6th June, 1929


(Due to arrive Canberra 5.7.29)

My dear Prime Minister,

The Election has come and gone and I do not propose to labour it.

[1] However, you may care to have a few details.

Although the intense Liberal campaign failed to secure many seats, it brought them a great many more votes than is indicated by the numbers of seats that they won. This is certain to make Lloyd George press for electoral reform-either proportional representation or something of the kind. I understand that this will be strenuously opposed by the other parties.

I enclose chart of the results-and a philosophic and cautionary leader from the 'Times' today.

Austen Chamberlain [2] got in by only forty-odd votes. This may have been due to the general swing towards Labour that occurred in Birmingham (and, indeed, in all other industrial centres), but it is thought to have been due in his case to a great extent to the rather pontifical and omniscient attitude that he has thought fit to adopt ever since Locarno, and which, I hear, has been much resented in his own constituency.

Grondona [3] contested a seat but lost rather badly.

R.A. Butler [4], who I think met you in Australia, (son of Sir Montagu Butler, Governor of the Central Provinces [5]) won his seat well, in Essex.

The best informed and least prejudiced comments that I hear are on the following lines.

Lloyd George could not have imagined that he would get more than a 'balance of power' party-but his revenge for the break-up of the Coalition in 1922 took the form of putting 500 candidates into the field, the bulk of whom had no chance of success, but who would take away votes from the Conservative candidates. I have seen analyses of the position in dozens of seats, which show that this is just what happened. He is supposed to have spent something approaching a million on the sponsoring of these 500 candidates and in election publicity-and must be grievously disappointed at the bare 58 successes.

I hear that the Labour 'side' is liable to be a troublesome one for Ramsay MacDonald [6] to handle. There is a leavening of reasonable and responsible men, but there is a great number of red raggers and irresponsibles who are not at all to MacDonald's liking. Even at this early stage, I hear that one of his main difficulties will be in keeping his party disciplined, and that this is not likely to get less as time goes on.

I have never seen Labour enthroned, so the next month will be interesting-although I suppose one will be mistrusted for a bit until the new Ministers and Under-Secretaries get used to one's face.

Tom Jones [7] finds himself in an awkward position. As you know, he is a man of the people who has educated himself, and by his character and wisdom has drawn the respect and confidence of a wide range of people. He has served successive Prime Ministers most ably and well-but by so doing has forfeited the confidence of the very people from whom he sprang-the Labour Party, and, in particular, of Ramsay MacDonald. When the Labour Party were in office in 1924 they boycotted T.J., left him where he was but gave him nothing to do. This will probably happen again and it will be a most distressing situation for him. [8] There are few people for whom I have a greater admiration than T.J.

The personnel of the new Cabinet is not yet announced, and I can hear nothing more than rumour which is not worth repeating.

To my increasing surprise Wilkins [9] is managing to get all he wants from the Discovery Committee. I have been shepherding him and doing all I could for him with them-and to my great surprise they have agreed to let the 'William Scoresby' (a whale catcher converted to scientific work which used to work with the 'Discovery') be at his disposal during the period of his activity in December and January next, for conveying his aeroplanes and personnel from Deception Island to the farthest south base that he can establish. And, over and above this, they are, I believe, about to agree to a contribution of 10,000 from their funds towards the general purposes of his efforts!

They have, of course, got very considerable funds on which to draw-something approaching 100,000 a year from whale oil taxes from the Falkland Islands. We put it up to them with the bait that Wilkins' work in the coming season was likely to add to the knowledge (and sovereignty) of the Falkland islands sector of the Antarctic mainland-this happened to be the right button to press.

On the usual principle, we asked for much more than we expected to get-and look like getting the lot!

I will not bother you with the Mawson Expedition business [10], which still occupies the greater part of my time. I like Davis [11] personally, but he is rather difficult as he gets very 'cranky' and perverse when everything doesn't go exactly as he wants it.

I would most strongly suggest to you that you get your Antarctic Committee (in conjunction with Mawson) to draw up a comprehensive programme for the Expedition's activities, setting out the duties and responsibilities of all the members, and going into such detail as who is to do other people's work when one or more is incapacitated. Organisation is not the strong point of either Mawson or Davis and I rather fear that they will tend to ride their own particular hobbies and fancies to the detriment of the main objectives. If each man knows before he starts what is the maximum and minimum expected of him, it will at least militate against muddle. This would not be possible in an expedition doing a lot of sledging or land work, but as this Expedition will be more a floating laboratory and mobile observation station, such cut and dried instructions are possible (with a certain elasticity allowed), and, I think, even imperative.

