191

18th April, 1929

PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL

(Due to arrive Canberra 17.5.29)

My dear P.M.,

I have been wondering lately whether it would be a good plan to prepare the ground ahead for the next Imperial Conference by trying to get some one influential group of the press here to take up the Imperial question, not as a 'stunt' but in a serious endeavour to impress on the country the primary Imperial necessities-such as Imperial solidarity in peace as in war, the urgency of greater Imperial trade reciprocity in some form or other, and the necessity for a more sympathetic appreciation in this country of the requirements of the Dominions-in short, a drive to try and bring about a greater measure of Imperial- mindedness all round.

But as one looks over the various groups that control the press here, one is faced with the difficulty as to which of them to suggest as the best to take on an effort of this sort. You have, I imagine, to rule out the Liberal press. The 'Times' and the 'Morning Post' are hardly the media for such an endeavour. This leaves Rothermere's 'Daily Mail', Beaverbrook's 'Daily Express' and Sir Gomer Berry's 'Daily Telegraph'. Beaverbrook is certainly trying to be Imperial-minded but he would not do anything to offend Canada. [1] The 'Daily Mail' might possibly seize on to the idea but would use it in their usual rather ham-fisted 'stunt' fashion. The 'Daily Telegraph' is left and, at the moment, I think that they might be the best. The proprietor is Sir Gomer Berry but his interest, I understand, is purely financial and the Hon. W. A.

W. Lawson (son of Lord Burnham) I believe is the Manager and the leading spirit.

I would be glad to know if you think it is any use trying to work along these lines. I would suggest that you, personally, should be featured quite considerably in any such scheme of Imperial publicity-even to the extent of proposing that you should be made the central figure, so that your voice at the next Imperial Conference would have the backing of whatever publicity such a scheme might produce.

As I imagine you cannot 'run' any such serious line of publicity in the press for more than a month or two, I suppose such a scheme could not be initiated until say three or four months before the next Imperial Conference. But as these things take time to arrange and to think out properly, one would have to begin to think about any such scheme in the comparatively near future.

If you think anything at all of the above I would be glad if you would let me know. You need do no more than say that you agree generally. [2]

I am, Yours sincerely, R.G. CASEY

1 Lord Beaverbrook was Canadian born.

2 In a letter to Casey of 22 May 1929 (on file AA:A1420) Bruce approved Casey's suggestion with enthusiasm, urging that a section of the popular press should attract public attention with 'something almost in the nature of a stunt' so that an audience would be created for worthwhile statements made during the next Imperial Conference. He concluded: 'I shudder at the thought of being used in the way you suggest, but I certainly agree that any movement of this character has got to centre around some individual, and if I am still going when the Imperial Conference takes place, and there is no better Prime Minister from another Dominion in the market, I recognise I would have to be used.'