Conservative Imperial Political Elite Establishment in the Decolonisation Process of the British Empire

Conservative Imperial Political Elite Establishment in the Decolonisation Process of the British Empire

The imperialist beliefs which many Conservatives were still professing after 1945 had been fixed by the history of this period (the Second World War). About half the members of the parliamentary party had been born before the turn of the century. It was still possible for a conference to be addressed by a man who had been Joseph Chamberlain’s P.P.S.. It was a Conservative belief that Britain’s imperial mission and the Conservative′s imperial mission were one and the same, and, Britain’s interest in the Empire stems from the direct interests of the political elite: for instance, the Colonial Services, drawn from the public schools and the ancient universities; moreover, the settlers and planters who emigrated from Britain to the colonies were the settlers and planters who emigrated from Britain to the colonies were largely from the Imperial class. Thus this was a further justification for the belief that the Empire was especially a Conservative institution.

Having examined the basic attitude of the Conservative Party towards colonialism, I can now continue my investigations to see why a party which considered itself the ‘imperial party’ proceeded with the decolonization programme, which began as far back as 1942, when it was, ironically, the War Cabinet headed by Churchill, which sent Sir Stafford Cripps to India in order to work out a formula for further constitutional advance in that part of the Empire. Furthermore, how the Conservative politicians managed to close the gap between the imperial sentiments of the party and the pressures of post-World War Two, was shaped by considerations of economic interest. However, a brief reference to the events during the Second World War is necessary, to assist us in our further examinations.

Within a fortnight of Churchill assuming office, the German army had reached the Channel coast. The German attack on Britain seemed imminent, since the British army was inadequate for the task of defending her shores, as most of the British and Empire forces were engaged in fighting in other parts of the world. On 4th June 1940, Churchill, in his speech in the Commons, said: “We shall never surrender; and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle until, in God’s good time, the New World, with its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and liberation of the Old.”15 Britain once more, as she did in the First World War, turned to American, and the Britain Government effectively accepted that without American assistance she would not be able to defend the British Isle’s Hitler’s invasion. Roosevelt, however, showed considerable reluctance to meet Churchill’s request. Finally, Roosevelt put a proposal to Churchill. “Britain could receive military assistance from the United States, but she would have to offer something in return.”16 In return for America’s help to Britain in fighting the war Roosevelt wanted ninety-nine year leases on eight British possessions in the Americas, stretching from Newfoundland to the Caribbean, on which the United States could build air and naval bases to strengthen its own defences.

This is a unique website which will require a more modern browser to work!

Please upgrade today!