My dear P.M.,
Parliament has recently been convulsed by its efforts to decide whether or not to revise the Prayer Book, and eventually decided not to. The question raised a storm of interest and even passion that was very surprising -to me at least. The non-party debate in the Commons evoked speeches from members of the Cabinet and private members that, I am told, were of an order of sincerity and even emotion that has not been heard for many years. I believe that the centuries-old cry of 'No Popery' eventually carried the day. One member that I know, who represents an obscure constituency on the borders of England and Wales, told me that he received 600 letters on the subject prior to the debate-which is more than the total that he has received in the last three years on all subjects. These evidences of deep-seated religious convictions, that emerge from time to time in all countries, never fail to surprise me and make me wonder if I know anything about my fellow-man at all.
I showed the above remarks to Tom Jones  for comment-which was as follows:
This is pretty near the mark. The debate made one wish that one could abolish the Party Whips for ever. It was intensely serious and sincere. The supporters of the new Book (Bridgeman  and Lord Wolmer  specially) were much weaker in debate than Jix , Hogg , Inskip  and Mitchell , who opposed it. The new Book, minus the Eucharist changes, would pass the Commons tomorrow but, of course, that would not satisfy the Anglo- Catholics.
Mr. Baldwin's trip to Canada was a great success I am told. He was very well received and was happy in his choice of subjects and expression in his speeches. Hankey  tells me that he has been more confident and has shown more grip generally since his return.
He stands well with the party and with the country and there is, I am told, no question of his not remaining at the head of the party and the Government as far ahead as can be seen.
I am told that he was understood to have travelled to Canada in the same ship as the Prince of Wales in order to try to exert his influence with him in the matter of persuading him to marry. A Swedish princess is said to be the proposed object of his synthetic affections: it was thought that, whereas he wouldn't allow himself to be persuaded in such a matter by the King and Queen, he might nevertheless let himself be influenced by the democratic head of the state. No one, of course, knows the result.
Baldwin is said to be 'growing to' the job of Prime Minister and that for this reason and the fact that the rest of the Cabinet is divided on the question of his successor, he will remain in the saddle. There is a conscious-or subconscious-rivalry always stirring on the subject. Austen  is the obvious successor, on his past record and on his merits, but he is not popular with the party or with the country. Winston  and Joynson-Hicks and Birkenhead  I oppose the P.M. and Austen and Neville Chamberlain  on many subjects. Hankey still thinks that someone rather apart from both factions (such as Bridgeman, or possibly Douglas Hogg) would be the compromise P.M. if anything happened to Baldwin.
The best opinions I can get seem to be to the effect that the Conservatives will get back at the next election, provided nothing of moment happens in the meantime. Lloyd George  told someone here in great confidence lately that his opinion was that the Conservatives would undoubtedly be returned as the largest individual party but that it was a toss-up as to whether they would have a clear majority over both the other parties.
Winston is writing another book, 'The Aftermath of the War'.  He is not well off and has to write books and magazine articles to maintain himself -rather than as an evidence of an uncontrollable creative urge. None of the people of prominence in the Cabinet are at all well off, for that matter. Baldwin's money is to a very large extent in the ordinary shares of Baldwin's Ltd. and they haven't paid a dividend for some years. Birkenhead is notoriously hard-up. Amery  has very little besides his salary. Neither of the Chamberlains has very much. Lord Salisbury  has a lot but has large commitments in his many seats. Sir Samuel Hoare (Air), Guinness (Agriculture and Fisheries) and Cunliffe-Lister  (B.
of T.) each have a good deal of money but they cannot be said to be prominent in the Cabinet.
Hankey is very pleased that his son (Robin) got into the Diplomatic Service lately and has been posted to Berlin. There were only four vacancies, of which Sir Eyre Crowe's  son and Hankey's boy got two.
In the Committee of Imperial Defence, the 'Defence of India' was the big subject of 1927. The Report is printed and has been accepted by everyone except Winston so far and he is thought to be on the point of agreeing. I will send you copy, together with a very brief summary of it, by an early mail. Just as this was the big event behind the scenes of 1927, so, in Hankey's opinion, will the 'Surrender of Belligerent Rights at Sea' be the magnum opus of 1928.
