763.72/12568: Telegram

The Ambassador in Great Britain ( Davis ) to the Acting Secretary of State

4759. Your 6913, March 16th 6 p.m.8 and see telegram 787 December 18th from military attaché to military staff. The voting in [Page 414]the general election was marked by a singular apathy, it is only the women voters who appear to have turned out in force. The Labor Party also asserts that its vote was cast at nearly full strength. During the last week many people appeared to become somewhat disgusted at the actions of both the Coalition and Liberal candidates and many voters therefore refrained from voting at all. The days of the campaign were marked by considerable bitterness, and some rather biting personalities between the Prime Minister and Mr. Asquith, but these were only caused by the heat of the contest and should have no permanent effect. Prophecies as to the outcome of the election are varied and for the present quite worthless inasmuch as the votes are not counted until December 28th on account of the return of the soldiers’ votes cast in France, many of which have not yet been received. The press is chiefly occupied with the President’s visit to Paris, of which long accounts are given. The sole question concerning which any anxiety is expressed is that of the freedom of the seas. The American and British attitudes on this point have [been] exhaustively considered and exposed at length. For the most part criticism is withheld pending some definite statement of the President’s views on this matter which are being very anxiously awaited. Should they not coincide with the views of the Conservative Party here there will be considerable protest. The Conservative view as set forth by the Morning Post and other leading organs is that by peculiar position of this country and its absolute dependence upon the control of the seas and waterways leading to its outlying possessions no new doctrine can be acceptable which in any way diminishes its control over transportation to and from the possible enemy. It is pointed out that the science of warfare has changed to such an extent that nations now fight almost en masse and that practically every commodity imported and exported has a direct bearing on the prosecution of hostilities. The British view is that a strict control over transportation should be made possible, and a blockade should be permissible as effective as any large navy can make it. There is little pronounced objection to diminishing the size of the British fleet providing it maintains its superiority to those of the other powers. A considerable increase of our own Navy might be looked upon with suspicion in some quarters but I think not by the majority as long as good Anglo-American relations are assured at any rate. Interest centers in the future international laws of sea control and blockade rather than in the relative size of our armaments.

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Davis
  1. Not printed.