37 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram 85 LONDON, 1 February 1940, 8 p.m.


My letter of 2nd January. [1] To convince French of impracticability of their policy of destroy, disarm and divide will require prolonged discussions thus precluding for months the possibility of any joint declaration of Anglo-French peace aims if political questions included.

In my view such a delay would be most unfortunate as the possibility of general mass of people in the United Kingdom and France not to mention the Dominions becoming discontented and critical and losing their enthusiasm is a real danger. The Allied cause is also being adversely affected in neutral countries and the operation of the blockade and contraband control rendered more difficult owing to lack of a definite statement by the Allies of their peace aims visualizing the sort of world we desire to establish once victory is achieved, and the paramount necessity for security provided for. Absence of such a statement is also playing into the hands of the Germans and Russians who in their propaganda constantly suggest ruling classes in England and France are fighting for the maintenance of the status quo of privilege and for a plutocratic capitalism and imperialism.

This propaganda is undoubtedly having some effect here and in neutral countries, and is strengthening the will to resist of the German people.

United Kingdom shows no signs of initiating consultations and if action to be taken pressure must come from Dominions.

I therefore suggest you should urge immediately Empire consultation with a view to early discussions with French making clear that you realize discussions on European political questions will be prolonged and that public announcement impracticable at an early date but urging that agreement as to peace aims in broad outline but sufficiently specific to appeal not only to our own and neutral peoples but to moderate opinion in Germany in respect to economic and social questions should be possible fairly quickly and stressing the importance of an early pronouncement. Statement to have desired effect would have to be framed so as to appeal not only to nations but also to individuals within the nations.

This I believe could be done by showing our determination to create after the war in regard to the nations a world of greater economic and financial equipment [sic] [2] and opportunity for all countries and in regard to individuals a greater measure of economic and social justice. In other words 'a statement regarding the kind of world in which we hope to live when the war, has ended in victory' (your telegram of 29th October). [3]

In statement we could not go beyond (a) stating our objectives (b) indicating problems that would have to be faced in order to achieve them and (c) outlining practical steps that we propose immediately to take towards their solution.

With regard to (a) it should be possible to state these in a convincing and appealing form.

With regard to (b) a great deal of consideration has been given in the last two years to the problems such as, in the case of nations, equality of economic opportunities, colonies, raw materials, population questions and commerce, agriculture, financial policies including methods of obviating recurring periods of boom and depression, and, in the case of individuals, standards of living, health, labour and social questions.

With regard to (c) the best method would probably be to refer questions to new economic and social organization of League of Nations or creation of some ad hoc body. Every effort should be made to ensure the neutrals, especially the United States, co- operate, and this might prove easier if the former utilized.

Problems arising out of reconstruction in the post-war period including demobilization of armament industries should also be referred.

Am sending you a note by next air mail on economic and social aspects [4] supplementary to my letter of 2nd January.


1 Document 16.

2 Bruce's file copy read 'equity' (See AA: M100, February 1940).

3 Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. II, Document 311.

4 Enclosure to Document 62.

[AA: A1608, A41/1/1, vii]