The 1930 Imperial Conference
The accumulating tension described in the last chapter rose to the surface at the 1930 Imperial Conference. But before dealing with the course of that Conference, it is necessary, first of all, to set it in the context of changing international conditions, especially the failure of the Locarno system to stabilise permanently European relations. Clearly this latter point can only be dealt with very briefly here. It is enough to state that the continuance of Franco-German rivalry undermined the liberal regime in Weimar Germany and destroyed any possibility of replacing the security obsessions of France with a spirit of reconciliation. Consequently the increase in tariffs and arms expenditure and opposed alignments from 1928/29 onwards induced a psychology of crisis in European relations. In Britain this led to a reaction against the continued sacrifice of British interests for the sake of Europe. One example of this was the position taken up by Philip Snowden,1 the Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the 1929 Hague reparations conference where he insisted that the UK’s share of payments had been consistently whittled away without a comparable degree of restraint and compromise emerging from other countries, and that henceforth the Labour government would reject additional cuts. Although League enthusiasts condemned this as a lamentable recrudescence of power politics (alleging that the Chancellor was ‘blocking the peace of Europe for a matter of £2 1/2 millions a year’,2) it did express the ‘Britain First’ sentiments which increasingly characterised domestic opinion.
KeywordsLabour Government Dominion Service British Official Military Cooperation Wilful Blindness
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