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Colin Sparks

Labour and Imperialism

(Spring 1985)

From International Socialism 2 : 26, Spring 1985, pp. 54–67.
Transcribed by Christian Høgsbjerg.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Hong Kong, Gibraltar, the Falklands ... Northern Ireland: there is not much left these days of the British Empire, but there is still enough to cause major rows in British politics. It is a short three years since the government fought a war in the South Atlantic which showed how very seriously the British ruling class still regards its overseas interests. In that case it might not have been the actual scrap of land that was really at stake, but the lesson was obvious: despite its economic decay British capitalism still disposed of a powerful military machine.

Other lessons were very obvious too: the impact of the Falklands war on the internal politics of Britain told us a great deal about both the Tories and their opponents. From our point of view, the reaction of the Labour party was the most interesting internal consequence of the war. To see the Tory party waving the Union Jack and singing patriotic songs was revolting but quite unexceptional. To hear the following was another matter:

So far the Falkland Islanders have been betrayed. The responsibility for the betrayal rests with the government. The government must prove by its deeds – they will never be able to do it by words – that they are not responsible for the betrayal and cannot be faced with that charge! [1]

Michael Foot, leader of the left and leader of the Labour Party, actually urging the Tories on to the slaughter came as a surprise even to those of us who expect very little from the Labour Party.

In the case of Michael Foot, there was in fact little cause for surprise. Back in 1940, writing under the penname ‘Cato’, he published a book called Guilty Men. This dealt extensively with the way in which Tory appeasers and Labour pacifists had prepared the way for the military disasters of that year by their policies in the twenties and thirties. They were, for Foot, the ‘guilty men’. By contrast, his heroes were now in power, the people who had always backed militarism and war:

On May 10th the Chamberlain government fell, and Mr Churchill took power. A new determination at once broke through. Already, and at long last, the aeroplanes, the tanks, the arms of every kind are piling up ...

In Mr Churchill as Premier, and in his three service supply chiefs, Ernest Bevin, Herbert Morrison and Lord Beaverbrook (to name only four) we have an assurance that all that is within the range of human achievement will be done to make this island ‘a fortress’ ...

The Nation is united to a man in its desire to prosecute the war in total form ... [2]

Foot, then, has long believed in rallying round the flag and ditching mere party differences (his Mr Churchill was one of the hard liners in the General Strike, Bevin one of the treacherous bureaucrats) in the interests of defending the British Empire.

Foot was not alone. The overwhelming bulk of Labour MPs lined up behind the war. Kinnock was, for him, surprisingly quiet, but he too supported sending the task force, believing that it was ‘necessary and unavoidable’. [3] It is only now, years later, that it has become fashionable for Labour MPs to distance themselves from the slaughter in the South Atlantic.

One of the ways to help understand what went on then, and what might happen again in the future, is to look at the history of the Labour party on the questions of war and the colonial empire. After all, prominently displayed on the front cover of Guilty Men was the following quotation from Churchill: ‘The use of recriminating about the past is to enforce effective action at the present.’ It is sometimes possible to learn from the militants of the enemy class.

In this article I want to show that we were quite wrong to have been surprised: the leadership of the Labour party has always been keen to paint itself red, white and blue at the first hint of a war or the first rumble of unrest in a colony. [4] I do not intend to look at Labour and Ireland: that story is as sordid as the one I have to tell here, but it raises slightly different questions and is best treated separately. Neither do I intend to write about the early history of the Labour party. I have sketched their record elsewhere and there is little to add apart from detail. [5] It is also, I think, true to say that few people active in the Labour movement today have many illusions in the pre-1939 Labour party, so any further excavation would only be of historical, rather than political, interest. [6] Suffice it to say that I can find nothing in the earlier history to modify the analysis I here present.

There are three important claims made about the Labour party and the British Empire. The first concerns its glorious role in the Second World War. The second concerns its behaviour in the period of the Attlee government. The third concerns its alleged opposition to the Suez adventure. I intend to look at the reality of these events in turn.

The Second World War

The issue of which position socialists should take towards the Second World War is one which still divides the left. The difficulty for us arises from the fact that while the war was undoubtedly one between rival imperialisms, the Nazis seemed to present a real threat of extinction to all forms of working-class organisation: it therefore is a contentious thing to argue the classic position developed by Lenin over the First World War and to call for the defeat of your own ruling class. One thing, however, is clear to all of us: that the war could not be seen as a simple war for the defence of democracy. As George Orwell pointed out in July 1939, any claim that Britain was in a position to lead any struggle for the defence of democracy always rested on ‘an unspoken clause ... “not counting niggers”.’ [7] The fact was that whatever democratic rights the British working class might have won for itself at home, the British ruling class presided over a vast prison house of torture, murder and exploitation of global extent. Many of the soldiers who would be expected to die in defence of democracy would be Indians and Africans denied even the most elementary democratic rights at home.

