito but doubted if Greek democracy existed.

Mr. Milburn gave a good review of the negative case.

When the motion was put to the house it was lost by a two to one majority.

Mr. Farquhar gave a criticism of the speakers and placed them as follows:—Miss Patrick, Mr. O'Brien, Mr. Cohen, Mr. Hartley, Mr. Williams.