10th December, 1925


(Due to arrive Melbourne-9.1.26)

My dear P.M.,

1. The outstanding events lately have been Queen Alexandra's [1] death and the Locarno Pact [2] signing.

The London Press appeared to me to run wild over Queen Alexandra's death. The sob stuff was, in my opinion, overdone and cheap. It was a press 'coup' in which all could and did participate. Grief becomes pretty tawdry when it is 'featured'.

2. The very important League Council Meeting is sitting at this moment. [3]

3. Individual members of the Cabinet (and Hankey [4]) are a good deal worried over the Mosul business. [5] It would be a fatal blow for this Government if they were dragged into even a minor war with Turkeyconsidering the fact that the Conservatives superseded the Lloyd George regime owing to the latter's attitude over Chanak more than anything else. [6] However, it looks as if war, in any event, will be avoided.

4. I lunched recently with Richard Jebb, who wrote 'Studies in Colonial Nationalism' and 'The Britannic Question', and who has a book in course of publication called 'The Empire in Eclipse'. He lives entirely in the country now and is really out of touch with what is going on. The only point of any interest to you that arose was his conviction that the 'contracting out' clause about the Dominions in the Locarno Pact neutralises the Dominions in case of war, and that prior to their taking part in a war arising out of the Pact, they would individually have to declare war. [7] I don't think this is a well-founded criticism.

5. Another instance of the infidelity of the Press was the 'Morning Post's' publication last week of the substance of the Irish Boundary Commission's Report, which they got through some 'leak'. It complicated an already very difficult situation. I send you in a separate letter the story of the Irish Settlement. I have heard it said on very good authority that the Morning Post's 'expose' cost this country many millions, meaning that the difference between the settlement that would have been effected and the only one that was possible when the M.P. let the cat out of the bag, was a good many million pounds. A lot of people are out to drink Gwynne's [8] blood-the Editor. And they cannot afford to lose any more circulation and live.

6. Tom Jones [9] tells me that the P.M. [10] is in the habit of calling in Geoffrey Dawson [11] and Lord Burnham [12] to talk to him when he has been away from London for a week or more. They tell him the story of the Realm from their point of view.

You know, I expect, that the control of the 'Times' has been made (by Major Astor [13]) the subject of a perpetual trust to operate after his death. He will have the disposition of the financial interest but not of the control of the policy of the paper. A small Committee will operate the Trust, composed of the Archbishop of Canterbury and similar functionaries who are considered not to be swayed by the baser human motives.

7. I sat near Sir Fabian Ware [14] (Imperial War Graves Commission) at a function recently. He had recently been out to Gallipoli to see the cemeteries. He remarked on the number of British and Australian monuments and the bitterness in the Turkish Press at the implied slur to Turkish arms and gallantry by reason of the grandiose wording of our memorials, and the lack of any similar memorials to mark the place and the events from the Turkish paint of view-although as they rightly say, their arms prevailed over ours. The first reply that springs to one's mind is that this is the Turks' affair and that it is up to them to raise what memorials they like. However, Ware made the suggestion that the Graves Commission should put up a series of simple stones with an inscription both in English and Turkish, indicating the general run of the line held by the Turks, and with suitable appreciative reference to the might of the Turkish arms, their worthiness and gallantry as foes, and to the fact that, try as we might, we could not dislodge them. A little eulogy of the Turk would redound to our honour, and no doubt greatly please the Turk. Ware said that the Graves Commission could spend a hundred or so pounds in this way without question.

8. If you read Lindsay's [15] impressions of the new synthetic Turkish capital at Angora (E.7370/109/144 by this mail), I hope you will find no analogy to Canberra. This print is unimportant-in fact, rather amusing.

9, It is the habit of the hour to talk limitation of armaments, but I can't help feeling that it is to a great extent window-dressing. The difficulties are too great, not only the task of getting States with divergent interests to get together and give and take, but the mere existence of an armed Russia to my mind nullifies everything. A lot of tongues are in a lot of cheeks just now, I think.

10. There was a most entertaining debate in the House of Lords yesterday on the Irish Settlement. Unfortunately I was not able to hear it, but Tom Jones has told me that Birkenhead's [16] speech was the finest thing he has heard, as a piece of oratory. I enclose the Record of it which, if you have time to look at it, will, I think, interest you. A certain Lord Danesfort [17] (who until last year was Sir J. Butcher, Bart., a lawyer) made bold to challenge my Lord Birkenhead in debate and was soundly trounced for his temerity. The record of his cruel trouncing (P. 1270) shows what Birkenhead can do when he's roused.

11. I must thank you for letting me have the two lots of ten days' leave, at Christmas and at the end of January. Hankey will cable you in my name with regard to the proposed Imperial Conference and will deal with any cables that may come from you on urgent matters. The Irish Settlement filled the Cabinet agenda paper for the ten days before Amery [18] went to Geneva. I saw him three times about it as I know you wanted a decision, but he was not able to get sufficient time to have it discussed.

With all good wishes for the New Year, I am, Yours sincerely, R. G. CASEY

1 The Queen Mother, widow of King Edward VII.

2 See note 24 to Letter 36.

3 The thirty-seventh session of the League of Nations Council in December 1925, attended by four prime ministers and eight foreign ministers and expected to be the last before the entry of Germany, settled conflict between Bulgaria and Greece, attended to the Mosul affair and established commissions to prepare for a disarmament conference and an economic conference.

4 Sir Maurice Hankey, Secretary to the Cabinet.

5 See note 3 to Letter 33 and note 18 to Letter 34.

6 In September 1922 Turkish forces had threatened neutral zones established by the Treaty of Sevres, including Chanak on the eastern shore of the Dardanelles. French and Italian forces withdrew and Lloyd George overreacted, calling the Dominions to arms and threatening Turkey. In the event, the Turks held back and achieved most of their aims at the Conference of Lausanne held during 1922-23. Lloyd George's frantic behaviour was the last straw for restive Conservatives who, in late October 1922, withdrew from the coalition, forced Lloyd George's resignation and established their own government under Andrew Bomar Law. The Conservatives were returned at elections held on 15 November.

Neither Lloyd George nor the Liberal Party was again to hold power.

7 The high contracting party to the Locarno Pact was the United Kingdom, but the impact of this on the Dominions obviously would vary: whatever the technicalities and whether the treaty party had been the Empire or not, it was likely that Australia and New Zealand would behave as though the United Kingdom represented the Empire, and that the Irish Free State, Canada and South Africa probably would not.

8 H. A. Gwynne, Editor of the Morning Post since 1911.

9 Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet.

10 Stanley Baldwin.

11 Editor of The Times.

12 President of the Empire Press Union, former Conservative M.P.

13 John Astor, Chairman of The Times Publishing Company.

14 Maj Gen Sir Fabian Ware, formerly an educationalist and Gwynne's predecessor as Editor of the Morning Post, presently Vice Chairman of the Imperial War Graves Commission.

15 Sir Ronald Lindsay, Ambassador to Turkey 1925-26.

16 Lord Birkenhead, Secretary for India.

17 Conservative M.P. for York 1892-1906 and 1910-23. He was Irish born.

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