Pillars of Empire: Africa

  • D. George Boyce


When in 1953 Winston Churchill, ruminating on his government’s decision to withdraw British troops from the Suez Canal Zone, told his Cabinet that ‘we are not animated by fear or weakness, but by the need of making a better deployment of our forces, and … in my case we are not going to be in any hurry’,1 he expressed what might be regarded as the aspirations of British colonial policy in the post-war era. He also articulated a more general assumption of British policy-makers, that the management of change was well within their capability. Thus the precipitate withdrawal from India in 1947 could be set in the balance by the notion that India had been led, slowly and gradually, towards self-government, though privately the Labour Cabinet on 10 December 1946 admitted that to make a precipitate withdrawal and ‘leave India in chaos’ might be regarded as ‘an inglorious end to our long association with India’: ‘world opinion would regard it as a policy of “scuttle” unworthy of a great power’.2


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© D. George Boyce 1999

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  • D. George Boyce

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