CHURCHILL – ‘LOSS OF INDIA WILL BE THE DEATH BLOW OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE’
[ 22 April 1931 ]
On 22 April 1931, Winston Churchill, speaking at a rally of the Junior Imperial League at Chingford, warned that ‘the loss of India will be the death blow of the British Empire and every one of our foreign rivals is waiting to see that hideous signal hoisted.’ The phrase ‘loss of India’ is revealing, as one can only loose what one owns.1
Churchill urged Conservatives to ‘stand up boldly and declare their own faith and convictions on the question,’ adding that ‘the great victorious British Empire was now reduced to trying to make a treaty with Mr. Gandhi upon the terms on which the king’s authority was to continue in India.’ He blamed this partly on his own colleagues in parliament, who were then part of a coalition government under Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, agreeing to compromise their stand on imperial policy. As he put it, ‘the result of our following humbly at the socialists’ cart-tail,’and he would gladly seize any opportunity ‘to take part in a vote of censure on the government for their vain and disastrous policy in India. In no other sphere of government had our socialist leaders let us down so badly.’2
- ‘Death Blow if we loose India,’ The Gloucester Citizen, 23 April 1931, p. 6.
- Citation re ‘following humbly at the socialists’ cart-tail’ from ‘Mr. Churchill at Chingford: Conservative Policy,’ The Essex Chronicle, 24 April 1931, p. 6. The subsequent quotation from ‘Indian Policy: Mr Churchill on the Government Position,’ The Scotsman, 23 April 1931, p. 9.
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