No. 58 NAI DFA Secretary's Files P12/14/1
LONDON, 8 May 1941
Whilst the recent debate on the Vote of Confidence in the British House of Commons was a parliamentary triumph for Mr. Churchill, there is no doubt that a good deal of uneasiness prevails about the lack of speed in the war effort in this country.1
The Prime Minister is surrounded by a few people – Lord Beaverbrook,2 Mr. Brendan Bracken, and Professor Lindemann,3 none of whom enjoy much esteem in parliamentary circles – and there is difficulty in getting near the Prime Minister except under their auspices. Mr. Churchill's loyalty to friendship they say reaches the point of magnanimity but that he makes the mistake of accepting his friends' opinions too uncritically. Lord Beaverbrook's influence is considerable. I have no doubt that my well-informed friend was moved because of his steady opposition to Lord Beaverbrook. (I suspect also that Malcolm MacDonald was moved because he was the Minister concerned with the agreement to restore to us our ports). Brendan Bracken is probably Mr. Churchill's closest intimate. He is a man of ability and there seems to be no question about his personal devotion to Mr. Churchill over the past fourteen years; but in his earlier days he was regarded as a gate-crasher in excelsis and an adventurer in financial journalism. Professor Lindemann to whom I have referred in a report several months ago4 is an eminent Scientist whose political expertise is nil.
The Minister of Labour is criticised for not taking a stronger line with labour. He has not taken full advantage of the powers that are at his disposal and it is said that in consequence labour is not putting forward its maximum effort. Work has been held up in several instances by disputes, not between the employees' unions and the employers, but between one employees' union and another. Time and a half is paid for Saturday afternoon and double pay for Sunday, with the result that a good deal of absenteeism occurs amongst the workers on Monday and Tuesday. A big ship – the Princess Elizabeth I think – due to be launched in the middle of June will not now be ready until the Autumn. On the employers' side the excess profits tax is said to have been psychologically wrong and I have myself met instances of employers who, feeling that the whole of the profit goes to the State, have not made their maximum effort in economic management.
In the three Clubs to which I belong5 – each of which is frequented by prominent politicians, members of the three Services, and industrialists – I meet a steady current of criticism about the lack of co-ordination between the various War Departments. Sir Andrew Duncan6 is said not to be strong enough for running the Ministry of Supply. That Ministry, The Board of Trade, and the Ministry of Food, are at times in conflict not merely on questions of detail but on issues of policy. As you may recall, Lord Milner,7speaking of interdepartmental warfare in the 1914 war, said he could have written an illuminating history of that war without ever mentioning the Germans, and from criticisms I hear it looks as though matters are not any better in this war.
Disappointments and differences of opinion must be inevitable in a work of so gigantic a scale as that of trying to overtake Germany's superiority in mechanical equipment but I get the impression within the last few months that there are real grounds for dissatisfaction.
[signed] J. W. DULANTY
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