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Carbon copy of a letter from F. W. Pethick-Lawrence to Anthony Eden

Gives an account of a further interview with his French friends on the dispute between the General (de Gaulle) and the Admiral (Muselier).



20th. March, 1942.

Dear Eden,

I have had this afternoon a further interview with the French friends who called upon me before. They reported to me what I have no doubt is already within your knowledge, that the General has publicly dismissed the Admiral and that a great many naval officers (they said more than 50%) have resigned their commissions and that the General now threatens to punish them—in what way they do not know.

I asked our friends what they suggested and they said that they would like to see each of the French Services standing on its own feet but related directly to the corresponding British Service, and that the General should be placed in an honorific position nominally above them all but without disciplinary powers.

I passed on to them what you suggested I should say to them, but they represented to me a slightly different version of the facts. I made it clear to them that my main specialisation was in finance but that I would pass on to you what they had said to me.

I shall be in the House next week during its sittings, but I do not think there is anything I have to add to what I have put in this letter.

Yours sincerely,

Letter from Anthony Eden to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

Foreign Office.—A settlement of the dispute between de Gaulle and Muselier is in sight (see 1/246). Most of the naval officers who absented themselves from the Free French Naval Headquarters have now returned to duty.



Foreign Office, S.W.1
30th March, 1942.


My dear Pethick-Lawrence,

Thank you for your letter of the 20th March. I am sorry not to have replied sooner. I have been waiting in the hope of being able to tell you that we had succeeded in reaching a settlement of the de Gaulle–Muselier dispute. This now seems to be in sight. It has been an exceedingly difficult and delicate negotiation, since both parties put themselves in the wrong, and even Admiral Muselier’s friends would admit that he behaved very foolishly.

I understand that the great majority of the Naval officers who absented themselves from Free French Naval Headquarters have now returned to duty. The great thing is to avoid a break-up of the Free French Movement and to restore harmony as quickly as possible.

Yours sincerely,
Anthony Eden

Letter from Sir Francis Low to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

East India Association, 193 Temple Chambers, Temple Avenue, London, E.C.4.—Asks him to chair a meeting of the Association, at which Professor Rushbrook Williams is to give an address on ‘The New Phase in Indo-Pakistan Relations’.

Letter from Sir Francis Low to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

East India Association, 193 Temple Chambers, Temple Avenue, London, E.C.4.—The Pakistan High Commission have drawn his attention to an error in Pethick-Lawrence’s address ‘A Visit to India and Pakistan’, printed in the Asian Review. Asks him to suggest a correction.

Letter from Sir Francis Low to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

East India Association, 191 (sic) Temple Chambers, Temple Avenue, E.C.4.—Thanks him for agreeing to speak at a reception for Jayaprakesh Narayan. Refers to changes in Narayan’s political position since the last general election in India.

Letter from Sir Francis Low to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

‘The Times of India’, 4 Albemarle Street, London, W.1.—Defends his view of Jinnah’s rôle in the partition of India. Is convinced that Congress was largely responsible for alienating him.



The Times of India, London Branch:
4 Albemarle Street, London, W.1

Dear Lord Pethick Lawrence,

I was very interested to have your letter of October 13th. When I wrote to you I was thinking more of the narrower question of the splitting of the Punjab, referred to by Sir Henry Craik, than to the larger issue of the partition of India. Both form part of the same picture and it may be that in some respects Jinnah was only one factor in the circumstances which brought about partition. But he was a very important factor and his attitude, following the introduction of the new Constitution in 1937, was decisive. Every time the British Government faced the question of Indian political advancement, Jinnah demanded Pakistan and thus blocked agreement. You know more about what happened during the visit of the Cabinet Mission, but in Volume IV of the account of the Second World War entitled “The Hinge of Fate”, Churchill records that at the time of the Cripps Mission his Cabinet considered a plan to declare India a Dominion after the war. He was then faced with a note from Mr. Jinnah declaring that if any constitutional move was intended the Pakistan scheme must be accepted, a statement which was backed up by Sir Firoz Khan Noon, then a member of the Government of India. There is no doubt that Churchill was deeply impressed by these notes and sent them to President Roosevelt in justification of his attitude.

There may be something in what your Indian financier friend said to you after August 15, 1947, but my strong conviction—based on experience—is that the Congress was largely responsible for alienating Jinnah. They refused to take Jinnah and the Pakistan idea seriously. At the time of the famous Calcutta Unity Conference in the twenties, when Jinnah was still a Congressman at heart, they could have achieved an agreement with him on terms which would have preserved the unity of the country. From a logical point of view the Congress leaders, as I know, had justification for their attitude, but logic sometimes makes bad politics. I have no doubt British Governments in the past sometimes found Hindu-Moslem animosity very convenient, but on the need to preserve Indian unity there was always insistence, and I know that Viceroys like Halifax and Linlithgow were very strong on that point both in public and in private. I also know that many of my Indian friends took that same view as the Indian financier whom you quote, and one cannot say that it is entirely baseless. But I still feel that the main fault rested with the Congress mishandling of Jinnah, especially in the days when he was still a Congress supporter.

One or two people whom I met in the Club after your address, including Lord Hailey, agreed with me that you put up a very good case.

Yours sincerely,
Francis Low
(Sir Francis Low)

Letter from G. D. H. Cole to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

7 Parsifal Road, Hampstead, N.W.6.—Defends his plan of nationalising the joint-stock banks, but acknowledges that, as the Policy Sub-Committee has now reported, the controversy must be turned elsewhere.



7 Parsifal Road, Hampstead, N.W.6

Dear Pethick Lawrence,

I don’t expect you expected to convince me: at any rate you have not. I should propose to take over the ownership of the J.S.B’s, without for the time disturbing their separate existence, or necessarily changing their managerial personnel, except at the very top. I don’t see any insuperable difficulty in controlling their operations, provided the banks pass as going concerns under public ownership; but I do see quite appalling difficulties in running a Socialist plan for industry in face of the independence and possible hostility of the Joint Stock Banks. However, I understand that your Sub-Committee has now done its report: so that the controversy has now to be transferred elsewhere. I shall hope yet to have a chance of convincing you that I am right—if we mean real Socialism now. Of course, if the Party does not mean that, but only another Government pretty much like the last, that alters the whole thing. In that event, I am afraid I shall not be the only person who will lose interest.

Yours sincerely
G. D. H. Cole

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