The gist of the 'Defence of India' controversy, I am told, is as follows. The people of the country north of Afghanistan have been netted into the Soviet bag and it is thought that sooner or later Soviet Russia will make use of the fact that these so-called Soviet peoples have racial affinities with the inhabitants of the northern part of Afghanistan, and that some attempt, either by gradual absorption or by a revolt, will be made to sever Northern Afghanistan from the rest and Sovietise it. The imperial General Staff here are alarmed at the prospect, which they consider would jeopardise the defence of India. The Indian General Staff do not take this view. The War Office has prevailed, I understand, and it has been decided that any further penetration of Russia into Afghanistan must be resisted. The King of Afghanistan is now on his way to England and will, of course, be made a great deal of-he is to stay a few days at Buckingham Palace.
The question of our Belligerent Rights at Sea is a momentous one and I have dealt with it elsewhere. It is a subject such that, if uninformed public opinion got loose on it, would raise all sorts of passions. It is one of those subjects on which the head has great difficulty in convincing the heart. The press here have got hold of it, but, of course, have no idea that it is the subject of governmental attention, and this is being kept completely secret.
The public think it is one of the usual silly season topics. I am in the stage of being rather appalled that such weight of argument can be marshalled on the side of suggesting that we should consider the surrender of our rights.
The Foreign Office (and Hankey too) are full of indignation over Cecil's resignation.  You can imagine what they say-letting the country down-advertising our domestic troubles-encouraging the intransigence of the Americans-fanatic-and the rest.
I dined with Julius  last night and am arranging with the F.
O. for him to be properly looked after in Washington by H.M.
Embassy. He is said on all sides to have done extremely well here, as he was likely to do as he is a firstrate man.
I met McDougall  at dinner lately. He is very fit and maintains well the exceptional position he has made for himself in London.
I have now seen Chamberlain and Lovat  and have made contact again with all the men in the Foreign Office, Dominions Office and my usual round here. They are a very easy set of people to settle in amongst again.
I shall take the liberty of giving Nichols  a letter to you.
He is a Foreign Office man who goes to New Zealand as Liaison Officer with Mr. Coates  on behalf of H.M.G.
During my talk with Sir Austen Chamberlain yesterday, I asked about Canada's prospective legations at Paris and Tokyo. He gave me to understand, in confidence, that he didn't like it and didn't see the necessity for it, but naturally he had expressed no such sentiment to the Canadians. He said that the Paris Legation was a sop to the French Canadians and that at Tokyo was based on the supposition that it was necessary to have means of discussing the emigration question with the Japanese at closer range. He said that he didn't know as yet what was afoot but he imagined that both the French and the Japanese would want to return the compliment and send diplomatic missions to Ottawa, which would no doubt complicate matters. He also confirmed the fact that there is some stirring in the minds of the South Africans regarding their representation at Lisbon, but that the formation of a Legation there was not in immediate prospect.
Sir Austen lent me a book of speeches of Lord Balfour's  ('Essays Speculative and Political') from which I have had copied an article on 'The Freedom of the Seas', being an interview given to the American Press in 1916. He said it had a bearing on the present phase of this question so I am enclosing it amongst the other papers on this subject in another letter to you by this mail.
Sir Arnold Robertson, as you may remember, was promoted from Minister to Ambassador at Buenos Aires a few months ago on the elevation of that Legation to an Embassy. It was great luck for him that he happened to be at Buenos Aires at that moment as he was a comparatively junior Minister and was elevated above the heads, I am told, of no less than sixteen of his colleagues who were senior to him. He is a brilliant but rather erratic person whom I have met several times. On arrival in Buenos Aires about two years ago he found practically no real diplomatic work to do, so he threw himself with brutal energy and enthusiasm into the task of assisting the British Commercial community and achieved a good deal. As it was put to me, he is one of the few diplomats who realise that Diplomacy is the handmaid of Commerce.
I have had an intolerable cold for the last week. Christmas is between me and the next mail to you, which shuts all doors, so that my next mail will probably be a light one.
With all good wishes for the New Year, I am, Yours sincerely, R. G. CASEY