25th February, 1926


(Due to arrive Melbourne-27.3.26)

My dear P.M.,

It seems generally recognised that Colonel Jackson [1], the Chairman of the Conservative Party, is no use. This is certainly one reason why things move so slowly with his Government-there is no centralised party driving force to spur on the P.M. [2] to initiate things and push them through. This, added to the P.M.'s natural reluctance to get a move on, leaves individual Cabinet Ministers without any incentive to move out of a walk.

2. It is the custom in a number of big American manufacturing concerns to have a small band of men, who are familiarly known as 'follow-up guys'. When an order is accepted for a big machine or a batch of goods for delivery by a certain date, or as soon as possible, these 'follow-up' men are given particulars of the order, the departments affected and a schedule of dates on which the requisite raw material has to be delivered and on which the various parts of the finished machine are due to reach the assembling shop. Their job is to see this schedule is adhered to, to find out why delay takes place and generally to ensure that the company's word is honoured as to final delivery date.

Some efficient 'follow-up guys' are badly needed in H.M.G. When some draft document has to be approved by more than one Department, it is liable to most heartrending hold-ups through inefficient private secretaries, through the inviolability of Ministers' week-ends, and by the general lack of momentum of matter which it is no individual's responsibility to push.

The telegram to you on H.M.G.'s attitude to the proposed increase of the League Council is a shining example. The resolution that such a telegram was to be compiled was come to at the Cabinet of 18th February. The draft was compiled in the Dominions Office on 20th and went to Chamberlain [3] for approval on that day. He kept it till 22nd and passed it to the P.M., who dealt with it on 23rd.

His private secretary did not pass it back to D.O. till 25th (today). It may be despatched today. A full week.

3. A first-class example of a radical difference of opinion between the Foreign Office and one of H.M.'s Ambassadors abroad is to be seen in the present controversy between the F.O. and Sir R.

Macleay [4] in China, over the question of the future policy to be followed with regard to China. The F.O. suggest a loosening of our grip an the customs revenues, shifting the burden of financial responsibility from Peking to the Provinces, whilst Macleay advocates a continuance of the present control. Meanwhile the extremely lengthy exchange of telegraphic views continues between the F.O. and Peking. One would need to be a specialist in Far Eastern affairs to even venture a guess as to which was right.

This brings one to the point that it seems to me that it will undoubtedly be necessary at some time in the future to have a specialist in Far Eastern affairs in your External Affairs Branch in Melbourne. It is a highly specialised subject and the man who does the job should, I think, have spent some time in China and Japan.

4. Regarding Tyrrell's [5] pet idea of a British-Turk-Italian- French Pact of non-aggression to operate in the Near East (see my LON. 240 [6], page 3, para. 5). A Cabinet Committee has been appointed to consider it, with Chamberlain as Chairman.

Chamberlain is rather appalled at the idea but acknowledges it merits discussion. His first remark after reading Tyrrell's memorandum on the subject was: 'You take my breath away!'

5. I hear on good but confidential authority that General Seely [7] was offered the Governorship of Palestine but that the pundits of the Conservative Party got up in arms at a Liberal getting an undeserved plum, and the offer was withdrawn at the last moment and it went to Plumer. [8] Poor Seely must be getting something of a feeling that he is not wanted!

6. The 'Daily Mail' of yesterday (24th February) contained a leader entitled 'Great Britain and Turkey: A Word to the Wise', in which they solemnly shook their finger at the Turk and said that if the Turk was so wrong in his judgment as to think that there was any person in this country so ill-advised as to help the Turkish cause against Great Britain, well, they were jolly well mistaken! Surely there have been few such complete somersaults as this. The 'Daily Mail' and the 'Express' joined hands in December last to make the Turk believe that British public opinion was against H.M.G.'s policy of resisting the Turk claims on the Iraq frontier. There is every reason to believe that the Turk thereby believed that H.M.G.'s policy was unpopular in this country, and he (the Turk) was encouraged thereby to make a more intransigent stand than common-sense would otherwise have dictated. And now the 'Daily Mail' says to the Turk: 'Don't you believe a word of it!' People don't eat their words for nothing. I wonder what is behind this bouleversement.

7. I send a paragraph in my LON. 268 of this week re Imperial Diplomatic Unity. In the technical connection in which I use this term, the situation has to be thrashed out. But no form of words will start a 'Back to the Empire' movement. The spirit of Imperial loyalty is everything and the letter of comparatively little importance.

It occurs to me that the Canadians, South Africans and I.F.S.

might well have parodied for them the Salvation Army hymn:-

Count your many blessings, Name them one by one.

You will be surprised to find What the Lord has done! with the word 'Empire' in place of 'the Lord'!

8. Your telegram re inclusion of British agricultural products in educational publicity scheme to facilitate marketing of Dominions products. [9] Amery [10] was delighted at what you sent and used the telegram to great effect in the Cabinet. It brought about an amusing incident which Hankey [11] tells me passed unnoticed.

Winston [12], after reading your telegram, said that he quite saw the point and the only thing that caused him mild surprise was the remarkable similarity not only of thought but of language between that of Mr. Amery and the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth! Amery kept a stony face and did not comment, and the incident passed unnoticed!

9. King Fuad of Egypt comes to England in June and is to be housed at Buckingham Palace. His loyalty is, I understand, decidedly questionable and there will not be many of his movements, or those of his entourage, that are unmatched.

10. I am told that Lloyd George [13] is very unpopular with the King, who regards him as an opportunist who would be a Kerensky [14] if events shaped themselves that way.

11. Both Allen Leeper [15] and Arthur Yencken [16] are due to start their families on about 8th March. They wear the conventional air of outward calm and inward perturbation.

I am, Yours sincerely, R. G. CASEY

1 Lt Col Stanley Jackson, Conservative M.P. 1915-26 and Chairman of the Party 1923-26, appointed Governor of Bengal in 1927.

2 Stanley Baldwin.

3 Sir Austen Chamberlain, Foreign Secretary.

4 Minister to China.

5 Sir William Tyrrell, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office.

6 Letter 49.

7 Maj Gen John Seely, Secretary for War 1912-14. See Letter 21.

8 Field Marshal Lord Plumer, Governor of Malta 1919-24, High Commissioner for Palestine 1925-28.

9 Bruce's telegram of 20 February 1926 was cited at a Cabinet meeting on 24 February. See NLA or PRO: Great Britain, Cabinet Office Records, Minutes of Meetings of Cabinet, Cab. 23/52.

10 Leopold Amery, Secretary for the Colonies and for Dominion Affairs.

11 Sir Maurice Hankey, Secretary to the Cabinet.

12 Winston Churchill, Chancellor of the Exchequer.

13 David Lloyd George, Prime Minister 1916-22.

14 Aleksandr Kerensky, Russian Prime Minister in 1917.

15 First Secretary at the Legation in Vienna.

16 An Australian near-contemporary of Casey at Melbourne Grammar and Cambridge, he was presently Second Secretary at the Foreign Office. He had previously served in Washington, and had been Private Secretary to Lord Parmoor (Lord President of the Council) during the Labour Government of 1924. He subsequently served in Berlin, Copenhagen and Cairo, and died while serving as Minister to Spain in 1944.