The Wind of Change as Generational Drama

  • Simon Ball
Part of the Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies Series book series (CIPCSS)


The Wind of Change speech, and its repercussions, can be read as a Tory generational drama. That drama had two linked elements. The first was the alienation of Harold Macmillan from his own, ‘great war’, generation. The position that Macmillan took on the future of empire was regarded as a betrayal of previously shared principles by those Tory grandees who had shared not only his formative experience in the First World War, but had been his colleagues in Conservative and coalition Cabinets since the 1940s. Macmillan’s gambit also laid bare a generational conflict, in his own Cabinet, between the majority ‘post-[Great] war generation’ and a vociferous minority from the ‘pre-[Second World] war generation’. The ‘post-war’ generation comprised men who had been too young to serve in the First World War, but had reached political and personal maturity in the immediate aftermath of the conflict. The ‘pre-war generation’ had reached political adulthood in the very different political climate of the 1930s: as a result their ideas about the empire were quite different from those of their elders. These differences had some impact on policy-making. More importantly, they shaped how men understood what had happened: this difference in understanding had significant consequences in Tory circles.


Prime Minister Foreign Policy Conservative Party Change Speech British Empire 
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© Simon Ball 2013

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  • Simon Ball

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