Constitutional Change in the Colonies, 1951–64: West Africa, the West Indies and South-East Asia
For all the pressures upon Britain and the Empire in 1943–8, there was in those years an unhurried approach to the question of political advance in the colonies. Rather than create political institutions at the centre of dependencies, the Colonial Office had favoured development schemes, welfare programmes and political education through local government. From the late 1940s, however, political advance was considered for its own sake as the Colonial Office began to plan constitutions for whole colonies. This shift in emphasis — and at the time it appeared to be no more than that, for the Colonial Office was ever at pains to demonstrate continuities and hence its control over affairs — has to be viewed not only against the backdrop of Britain’s economic and international difficulties but also with reference to the Colonial Office’s position in central government. As colonies ceased to be mere Colonial Office parishes in the 1940s, so colonial policies were scrutinised from the broader perspectives of ‘national interest’. When the economic or strategic value of colonies was perceived, the Treasury and Foreign Office took a keen interest in their management.
KeywordsBritish Government Gold Coast Constitutional Change Colonial Policy Political Advance
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