TO COMPARE Hugh Mac- Diarmid with George Orwell as another “political gadfly”, or indeed in any way other than differing types of literary genius, is surely deeply insulting to Orwell (Iain Forde, Letters 9 May).
MacDiarmid was attracted to fascism in the 1930s, and in 1941 he wrote that the Axis powers were “less dangerous than our own government in the long run and indistinguishable in purpose”.
Having been rejected by the Communist Party for being a Scottish Nationalist (and vice versa), he joined it in 1956 in support of the Soviet Union’s rape of Hungary, compounding that in 1968 with his praise of its repeat action in Czechoslovakia and, to my knowledge, never renounced such views.
Conversely, Orwell was generally consistent in his democratic socialist beliefs and justifiably earned his “secular saint” description.
St Andrews, Fife