No. 113 NAI 2006/39

Confidential report from John W. Dulanty to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(No. 55) (Secret)

London, 16 December 1937

Mr. MacDonald told me this evening that since our conversation of Wednesday night he had read the newspaper reports of the debate in the Dáil from which he had learned that the recognition which the President proposed to give in respect of Ethiopia was merely a de facto recognition. From the point of the European situation this was, he thought, less serious than the position he had envisaged in the previous evening's conversation. He went on to make a point of the fact that if we had given them earlier information he would not have misunderstood the situation. He asked me when I thought the Minister might begin to function in Rome. I said my information was that he would probably take up duties early in the New Year and in any even not later than the first week in February.

Mr. MacDonald said, talking confidentially to me, his main aim was to prevent trouble for us and trouble for himself. He thought that the political repercussion in certain quarters here would make for difficulty with him and the other members of the Cabinet who were of his view.

Later today Mr. MacDonald telephoned to me directing me to read an article which appeared in the 'Manchester Guardian'. He also referred to notes in the 'Daily Telegraph' and the 'Daily Mail', excerpts from which are enclosed herewith. I asked him if he had seen the letter in the 'Scotsman' from Professor Berriedale Keith. He said he had not. I gave him a summary of the latter and asked him what his Constitutional Advisors would think of the suggestion that we should direct a Commission consisting of the Chief Justice, the President of the High Court, and the Chairman of the Dáil, to act in place of the King. Mr. MacDonald laughed at the suggestion and said that as far as he could find Professor Berriedale Keith cut very little ice in this country. I said that might or might not be so but I thought it was most unfortunate that the Press of this country on subjects the beginnings of which they did not understand should be allowed to carry on a campaign of misunderstanding which was destructive of the goodwill he, Mr. MacDonald, was so anxious to build up.

I told him that after my conversation with him last evening I was reading about the conquest of India. I found it was an historic fact beyond any kind of dispute that a woman - Queen Victoria - called herself on the bidding of a Jew named Disraeli 'the Empress of India'. There was no reference either on the basis of consultation or simple information to the three hundred and fifty million people concerned. Whether Mr. MacDonald failed in wit to respond with the obvious reply of 'other times other manners' or memory, I cannot say. All he did was to enquire whether I was 'grousing' about our not being consulted, and if I were he would take advice from the Secretary of State for India, - all this of course jocularly.

[initialled] JWD
High Commissioner

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