Churchill Key Idea 2


2.1: Views on Empire and India

  • Saw India as "jewel in the crown", illustrated in his 1930 book "My Early Life".
  • Referred to Gandhi as a "half naked fakir".
  • Churchill spoke at an Indian Empire Society meeting (anti-independence).
  • Churchill founded the India Defence League (anti-independence) with the support of the Daily Mail, The Morning Post and 57 Conservative MPs.
  • He argued that Indian independence would affect the Lancashire cotton trade.
  • Alternative to independence was repression.
  • Churchill believed in the "white man's burden" and feared religious conflict between Hindus and Muslims were India to become independent.
  • Churchill had "India on the brain" from 1929 to 1935, another of his obsessions, similarly to Communism.
  • Churchill had served in India in 1896 and had also been Colonial Secretary under the Liberals from 1921 to 1922.
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2.2: Clash with party and government over India

  • Against 1931 Round Table Conference in London with Indian Congress Party and Gandhi.
  • Most parties agreed that some form of Indian independence was required, meaning that Churchill became an outsider.
  • Government of India Act (1935) created a federal government; India ran internal affairs under British control, however a federation did not emerge due to objection from Indian Princes.
  • Against Churchill's wishes, son Randolph stood as an anti-independence candidate in a by-election (1935) and lost, badly reflecting on Churchill.
  • Indian Viceroy Linlithgow declared war (1939) on India's behalf without consulting the Indian Congress Party, who then demanded a post-war constitution which Britain refused and so Congress Party members resigned.
  • Churchill agreed to Cripps India mission, which failed and resulted in a "Quit India" campaign.
  • The Congress Party was outlawed and civil disobedience increased.
  • The Bengal Famine (1942-3) resulted in 3 million deaths. Churchill failed to send enough aid.
  • The Atlantic Charter (1941) indicated a commitment to democracy.
  • India had a civil war (1947) upon independence, causing it to split into India and Pakistan.
  • In 1942, India were threatened by Japan and so Attlee proposed a post-war constitution in order to get the Congress Party back on side and appease the US.
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2.3: Attitudes towards Germany after 1933

  • Began warning against German rearmament from Nov 1932 and feared expansion. German rearmament began in 1935.
  • Still unsure of Hitler in 1935, believed he could "let loose upon the world another war" or "restore peace and honour to the German nation" but disliked his anti-semitism so never met him.
  • Exaggerated the threat of Luftwaffe - only 4000 by 1939.
  • Wanted to revise the Treaty of Versailles but only from a position of power.
  • 1935 Churchill opposed Anglo-German navy treaty despite voting for it with government.
  • Favoured a Grand Alliance against Germany by Chamberlain didn't repsond to Roosevelt's call for an international conference in 1938 and sent a low level mission to the USSR too late as they had already signed a non-aggression treaty with Germany.
  • Grand Alliance impractical as US were isolationist, Soviets were undergoing economic and social change and France were divided on the issue.
  • Threat from Japan and from Italy were arguably greater than that from Germany.
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2.4: Views on rearmament and appeasement

  • Ten Year Rule ended in 1932 and Britain was militarily behind others.
  • Opposed an international disarmament conference to reduce British and French arms (1933).
  • Appeasement was also fuelled by a fear of communism.
  • Churchill didn't demand action over Italian invasion of Abyssinia (1935), or the German remilitarisation of the Rhineland (1936), or Anschluss (1938).
  • Left wing of Labour also opposed appeasement but refused to work with Churchill.
  • 1935 Churchill warned of vulnerability to German aircraft and urged a build up of the RAF.
  • Baldwin admitted in not rearming before the 1935 election as it would cause him to lose.
  • Cost of rearmament, especially during the depression, would have been very high.
  • Churchill focused on need for air defences rather than tanks and navy.
  • Thought war should've been threatened over Czechoslovakia 1938 despite it being land-locked.
  • Wished Chamberlain "God Speed" and shook his hand before Munich.
  • Anti-appeasers: Anthony Eden (resigned 1938), Evening Standard and Daily Telegraph.
  • Saw appeasement as a national shame: "peace with dishonour", abstained from vote.
  • Only just survived a vote of no confidence in his constituency after Munich.
  • War was unpopular; Hitler was popular in Germany and democratically elected, and Britain was economically weak.
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