Volume 8 1945~1948

Doc No.

No. 4 NAI DFA Secretary's Files P12/14(2)

Confidential report from John W. Dulanty to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(No. 14) (Secret)

London, 25 August 1945

I paid a call this week on Mr. Shinwell,1 the new Minister here in charge of fuel and power. I had known him in pre-1914 days when he was an active supporter of the United Irish League campaigns in Scotland. He began talking about those activities saying that he was born and reared in one of the poorer parts of Glasgow which was almost exclusively peopled by the Irish: that until he was a man he had lived under the shadow of St. Mary's Catholic Church and had no companions but Irish youths. He said it was insufficiently recognised how much the Labour movement of this country owed in its early days to the Irish in the working class part of the British community.

He had been reminded of those days and of his early studies because recently, after his house had been bombed, and when he moved his furniture, he was interested to come across so many books on Irish history and modern Irish questions, all of which literature he had devoured as a young man.

He referred to the proverbial ignorance of the English about the Irish and said that he knew how little our attitude on the war had been understood.

He went on to say that it would be years before Europe could be free of war consequences, 'we shall all', he said, 'have to do a lot of forgetting; we shall have to forget many things, not only in this country but all over the world'. I surmised that this might be a somewhat indirect reference to his post-war attitude on our neutrality.

After talking about various personalities we had known in the Irish and Labour movements in this country, he referred to Mr. Churchill and said that although politically he had been critical of the former British Prime Minister, he liked him as a man and that they often have very friendly talks. I ventured to say that this was interesting because it used to be said that the one man on the Opposition bench about whose actions, more than any other Labour man, Mr. Churchill showed concern was himself - Mr. Shinwell - and further that he had used Lord Beaverbrook to try and 'shepherd' Mr. Shinwell into the Coalition Cabinet. Mr. Shinwell admitted all this saying that it was open knowledge that Lord Beaverbrook had tried to 'wangle' him 'But' said Mr. Shinwell 'it is hard to wangle a man who wants nothing and I have never wanted anything for myself'.

I had thought of a conversation with him for a few minutes only and more by way of courtesy than any particular discussion but he kept me more nearly half an hour and only ended the talk because he had to go over to the Cabinet.

I, of course, took occasion to refer to our coal and petrol supply position. He called in his Private Secretary and asked him to get the papers when he would look into these questions and see me again. I formed the impression that he would like to help.

1 Emanuel 'Manny' Shinwell (1884-1986), Minister of Fuel and Power (1945-7), Secretary of State for War (1947-50).