Party Politics and Decolonization: The Conservative Party and British Colonial Policy in Tropical Africa, 1951-1964

By Philip N. Murphy | Go to book overview

4
The Conservative Party and Business Interests

Political Parties and Economic Interests

The previous chapter demonstrated how an interplay of economic interests influenced settler lobbying of the Conservative party. Yet it also showed that there was no simple, determinist link between the policies pursued by a settler party and the interests which supported it financially. The UFP, although it received substantial funding from Southern Africa's major mining companies, had to appeal to a sometimes conflicting set of economic interests in order to maintain its electoral support. As a result, the party chose not to pursue African advancement at a pace acceptable to Anglo and RST and lost their financial support. This chapter seeks to examine the influence which the Conservative party's business links exerted over the attitudes of its members towards political developments in Africa.

As in the case of the settler parties, one must not assume that because the Tory party had close links with, or received money from, firms which operated in a particular sector of the economy, it consistently acted in the interests of those firms. As David Gordon notes, even writers who broadly accept the Marxist view of the state as a coercive mechanism functioning to support the interests of the dominant classes in society, have rejected such crude determinism.1 Magdoff argues that 'governing groups' develop their own particular sets of interests and that even a regime which is broadly responsive to pressure from a particular section of the economy will, if it is competent, occasionally resist this pressure in order to protect the longer-term interests of the class or classes it represents.2 Kahler notes that for parties which drew support from business, the question of how to defend the long-term interests of 'capitalism' was often a source of controversy. The economic orientation favoured by such parties could

____________________
1
David F. Gordon, Decolonization and the State in Kenya ( 1986), 9-11.
2
Harry Magdoff, "Imperialism without Colonies", in R. Owen and B. Sutcliffe (eds.), Studies in the Theory of Imperialism ( 1972), 162.

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Party Politics and Decolonization: The Conservative Party and British Colonial Policy in Tropical Africa, 1951-1964
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