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Letter from Hugh Dalton to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

West Leaze, Aldbourne, Wiltshire.—Discusses his correspondence about Thompson and the Budapest Legation, and refers to the forthcoming party conference.

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Transcript

West Leaze, Aldbourne, Wiltshire
Sept 24th 1934.

Dear Pethick,

I have been thinking about the Budapest Legation trouble, on which Hankinson has also written to me. As you know, I got in touch with the F. O. about it in July & I have a letter which I will show you, in confidence, at Southport. I don’t think there is ground for anticipating that Thompson will be reinstated. Technically, of course, he was not dismissed, but his engagement was terminated, as, under his contract of service, was always possible,—his was not an established post—on grounds of economy. Hankinson holds strong views on the merits of ths case, & on the Vice-Consul. In his last letter to me he is again rather rash in his statements, & he should, I think, be careful not to lay himself open, by what he says or writes to others, to a charge of slander or libel. But I think you had better see my letter from the F. O. & have a talk with me at Southport. I doubt whether further representation by Hankinson to the F. O. would be of any utility to Thompson, & whether they might not, in view of H’s strong views on this particular matter, diminish his possible influence on other questions connected with Hungary, on which, of course, we know him to be well informed. I feel it rather difficult to convey this to Hankinson directly. As he is an old personal friend of yours, perhaps you would convey to him something of what I have written, & perhaps you could add that you & I are going to have a talk about the case at Southport.

I have not answered his letter, owing to a sense of the difficulties which I have mentioned. But I do not wish to seem discourteous, & I should be very much obliged if you could let him know that I am in communication with you about his letter & about the case itself.

I think we shall have a good conference at Southport. The Socialist League have ridiculously overreached themselves and are likely, on all the main issues which they have raised, to be put to flight.

I think that the tactics used of old by Fabius Cunctator will be seen, when Southport is over, to have been the right ones to employ against them.

You speak of “autumn chores”. I am doing some too, digging holes in the chalk and carting good earth, and manure, and rot heaps, for the planting of new trees & shrubs! I find that this keeps me pretty fit.

With all good wishes,

Yours ever
Hugh Dalton.

[Added at the head of the letter:] P.S. Hankinson tells me that he put his view of the case to the F. O. Inspector who came out to Budapest. There is nothing more that he could tell the F. O. in London.

Letter from Hugh Dalton to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

Ministry of Economic Warfare.—Responds to Pethick-Lawrence’s comments on his appointment to the Privy Council and his radio broadcast (see 1/196). Has advised Kingsley Wood that Boots ought to be exempted from the purchase tax.

Letter from Hugh Dalton to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

Board of Trade.—Defends the minimum charge made to consumers who have gas and electricity connected to their houses under a two-part tariff contract, but recognises that some revision may be needed in connection with rationing.

Carbon copy of a letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to the editor of The Spectator (Wilson Harris)

The circumstances under which Churchill became Prime Minister were not as L. S. Amery represents them in his review of Churchill’s book (The Gathering Storm).

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Transcript

11th. October, 1948.
To the Editor of “The Spectator”

Sir,—

The Churchillian Epic

In the interests of Historical accuracy I must express my dissent from the impression conveyed by the conculding† paragraph of Mr. Amery’s review of Mr. Churchill’s book {1}.

No doubt it is true that it was the decision of the three men on May 10, 1940 that made Mr. Churchill Prime Minister. But this decision was based on the political situation in the House of Commons.

It was generally recognised that in the national emergency there must be a Coalition Government. The Labour Party had refused to serve under Mr. Chamberlain. The question of serving under Lord Halifax never arose, but it is inconceivable that they would have agreed, first, because he was in the upper House and secondly, because he had been an active supporter of Mr. Chamberlain’s “appeasement” of Hitler. They were prepared to serve under Mr. Churchill. No other possible choice presented itself.

These facts may not have been positively known at the time by all the three men. But there was the strongest presumptive evidence that they were true.

Yours etc.,
[blank]

The Editor,
The Spectator,
99, Gower Street,
London, W.C.1.

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{1} The Second World War, Vol. 1: The Gathering Storm.

† Sic.

Carbon copy of a letter from F. W. Pethick-Lawrence to Hugh Dalton

Will try to speak to the Cambridge Indian Majlis (see 1/178) after his debate at St Catherine’s. Will send a copy of the evidence he intends to give to the Colwyn Committee nearer the time. Intends to go with the Inter-Parliamentary Union to the United States this year. Encloses a copy of a letter he wrote recently to Dr Lange.

Draft of a letter from F. W. Pethick-Lawrence to Hugh Dalton

Congratulates him on his appointment to the Privy Council, and comments on his radio broadcast. Wishes to discuss the purchase tax with him.

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Transcript

June 9
My dear Hugh

First let me send u my hearty congrats on your richly deserved P C {1}, th one honour which seems to m worth having & which does give one useful standing in the H/C {2} for more effective work.

Next let me tell you how much interested I was in your b-c {3} last night. I have been thinking all along tht it was H’s {4} petrol tank that probably wd give him his greatest trouble & it hasn’t escaped me how the B {5} bombers have gone above everything else for his petrol dumps. Your b.c strengthened my opinion & I imagine wd have th same effect on the B P {6}. In short I think your b.c was intended to say to the B P. “Hold on in good heart—if we can keep H at bay till Oct we are well on the way to victory.” I think you got this a x {7}

Now for a spot of criticism which I think a true friend shd always give. You struck me as being a little too dramatic & emphasised certain words too much, with the minor result tht those words did not come too well over the air & the major result tht you did not give as much the sense of strong confidence as you wd have done. You have probably noticed the difference between Churchill & D C & will understand when I say you were [there follows a mathematical formula representing ‘D.C.’ squared, divided by ‘Churchill’]. Finally I am not sure it pays to sound quite so venomous about the Germans as you did. It smacks a little of the Mikado & his boiling oil.

All this with your big heart you will take in the spirit in which it is written.

Ever yours
[blank]

If you have any free time say Tuesday evening or Wedday I should much enjoy a talk w you about the purchase tax.

[I have myself copied this letter out & sent it to H D from Twys.] {8}

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{1} Privy Councillorship.

{2} House of Commons.

{3} broadcast.

{4} Hitler’s.

{5} British.

{6} British Public.

{7} across.

{8} The square brackets are in the MS. This sentence was presumably addressed to a secretary.

Letter from L. S. Amery to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

112 Eaton Square, S.W.1.—His own view of the circumstances under which Churchill became Prime Minister has been corroborated by Brendan Bracken.

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Transcript

112 Eaton Square, S.W.1.
12th October, 1948.

My dear Pethick,

I shall be interested to see your letter in The Spectator. Curiously enough I had information directly contrary to your conclusion only three days ago. Brendan Bracken told a friend of mine that on the evening of May 9th 1940 Attlee told him that he would be willing to serve under Halifax but not under Winston. Bracken vigorously argued about this and ended by shaking Attlee considerably. In any case the decision, if it had been subjected to a Parliamentary vote, would certainly have gone to Halifax as the overwhelming majority of the Conservatives would have preferred him, as a safer man. Don’t forget that up to the last Winston was widely distrusted on all sides.

Yours sincerely,
L S Amery

The Rt. Hon. Lord Pethick-Lawrence of Peaslake.

I fear the above is confidential so I cannot use it to reply to your letter!

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