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India The beginning of the road to self-rule

Returning to Britain from the US, Churchill found Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour government had issued a declaration, in October 1929, that British rule in India should aim to allow India ‘Dominion Status’. A firm believer that British rule was a guarantee of good government, Churchill’s found himself arguing against colleagues in his own party. Baldwin had endorsed the declaration and nearly everyone else within the party felt that India should be granted limited self-government and dominion status. Only a few ‘diehard’ Conservatives supported Churchill. He fought vehemently.

Churchill argued strongly that only British rule could prevent racial and religious divisions within India resulting in bloodshed. But Churchill’s fighting talk didn’t win anyone over. When Gandhi and other Congress politicians were released from prison to attend discussions on constitutional reform, Churchill resigned in protest from the shadow cabinet in January 1931.

It is alarming … to see Mr Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well-known in the East, striding half-naked up the steps of the Vice-regal Palace while he is still organising and conducting a campaign of civil disobedience.
Churchill, 23 February 1931

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