12 JANUARY 1940, Page 6


ONE reason why a se:-tion of the Press, particularly the Sunday papers, ransacked the universe for explanations of Mr. Hore-Belisha's resignation was that their editors pretty clearly did not know the facts, and another was the invariable reluctance to accept a simple explanation, when an elaborate one—particularly if it involves some suggestion of scandal— will fit the case. I make no claim to omniscience in the matter of the War Office changes, but after full inquiry I am perfectly satisfied that Mr. Hore-Belisha was asked to exchange offices with Mr. Stanley simply because things were not running smoothly at the War Office under Mr. Hore- Belisha, and it was thought they would under Mr. Stanley. There is no question about Mr. Hore-Belisha's ability, or the services he has rendered to the Army. He has always been given full credit for them. But he has the defects of his qualities. He is always the centre of his own universe. He very markedly prefers reclame to routine. He is not lavishly endowed with the traits that make for good team-work. All this was known before, and it has caused difficulty before. If the difficulties did not diminish, as they have not done, there was only one way to end them. I believe it to be com- pletely true that no question of principle or policy of any sort was involved, and that whatever difficulties personality created they did not concern the soldiers in particular ; the War Office is staffed largely by civil servants. Nor was there any question of anti-Semitism.