33

8th October, 1925

CONFIDENTIAL

(Due to arrive Melbourne-7.11.25)

My dear P.M.,

Nothing in this letter is of any immediate importance.

This country is in a most depressed state. The big industries are just carrying and no more. Tom Jones [1], who has a very wide circle of friends who feed him with information, admits that things are in a 'bad way' and that conditions are ripening for industrial trouble. He thinks that the opposition to Amery's [2] 25 year scheme in Iraq and Mosul is due to weariness on the part of the people and reaction against taking on what may well be further financial commitments miles away in the Middle East, while things are bad at home. [3]

This is apart altogether from the note of bitter personal animosity that some of the screaming daily press are showing against Amery. They probably, however, sense the temper of the country and give their comments this personal turn to add snap and point to them.

I hear that the French Government (Painleve) [4] is likely to fall, mainly owing to the failure of Caillaux's [5] financial eloquence in Washington. However, I am told that he is likely to be succeeded by Briand [6], which would suit this country very well. It must be the very devil to be a politician in France.

Mr. Amery's present intention is to visit Australia after Parliament rises in July 1926. He would go via either Canada or South Africa, staying a few weeks there on the way and returning by the other Dominion. His visit will probably coincide with that of the Empire Parliamentary Association although he would not be tied to their itinerary. If, of course, any suggestion for an Imperial Conference in 1926 materialises, this would stop his trip.

Mr. J.H. Thomas [7] also talks of a visit to Australia during 1926, which might or might not coincide with that of the E.P.A. In speaking to me about it, he expressed the desire not to embarrass Mr. Amery by being there at the same time as himself. I think, however, that he is probably thinking that the pond is not big enough for two big frogs.

The popular subject at present is the activity of the Communists, towards which the Government is showing a masterly inactivity. It is generally recognised in inspired quarters that Mr. Baldwin [8] has no 'drive' or initiative, and the apparently supine attitude of the Government is not a little influenced by his lack of leadership.

As some one in close touch with him said to me only today, he shows a remarkable power of resistance to any suggestions for definite action, which my informant explains as constitutional and not in the least the result of considered conservative conviction.

Lord Thomson [9], in commenting on the subject to Hankey [10], expressed the firm belief that the national necessity of coping with the Communists would bring Lloyd George [11] back to power, by virtue of some sort of fusion, as he thought he was the one man capable of dealing with the internal situation. Hankey does not subscribe to this view. Thomson, as you know, is an able freelance, an ex-regular Sapper, who took a Labour peerage. He is a great talker but has got a good deal of commonsense and shrewdness. He lives by writing and lecturing.

As a matter of interest, I hope to get from Sir Hugh Trenchard [12] before long his ideas (or those of his staff) as to how he would set about the defence of Australia, based primarily on an air force, if he were given complete freedom of action, keeping, of course, economy in mind. He will, of course, have to admit, possibly reluctantly, that a few ships are necessary, as an ancillary force, but I am interested to see how far he would go in accepting, even in this hypothetical case, the major responsibility for the air.

The separate air force controversy gives point to a new story circulating about 'Boom' Trenchard, and which he tells himself Lady Culme Seymour [13] (wife of the late Admiral) was sitting next to him at dinner and didn't really know who he was, and said to him: 'And where do you work, Sir Hugh; at the War Office, I expect?' to which he says he replied: 'Madam, I refuse to say; you ask Lord Beatty [14], he knows where I work!'

It is an amusing coincidence that Trenchard's wife and Sir Roger Keyes' [15] wife should be sisters. Keyes, when he was at the Admiralty, was the spear point of the naval argument against a separate air force.

Trenchard is the Air Ministry and, while he is there, no one gives a -decision on any matter of other than minor importance. He is a very strong, but far from silent man. He has a wonderful name for getting things done. As they say about him, his manner and bearing prompt people to get jobs for him done, not today but the day before yesterday.

One of his faults is that he is a bad talker and cannot spontaneously produce his arguments in a connected coherent form in conversation, or, for that matter, on paper.

I enclose Lord Cecil's [16] memorandum on his return from Geneva.

His instructions as to his attitude at the Assembly did not, I understand, leave much loophole for him to go beyond the views of H.M.G., as he is criticised for having done in the past.

The summaries of your early election speeches (Dandenong and elsewhere), as reported in Times and Telegraph, have been very favourably reviewed in London. Tom Jones has just been in to register very considerable enthusiasm. I have heard it said that your opposite number in this country would do well to be delivered of a series of speeches on just these lines.

With best wishes, I am, Yours sincerely, R. G. CASEY

1 Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet.

2 Leopold Amery, Secretary for the Colonies and for Dominion Affairs.

3 The United Kingdom held Iraq under mandate but such was initial Iraqi hostility that the terms of the mandate were enshrined in a series of Anglo-Iraqi treaties culminating in a treaty of 1930 which proclaimed an Anglo-Iraqi alliance for twenty-five years and paved the way for Iraq's entry into the League of Nations as a more or less sovereign state in 1932. Mosul was a frontier area claimed by Turkey and the United Kingdom-Iraq. The matter was referred finally to a League Commission in 1924 and most of Mosul was awarded to Iraq but, because of the views of Mosul's Kurdish inhabitants, this was conditional on British agreement to maintain its mandatory administration of Iraq for twenty-five years;

otherwise Mosul would go to Turkey. Despite the region's oil deposits, sections of British opinion regarded the Iraq mandate as expensive and useless. With reluctance the United Kingdom and Iraq accepted the condition, watered down so that Iraq could at any time apply for League membership and, thereby, the termination of the mandate.

4 Paul Painleve's brief administration fell in the following month.

5 Joseph Caillaux, French Finance Minister.

6 Aristide Briand, Foreign Minister in Painleve's administration, succeeded to the premiership as Casey predicted but, after leading three governments in seven months, he made way in July, 1926 for Poincare who at last gave France several years of stable government.

7 Labour M.P., General Secretary of the National Union of Railwaymen and Secretary for the Colonies in the Labour Government of 1924 8 Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister.

9 Secretary for Air in the Labour Government of 1924 10 Sir Maurice Hankey, Secretary to the Cabinet.

11 David Lloyd George, Prime Minister 1916-22.

12 Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Trenchard, Chief of the Air Staff.

13 Widow of Vice Admiral Sir Michael Culme-Seymour, who died earlier in 1925.

14 First Sea Lord.

15 At the time Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Station, but formerly Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff.

16 Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster but mainly concerned with League affairs.