“We look on you as a sure winner” – but party politics are finished

Ralph Glyn was worried that the constituency being nursed for him on his return after the war might be being poached while he was at the front.

12 Woodside Crescent
11th June 1916

My dear Glyn

I received yours of 29th May only last evening and hasten to reply so that you may keep your mind at rest. I am quite positive that old Smith Park has no thought or desire of becoming candidate for College Division – I do not even think that at the moment he has any thoughts of trying to get into Parliament but I repeat most confidently that I am quite sure he has not his eyes on College. He has expressed his desire frequently, in which I believe he is sincere, that when the election comes he may still be President [of the Unionist Association] and so be the Leader of the local organisation which returns you as Member for College Division.

Neither Park nor any of your friends have any wish for a change of candidate. But if unfortunately such an occasion should arise, take it from me, of course confidentially, that the Colonel would not be the candidate. Whilst the opposition would welcome him, our own side would not adopt him. He has put up the backs of some of our principal workers, quite unintentionally but still he would not command enthusiasm.

For all that he makes a very good President and would make a better one still if he would only be a little more free, so far as the Association is concerned, with the shipping profits. He takes far too much the business view of everything & I expect his letters to you have been on that line.

At a time like this when everything political is dead (certainly it is in College) I don’t think it necessary for the candidate to be on the spot. Indeed being on active service strengthens his position in the constituency.

You retain the confidence of your friends & have earned the respect of your opponents. Your position in College today is stronger than ever and I do trust you will now drop once and for all any of those fantastic ideas you have formed and believe me when I tell you that you are the one & only candidate your friends & supporters wish, both on personal grounds & because we think you are the likeliest candidate to carry the seat. We look on you as a sure winner.

College don’t wish a “commercial magnate” – they prefer a soldier who has been & seen. As regards politics after the war, I quite agree with you there must be a great change. People at home recognise this as much as those who have been overseas. The party system on the old lines is done. However we must “wait & see” how things develop. Meantime don’t worry but first let things go on as they are & whatever you do, don’t let Sir George Younger lure you away from College. If he does there will be a fine row.

I have written you quite straightly & frankly. Glad you are getting a run home & do hope your new appointment means good promotion. If you go again to France you may now come up against quite a lot of the College Boys. I suppose you know John Grant has been out there now for many months. He was home on leave early in May looking better than ever he did in his life & in splendid spirits.

Hope if you get leave you will manage a run down to Glasgow. All your friends will be glad to see you. Let me know.

Trusting you are well & fit as this leaves me.

Yours sincerely
A E McDonell

Letter from Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/37)

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The heavens have not fallen

Political ally Colonel Smith Park wrote to Ralph Glyn with his views about possible changes after the war, as well as comments on the latest war-related news.

196 St Vincent Street
Glasgow

4 May 1916

Dear Glyn

I note with interest your views as to the future. I have no doubt there will be great changes – I hope we will get rid of the lot of the lawyers – but all the same the party system will continue. I would like to see – by proportional representation or otherwise – candidates far more independent of the political caucus, which has really become a business, and this may come.

What a fiasco the Irish rebellion has been. The one good feature has been the promptitude with which it was quelled by the military.

The Govt have at last taken the compulsion plunge – & the heavens have not fallen…

We have already collected about £60,000 for the Princess Louise Scottish Hospital for Limbless Sailors & Soldiers – we are aiming at £100,000.

Trusting you will come safely through the war.

Yours very truly
J Smith Park

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/36)

I hope war may end this summer – and a national spirit of compromise will defeat party politics

A political contact of Ralph Glyn’s in Scotland, whose factory was involved in aeroplane manufacture, had news of the home situation.

2 April 1916
My dear Glyn

Thanks for yours of 19th ult. You of course understand that the financial deficit is mainly due to you not having paid in full your customary subscription. If you have decided not to do so I think it would be well to tell Nicol this definitely so that the Committee may know they must consider cutting down expenses, by getting a cheaper organiser or otherwise.

I agree that people generally are very sick of party politics but while I sincerely hope that after the war a much larger number will view matters in a broader & more national spirit, I much fear all the same that the party conflict will be keener than ever – it will be the parties that will differ & I hope to a large extent we may get rid of the “wait & see” lawyer class who have gone so near ruining the country.

