History of the Communist Party of Great Britain, 1941-1951 - Vol. 4

By Noreen Branson | Go to book overview

14
POST WAR STRUGGLES FOR
COLONIAL FREEDOM

It did not come as any great surprise that, after the Labour Government was installed, there was little change in the colonial policies previously operated by Tory governments. Strong support for colonial rule was expressed by Labour’s deputy leader, Herbert Morrison who, while on tour in America early in 1946, said: ‘We are friends of the jolly old empire … we are going to stick to it’.1 And Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin told the House of Commons on 21 February that ‘I am not prepared to sacrifice the British Empire’ … ‘I know that if the British Empire fell … it would mean the standard of life of our constituents would fall considerably.’

As already recorded, Attlee’s renewal of the Cripps proposals for a highly undemocratic constitution for India had been attacked at the party’s congress in November 1945, at which it was urged that a constituent assembly be established based on adult franchise for the whole of India. Thus it was communists – always accused of being against democracy – who were demanding free democratic elections, and a Labour Government which was trying to continue rule from above.2

By 1946 had come a huge strike wave in India, met with indiscriminate shooting by the police, and followed by strikes in the Indian navy and airforce. ‘The whole of India is in open revolt against the continuation of British rule’ wrote Dutt.3 Commenting on the growing conflicts within India between the Congress Party and the Moslem League, he said: ‘The internal questions of the Indian people and of the future state forms they wish to adopt, whether Pakistan or other, are questions for the Indian people to settle. They are not questions for the British people to settle or impose a settlement, any more than it would be suitable for the Indian people to determine the solution for the Scottish nationalist demand for Scottish self-

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