At War with Bill Jordan: The New Zealand High Commission in Wartime London

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    Abstract

    For the government of New Zealand, the role of high commissioner in the United Kingdom was of paramount significance. The Labour government's 1935 electoral success was followed quickly by the appointment of William Jordan to fill this role. British-born and with a very visible loyalty to the Crown and the imperial idea, during the pre-war years he was nonetheless not averse to offering stringent opinions on British foreign policy. An active participant in the League of Nations, he believed passionately in the value of collective security and the need to forcefully deter the dictators. The war's outbreak in September 1939 hit him particularly hard but his support for the British Empire's greatest challenge remained resolute. His High Commission was blessed with an abundance of talent to handle all the key issues and despite the considerable distances involved, a regular stream of visitors from New Zealand were prepared to make the arduous journey, including among them Prime Minister Peter Fraser. Their host was a complex character who was noted for a 'volcanic' temper and clashed regularly with members of his staff, visiting political figures from home, fellow dominions' high commissioners and even British dignitaries. Yet, for the sake of the Commonwealth alliance, all this was kept successfully behind closed doors.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)67-86
    JournalJournal of Imperial and Commonwealth History
    Volume40
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

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