338 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister
Cablegram 30[A] LONDON, 17 February 1942, 5.59 p.m.
IMMEDIATE FOR THE PRIME MINISTER PERSONAL HIMSELF ONLY
Since Cripps' return from Russia  I have been in touch with him and last night had a long conversation.  In addition to his outstanding capacity he has character and guts, and is in my view the hope of the side.
The Prime Minister invited him to enter Cabinet as Minister of Supply (this is most confidential) but he declined unless the structure of War Cabinet altered contending that as at present constituted it is a quite inefficient instrument and working with it no one could hope by his individual efforts to bring about a satisfactory higher direction of the war.
In my view this attitude and opinion are fully justified.
The present position is that he is waiting on events which however are moving rapidly, the fall of Singapore and the disastrous episode in the Channel  having occurred since his conversations with Churchill.
These happenings have so shaken public confidence here in the Prime Minister that in my view if he does not face a drastic alteration in the structure and personnel of the War Cabinet there will be considerable danger of [hiS]  defeat, not immediately but after a certain lapse of time determined by the pace of war developments.
The former is the consummation devoutly to be wished:
(a) [Because] reconstruction of War Cabinet under Churchill with Cripps included down the lines he and I discussed last night and were agreed upon would [provide] the best instrument to our hand for efficient conduct of the war. The alteration to the structure and personnel of the War Cabinet which we discussed I do not feel at liberty to give you as the conversation was a personal one in which we expressed our views very freely.
(b) Because Cripps in my opinion is the only man to succeed Churchill.
If (a) achieved Cripps by his ability and personality would establish himself as Churchill's successor as and when one was required.
If (a) not achieved but Churchill eventually had to go I do not believe that Cripps would succeed him. At the moment having just returned [from] his successful mission to Moscow which the people believe resulted in bringing Russia into the war on our side and following his admirable broadcasts Cripps' stock in the country is very high.
Owing to his relations with the Labour Party before the war he is not persona grata with it and has implacable enemies in its ranks.
He is also anathema to many sections of the Conservative Party.
Today these forces are powerless against him. Given time their combined [subterranean machinations] will undermine his position in the country.
Holding [the above views] I am doing what I can in an entirely personal capacity and with the utmost discretion to further them.
I feel however that I should let you know what I am doing. While we would properly resent any interference in our domestic politics by the United Kingdom representative I feel strongly that the pressent issue[s] far transcend any domestic issues and that I am entitled to do anything I can to assist in finding a solution of what is a question of vital importance to the Empire and in fact to the world.
I need not stress how personal the foregoing is.