There is some but not much improvement on our workmen – it is the women who are acting so nobly – but they have been so pandered to by politicians in the past that one can hardly wonder. I have a strong belief too that much of the trouble has been because of German money. I happened to be at Parkhead when the recent trouble broke out & I strongly urged that if the known leaders of trouble could not be shot they should at least be removed, & this latter I am glad to say was done & the trouble appears to be fizzling out. Our advisory committee has been kept very busy & I am told its work has been considered by the tribunal to be the best in the City.

You will be interested to know that I am one of the promoters of a Scottish Hospital for Limbless Soldiers & Sailors. We are getting a gift of Erskine House for the purpose – & the necessary land at agricultural value. Your Aunt HRH Princess Louise has agreed to be our patron & we have already collected about £25,000. By the way I had the pleasure of showing HRH over our works, in which she was tremendously interested, as wee were in her. She is a most engaging personality.

Did I tell you I had a flight in one of the aeroplanes we built? It was very enjoyable. We are building Zeps, so I hope to go up in one of them. I trust you are keeping in good health & that we may see you safely home soon. I still hope war may end this summer.

Yours very truly
J Smith Park

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/22)

“The Government are now told the truth and they quite like it”

General Callwell reported on the latest changes at the top, with a new sense of realism facing the Government – and absolutely everyone hoping to get rid of Lord Kitchener despite his popularity with the general public.

26 Campden House Chambers
Campden Hill, W

12th November 1915

My dear Ralph,

You are in the thick of things at Mudros. We cannot yet quite make out whether old man K proposes to evacuate Gallipoli or not altogether, but the PM is a fairly downy cove too and I think that we shall get the great man’s intentions out of him. Unless the decision is evacuation there will be a turn-up in the Government as a good many of them were very angry at Monro’s recommendation to clear out not being accepted after he had been sent out with a free hand. By latest news we have frightened the French as to their position up the Vardar valley with the possibility of the Greeks turning nasty and they are inclined to come back out of that, which will be a good thing.

The new plan of a War Council of reasonable dimensions with the sailor-0mean and us properly represented is a great step in advance and the General Staff gets quite a good look in and is listened to. The Government are now told the truth and they quite like it. Archie Murray deserves great credit for pulling things together. I have now got in Bird as Sub-Director in charge of MOI, which takes a lot of work off my hands. Buckley going off with K has been a great nuisance to me as he was my right hand man in many things, but one rubs along somehow and I suppose he will turn up again some time.

We have no idea whether K will return to the War Office. Nobody in it wishes to see him back and I do not think that anybody in the Government does either – even such mighty opposites as “Lulu” and Lloyd George are agreed upon that point. But the Public have implicit belief in him and he may prove a little difficult to definitely shelve.

I hope that you are keeping very fit and are finding adequate outlet for your inexhaustible energy.

Yours ever
Chas E Callwell

Meanwhile Ralph’s proposals for books to be sent from Scotland to the Dardanelles was bearing enthusiastic fruit. (more…)

Ex parte reports are not quite cricket

Ralph Glyn’s officer friend Stephen Pollen had returned from the Dardanelles.

28, Hyde Park Gardens
Nov. 9th [1915]

Dear Glyn

I am so sorry to have just missed you. It was so kind of you to have burdened yourself with a parcel for me & I am only glad to think your trouble was not wasted & that the coat is useful to you.

Many thanks, too, for the cheque although I don’t see why you should pay me a full price for a second-hand article! It is no use writing you all we hear here of what is in the melting-pot about the MEF. The centre of decision & the Decider have shifted to your GHQ.

I am to remain & assist Sir I.H. to finish off his despatches &c, & shall, I fancy, not be available for a few weeks more as we are waiting on various documents from your side. Subla [sic] Bay complicates the matter as ex parte reports have been received at WO & apparently have no small influence which is not quite cricket.

I would have liked to see the show through. It is nice to be home but not nice to come in the way one did! And what a difference being “in” it & “out”! The fortune of war & its no use lamenting.

I hope to be usefully employed again – & after all in this war, if one can be that it should be enough…

Yrs ever
S H Pollen

Mind you make use of me if there is anything you would like done.

Meanwhile a Scottish writer had taken up an idea Ralph had put forward to improve the supply of reading material for the troops.
(more…)