THE Ruhr situation became intolerable, but it might have lasted much longer had Poincaré remained Prime Minister of France. Actually he was succeeded by the radical Mayor of Lyons, Edouard Herriot, who was more amenable to reason although not possessed of any wide viewpoint on European affairs. To this day, in spite of his alleged advanced views, Herriot continues to be an ardent French nationalist in all things. It was fortunate, however, that Herriot succeeded to power, for there had been a change of government in England. The idealistic, compromising Ramsay MacDonald had become Great Britain’s first Socialist Prime Minister and had taken to himself the additional duties of Foreign Secretary. Had Poincaré remained in office, Mr. MacDonald would have been defeated at all points for his temperament could not have stood up against the cold steel mind of the Lorrainer. Mr. MacDonald was no Lord Curzon, who was more than a match even for Poincaré on occasion. With M.Herriot it was different and after a few preliminary setbacks, plans were made for the Ruhr evacuation at a full-dress London conference. (It was primarily a reparations conference, but there is no need to emphasise this aspect in discussing the question of f urther Anglo-German relations.)
It is almost forgotten that the plans for the evacuation were finally outlined in the Cabinet room of No. 10, Downing Street. No British ministers were present. M.Herriot took the Prime Minister’s chair and the German and Belgian delegates sat round the historic Cabinet table. I believe the incident of having such an international gathering in this room in the absence of British ministers is unprecedented in the long history of the famous house. M.Herriot was being openly criticised in Paris for his willingness to discuss evacuation even at this time, and the French press found in the pawky humour and rough Gaelic charm of Mr. MacDonald characteristics similar to those of Mr. Lloyd George, of unpleasant memory.