1st November, 1928


(Due to arrive Canberra 30.11.28)

My dear P.M.,

There was a by-election at Ashton-under-Lyne this week, which gave the Government a nasty turn. A moderate Labour man decisively won the seat from the Conservatives. He did so on the Government's unemployment record and on the bad state of the cotton business.

Unemployment is still worrying the Government. They don't seem to be able to find any solution other than palliatives. They are going to spend an additional 8-10 millions on roads on a definite programme.

The banner of Scottish nationalism has been raised and half-a- dozen Scotch seats are to be fought by 'Scotch Nationalists'. A picturesque figure of a man-Cunninghame Graham [1]-is the centre round which the 'Nationalists' are rallying-their main plank being pro-Scotch and anti-Irish, as the south of Scotland they say is being swamped by low-class fast-breeding Irish.

The next session is evidently going to be a troublesome three months-the de-rating scheme will be pushed on and it is bringing a host of minor troubles in its train, which are said to produce drastic disabilities in the country-in Scotland particularly.

I have heard no election news worth telling you, other than that Labour are considered generally to be making big strides. The Liberal revival seems to be non-existent. The best opinion I can get is that the Conservatives will come back with a majority greatly eaten into by Labour.

I hear that Ashley [2] (Minister of Transport) and Cunliffe-Lister [3] (Board of Trade) may go to the Lords. Douglas Hogg [4], Winston Churchill [5] and Neville Chamberlain [6] are said to be the pillars of the Cabinet at present. Neville Chamberlain and Winston don't see eye to eye-but they are such entirely different personalities that this is not surprising.

I see by a letter from Nichols [7] (F.O. Liaison Officer at Wellington, N.Z.) that he gets the impression that the 'feeling' between Australia and New Zealand has died down considerably since the war-and that it now amounts to little more than healthy rivalry.

I find from sundry conversations that the feeling is now widespread in the Foreign Office that they must in time (and they hope before long) absorb the Dominions Office as a means of doing business direct with the Dominions.

I went to a private demonstration of Television last week. It is in its early stages and without much value yet, but the start has been made. It is a large cabinet from which comes loud-speaker transmission of the voice, together with a representation about six inches square of the head and shoulders of the person broadcasting. You see the latter by looking into a glass window in the cabinet. The obvious development from the limited scope of seeing the head and shoulders of the broadcaster is in the direction of broadcasting cinematograph scenes either of plays or public events. By comparison with the rate of progress that one has come to expect in mechanical and electrical devices, this would seem to be only a matter of time.

In contradistinction to the experience of the old-time inventor and introducer of a mechanical novelty, Baird [8] has made a lot of money by his invention appealing to the imagination of the public. The wave of speculative frenzy has done the rest and the shares in his 'parent' company and in the several other 'domestic' and 'foreign' companies that he has been advised to promote and float have been boosted sky high. These and the hundreds of other similar shows that have been speculative gambits in this last six months are known as 'tip and run' shares-you get in and get out quickly. You hope for a quick 'turn' and you hope you won't be one of the unfortunates left high and dry when the tide turns, as very few of them have dividend earning capabilities on any scale approaching the inflated value that the fly-by-night market has given them.

A minor point which I hesitate to bother you with. If you want to keep the expense down of representation at Conferences abroad, I would suggest that you add to the direction you have already given (dated 26th April, 1928) on this subject something with regard to motorcar hire.

At the 1927 League Assembly car hires amounted to about 35. At this last 1928 Assembly the figure was 60. I may say privately that it reached this figure through excessive car hiring for the conveyance of the female relatives of certain delegates on what can only be described as joy rides.

In order to bring car-hiring within the bounds of moderation and decency, I suggest that you direct that official expenditure in relation to any one car hire should be limited to 25 Swiss francs (or say 1), and that delegates personally be required to meet the cost of car hiring in respect of any sight-seeing tour or tours of a personal and unofficial nature.

Twenty-five francs allows a sufficient margin for any ordinary double journey to and from the most extreme point of Geneva or elsewhere that delegates in their official capacity should be required to visit.

I am, Yours sincerely, R.G. CASEY

1 R.B. Cunninghame Graham, M.P. for North Lanarkshire 1886-92.

Descended from Spanish kings, Graham had pioneered in Texas, driven wild horses through the Andes and travelled in Morocco disguised as a sheikh. He was well-known as a journalist, crusading for parliamentary reform, female suffrage, politicised unions, the Labour Party and an eight-hour working day. His friends included Hardy, Masefield, Yeats and Conrad. However, no Scottish Nationalists were successful in the 1929 General Election.

2 Wilfrid Ashley, subsequently (1932) Lord Mount Temple.

3 Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister, subsequently (1935) Lord Swinton.

4 Lord Hailsham, Lord Chancellor.

5 Chancellor of the Exchequer.

6 Minister of Health.

7 P.B.B. Nichols, seconded from the Foreign Office for liaison work in New Zealand 1928-30.

8 John Logie Baird, Scottish-born inventor of television.