French PM Falls Victim To Outrage At Hoare-Laval Pact
The government crisis got fully underway in France. The Prime Minister, Pierre Laval, was forced to resign and the search was on for a new government. His resignation was a delayed reaction to the the leak in the middle of December of the Hoare-Laval pact, a botched piece of Realpolitik by which France and Britain planned to condone Mussolini's aggression in Ethiopia so as not to force Italy into the arms of Germany. League of Nations sanctions had failed abjectly to bring Italy to heel so the outrage in both countries when the pact was leaked was more sanctimonious than practical. The affair cruelly exposed the weakness of the western democracies in trying to deal with the dictators. It was a foretaste of similar humiliations to come.
One of the pact's major architects had been Sir Robert Vansittart, head of the British Foreign Office, who was resolutely anti-German. He escaped unscathed but his political master, the Foreign Secretary Sir Samuel Hoare, became the scapegoat and resigned briefly from the government. He was an easy target. His nickname was "slippery Sam" after a card game of the time and the fact that he had just been injured in an ice-skating accident was a gift to the cartoonists.When George V had his first audience with Hoare's successor, he is supposed to have said, "No more coals to Newcastle, no more Hoares to Paris." Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin was felt to have handled the whole affair badly and diplomatic problems piled pressure on him both politically and personally.