By Nicholas Rostow
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Additional resources for Anglo-French Relations, 1934–36
MacDonald, old, vain, tired and physically deteriorating, clung to office with the tenacity of the aged who believe that to release one's grip is to die. He worried about his Liberal colleague at the Foreign Office who aroused distrust and habitually refused to lead the Cabinet in his area of responsibility. 33 Of the two Conservatives, Hailsham was sceptical about Germany and afraid ofBolshevism. He contributed little but anxiety. The ambitious Hoare sought to lead despite his preoccupation with the India Bill.
MacDonald worried, without being an 'alarmist', he said, that Germany might 'challenge' within the five-year period thus posited. 'If war broke out in a lesser time', he declared, 'it would not be because of the military preparations of any one of the nations, but because of an upset psychology on the part of some nation'. He relied on the German military authorities' opposing war because they had to see that a coalition of the rest of Europe must be stronger than Germany. Yet popular zeal might overpower prudence.
On 26 November, two days before the debate, Neville Chamberlain warned the Cabinet against accelerating the expansion of the RAF: German preparations did not justify it; the Air Ministry did not need more planes and the aeronautics industry could not efficiently produce more aircraft; and acceleration would cost £250,000 this year, at least £500,000 next, and more in the future. Where would the government find the money? 73 Chancellors of the Exchequer and their Treasury advisers fulfilled their duties in trying to balance the books and limit spending.