29th August, 1929


(Due to arrive Canberra 28.9.29)

My dear P.M.,

I have seen something of Ramsay MacDonald [1] and I am afraid my opinion of him has not been enhanced. It is a most strange commentary on democracy that men of such mediocre ability as this gentleman and his predecessor should hold such a high post. He is vain to a degree, lacks clarity of thought and expression, and wraps up anything he has to say in a dense cloud of meaningless words. Also, to my mind, he has a shifty eye, and looks the reverse of almost everything that a man in his position should be.

I find that this opinion is held in a great many quarters amongst those who come in contact with him.

I had the privilege, at the meeting at No. 10 Downing Street this week, to hear Lord Parmoor [2] putting his best foot forward-and that, too, was not an inspiring sight-to mix a metaphor quite thoroughly. This hoary old revolutionary showed himself about as muddle-headed as could be-and I can now understand how Lord Birkenhead [3] finds himself unable to resist the temptation to chastise him almost at sight whenever he ventures to open his mouth in the House of Lords.

I gather that the two men who are pushing the government's policy to international lines, rather than national, are Dalton [4] (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, F.O.) and P.J. Noel Baker (Parliamentary Private Secretary, F.O.). They are both clever youngish men with very advanced international ideas, and they have both very much impressed the members of the present Government with their ability. They are, however, very much lacking in experience other than of an academic nature and, to my mind, are people whom it would be dangerous to follow until their ideas had been very carefully worked over by others whose feet are more firmly on the ground.

I regret that my recent return from leave and the fact that I am going to Geneva tomorrow leaves me but little time to cover in these letters the Optional Clause business [5] and the several other matters that are of considerable importance at the moment. A good deal of my time lately has been with Harrison Moore [6] thrashing out the facts and the probabilities of the Optional Clause position and how best to inform you on the subject at such short notice.

I am, Yours sincerely, R.G. CASEY

1 Prime Minister. His name was handwritten.

2 Formerly Charles Cripps, a Conservative, he had been Lord President of the Council in the Labour Government of 1924 and now held the same office.

3 Until his resignation in 1928, Secretary for India in the previous Conservative Government.

4 Hugh Dalton, later a Minister in successive British governments 1940-51.

5 Under Article 36 of the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice, League of Nations members were free to declare the extent to which they admitted the jurisdiction of the Court. Under heavy pressure from the United Kingdom, the Dominions joined her in signing such a declaration at the League Assembly session in 1929. The consequences proved to be negligible but acceptance or not of the Optional Clause (that is, acceptance of Court jurisdiction) had become a fashionable issue, almost a litmus test of devotion to internationalism.

6 Sir William Harrison Moore, formerly Dean of the Faculty of Law in the University of Melbourne, presently a member of the Australian delegation at, the 1929 League Assembly session.