In addition to these detailed instructions (which can, of course, be issued over Mawson's name), you will no doubt give Mawson written instructions as to the broad objects of the Expedition-the strengthening of our claims to the whole area from the Ross Sea to Enderby Land (of which the Western half, from Queen Mary Land to Enderby Land, is to be secured in the first season) by frequent landings. The scientific work, whilst most admirable in itself, is really a means of bolstering up our claims to the area.

A few days before your telegram arrived about seeing Sir Eric Geddes [12], I had been on an Interdepartmental Committee here on this subject, the result of which I sent in my letter LON. 1286 of 30th May, which your advisers on this matter will require to see in order to get a complete understanding of the present state of the arrangements for the projected England-Australia air service.

The following extract from a letter from Geneva may amuse you:-

Waitt [13], your Australian Employers' Delegate ... His record for godliness should commend him, as within the first half hour of making his acquaintance he told me that he was 'a lifelong abstainer, thank God', that for eleven years he had never missed morning or evening service at church and that for eight years he had been President of the Sydney Y.M.C.A.; one daughter was married to a missionary and a second daughter was on the continent, who 'though not of robust appearance was inclined to be rather high spirited and not a lowly godfearing woman like her mother'. As Sir Granville Ryrie [14] is sitting with Waitt for meals, you can imagine that the conversation is rather stilted, or perhaps I should say one-sided, as Waitt is a great talker, and on watching the High Commissioner I should say that his conversation consists of yeses and noes.

I enclose confirmation from a German source of my frequently repeated theory that inspired political cartoons do more to swing public opinion than most other factors.

My suggestion that Major Jones [15] should be more communicative is beginning to bear fruit. History sheets of individual communists are beginning to trickle through to me, and are much appreciated by New Scotland Yard.

The Canadian enthusiasm for the exchange of diplomatic representatives is liable to lead them into an embarrassing position. Already the Chinese are flying a kite-it has been reported by the Chinese Nationalist official news agency that they are considering approaching Canada with a view to a Chinese Minister at Ottawa.

Your felicitations through me to Tyrrell [16], Hankey [17], Lindsay [18] and Vansittart [19], about their several decorations in the Birthday List, were very well received and I have most grateful telephone messages of thanks and appreciation. I enclose letter from Vansittart.

I have seen your monumental letter of 30 or 40 pages to McDougall [20] and although, I am afraid, the subject matter does not directly concern me, I was most interested, as the bulk of it covered subjects from which I cannot divorce my interest. This is not a suggestion that you should write to me at such length, which I do not expect. I fully realise the way you are driven, and the matters I have to deal with here are ones the consideration of which you can luckily leave, for the most part, to others.

I am, Yours sincerely, R.G. CASEY

1 At dissolution, the party numbers in the House of Commons were Conservative, 396; Labour, 160; Liberal, 46; Independents, 7;

(Vacant 6). After the election the House of Commons comprised Labour, 289; Conservative, 260; Liberal, 58; Independents, 8.

Under Ramsay MacDonald, Labour formed a minority government.

2 Until the elections, Foreign Secretary.

3 Leo St Clare Grondona, Australian-born publicist.

4 Still aged only 26, 'Rab' Butler was to have a long and varied ministerial career in National and Conservative governments.

5 Of India.

6 Prime Minister from 5 June 1929.

7 Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet.

8 Jones resigned in mid-1930.

9 Sir Hubert Wilkins, Australian Antarctic explorer.

10 The British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition of 1929-31.

11 Captain J.K. Davis, second-in-command to Mawson.

12 On 31 May Bruce had cabled Sir Eric Geddes (former cabinet minister, a former Chairman of Imperial Airways and presently Chairman of Dunlop Rubber Co.) that the Australian Government was prepared to subsidise the Singapore-Australia link of a United Kingdom-Australia air service if an Australian company were formed to operate this link. This cable and another to Casey of the same date advising him of the cable to Geddes are on file AA:A1420.

13 William Waitt, manager of John Danks and Son Pry Ltd, nominee of the Associated Chamber of Manufactures of Australia as a delegate in 1929 to the annual International Labour Organisation conference.

14 Australian High Commissioner.

15 Major H.E. Jones, Director of the Commonwealth Investigation Branch.

16 Sir William Tyrrell, Ambassador to France, had been created Baron Tyrrell of Avon. His letter of 7 June 1929 to Casey, asking him to thank Bruce for his congratulations, is on file AA:A1420.

17 Sir Maurice Hankey, Secretary to the Cabinet, was appointed G.C.M.G.

18 Sir Ronald Lindsay, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office, was appointed K.C.B.

19 Robert Vansittart, Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, was promoted K.C.B. His letter of 5 June 1929 to Casey, asking him to thank Bruce for his congratulations, is on file AA:A1420.

20 F.L. McDougall, Economic Adviser to the Australian High Commissioner.