741.00/6–1650: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Douglas) to the Secretary of State

top secret

3391. For the Secretary from Douglas.

I called on Attlee this morning and explained to him that I was talking with him on my own initiative, that Washington was not in any way implicated in my visit, and that I would like to talk with him very personally and privately on the understanding that what I might say would not be recorded or received wide circulation. The subject which I wanted to discuss was the serious situation which the Labor Party pamphlet had produced at home.
The Prime Minister seemed to welcome my call and agreed wholeheartedly that anything that I might say would be considered as personal and private and that it would not be recorded or circulated.
I then explained to him my very deep worry about the violence of the response of the Senate and the House, and throughout the US generally, to the Labor Party’s program and wondered what could be done to abate the tidal wave of criticism and the havoc that it might produce. It would be a tragedy, I said, if at this juncture there should [Page 1652] be a serious miscarriage of programs. I was not calling on him with a view to interfering, but rather with a view to exploring with him what might be done and how I could be helpful in calming the tumult.
I said that I understood, of course, that a document published by the Labor Party did not necessarily reflect government policy. That, on the contrary, it was merely an expression of views by a group within the party. I said, however, that it raised, it seemed to me, two issues: The first was the general approach of the Labor Party toward international affairs—economic as well as political. The second, within this broad context, was the attitude toward the Schuman plan.
As to the first, i.e., the broad Labor Party international outlook, the pamphlet published by the Party, its tone and sense, seemed to be a contradiction, insofar as Europe was concerned, of the language and the sense of the OEEC convention as well as of the bilateral agreement between the US and the UK, and I referred specifically to the language of the pamphlet in regard to tariffs, liberalization of trade, etc., and the language of the Labor Party document. After some discussion of the matter, during which the Prime Minister undertook to explain the pamphlet in its relationship to the convention and the agreement with us, I made the purely personal suggestion that it might be helpful if an authoritative statement could be made to the effect that the OEEC convention and the bilateral agreement with the US mirrored accurately government policy.
As to the second point, I said that I understood that there might be good and valid reasons which influenced the UK to refrain from participating in the immediate negotiations of the Schuman proposal. It was suggested that as to this matter it might be helpful if the Prime Minister could say that His Majesty’s Government does not, at the moment, want to put forward suggestions lest they confuse the forthcoming Paris meeting, but that at the appropriate time, when they will not be considered to be attempts on the part of His Majesty’s Government to divert or interfere with the negotiations, and if His Majesty’s Government views are sought, His Majesty’s Government would be prepared to make constructive suggestions, for it desires the plan to be worked out effectively.
Attlee said that he thought these two suggestions were well worth serious considerations. He thought the statement in regard to the OEEC could be made and that it could be coupled with the reference to the Schuman plan. He would take the whole matter under advisement and discuss it privately with one or two of his colleagues.