Much of this was apparent to the leadership of the Labour party at the outbreak of the war. Attlee, the leader of the party, was after all a man whose reputation was as the representative of the left. However, the immediate response to Chamberlain’s declaration of war, made by Deputy Leader Arthur Greenwood, was completely unequivocal in its support for any and every measure that the government might put forward:

We have given proof in this Chamber in the past few days that we shall give wholehearted support to the measures necessary to equip this state with the powers that are desired. That support, I pledge this House, will continue. In other directions, according to our opportunities, we shall make our full contribution to the national cause. May the war be swift and sure, and may the peace which follows stand proudly for ever on the shattered ruins of an evil name. [8]

In the debate that followed only McGovern and Lansbury, ILP pacifists, spoke against the war, and they without enthusiasm. Much more confident was the intervention of Brigadier-General Sir Henry Croft:

I will only detain the House for a few minutes, but as there has not so far been any right-wing supporter of the government I should like to say that I believe I am speaking on behalf of those old Tories in the country that from the bottom of our hearts we welcome the speeches and the spirit of the Opposition in this House and in the country. We feel that today we are all one brotherhood, fighting for our very existence, and we pray that that great unity ... will persist. [9]

The only people who were sufficiently unsporting as to point out that while defeating the Nazis was only a prospect there were things which could be done right now, were the Indian National Congress, whose leadership argued that if the British meant seriously that they were fighting a war for democracy then national self-determination for India should be a war-aim.

By 3 October, in a debate on the war situation, Attlee for the Labour party had come to accept that qualification:

It is very vital in this struggle that we should make it clear by deeds as well as by words that we are standing for democracy and not for imperialism. We have to consider that fact in dealing with all these people who are standing together with us in this war. We must not think that because there is a war on development under self-government should stop in our Colonial Empire ... In this connection I would refer to the great country of India. The Indian people are with us in our fight for democracy, but they wish to come in not as dependants but as free and equal partners ... I hope we shall get a statement in this House, and I hope it will be one such as will show the Indian people that in this matter they are coming in on a level with us. I say that because it is an outstanding instance of the need for telling the whole world what this country stands for [10]

The Chamberlain government, of course, made no such statement, and Attlee was in no position to force it to. But Attlee, despite the fine talk, had been very careful not to make a declaration of Indian independence a condition of his support for the war. Despite the failure of the government to make any shift at all, the Labour party continued to give absolutely unconditional support to the war.

This turned out well for Attlee and the Labour party. The official position, outlined by Attlee himself in the 1939 pamphlet Labour’s Peace Aims was that:

‘We seek no favoured position. We do not demand from others what we are not prepared to concede ourselves ... It is the recognition of the right of all nations, great or small, of whatever colour or creed, to have the right to live...’ [11]

But again, there was no stipulation of these very reasonable aims as conditions for support. In May 1940 the situation changed radically. The Chamberlain government fell and Attlee and the Labour party were offered the opportunity of entering the coalition government set up to replace him.

It is as well to remember exactly who was at the head of this new government. Winston Churchill was not only an inveterate foe of the British working class but also a vicious opponent of Indian independence. He had previously distinguished himself by describing Gandhi as ‘a half-naked Indian fakir’. This open racist had, together with his crony Amery, opposed the Conservative 1935 India Act, which granted a small measure of progress towards self-government. As a token of his continuing hostility to independence, he immediately appointed Amery as India minister. What is more, his famous first speech as Prime Minister, calling for ‘blood, toil, tears and sweat’ promised victory and its fruits: he made it quite clear that the first of these fruits was: ‘the survival of the British Empire’. [12]

It was quite clear from the very first that, with Churchill as leader, there was no prospect at all of the sort of policy that Attlee had considered ‘very vital’ in 1939. Nevertheless the Labour Conference voted by 2,400,000 to 170,000 to send Attlee into the government whose founding principle was that it demanded ‘from others what it was not prepared to concede ourselves’. The best that Attlee and his friends could get in return for their loyalty to Churchill was that India would be offered self-determination at some unspecified date after the war.

If this was enough to keep the allegedly socialist Attlee on as Deputy Prime Minister, it was not enough to satisfy the openly bourgeois leadership of the Indian National Congress (INC). They had heard rather too many promises of self-determination at some unspecified date in the future, and knew only too well what Churchill and Amery stood for, to believe any such vague promise. They launched a campaign for immediate independence. By 1942 the ‘Quit India Campaign’ had reached such mass proportions that the government of India, directly appointed by these ‘defenders of democracy’ back in London, took action. They proved the moral superiority of British Imperialism by interning the INC leadership without trial, introducing a ‘Whipping Act’ which meant exactly what its title so vividly suggests, and turned the troops who it claimed were defending India against the Japanese loose on the Indian population.

On hearing the news of these savage measures, the Labour Party NEC leapt into action. They passed a resolution:

The Labour Movement is compelled to regard the present attempt to organise civil disobedience movement in India as certain to injure seriously the hope of Indian freedom ... The Labour Movement therefore considers that the action of the government of India in detaining the leaders of Congress was a timely and unavoidable precaution. [13]

This ringing defence of the democratic rights of all peoples irrespective of colour was no mere passing aberration for the Labour party. On 10 September the matter was discussed in the House of Commons. Churchill made a characteristically vile speech justifying the government’s behaviour. He claimed that the INC had no support in India, vilified their leaders, and argued that there had really been very few civilian deaths (500 even by his figures).

Aneurin Bevan, then a left-wing Labour MP, was moved to outrage:

‘I want to know whether the Deputy Prime Minister approved that language. I want to know whether the Lord Privy Seal [the left-winger Cripps] approved that language. I want to know ... whether we are committed to that silly language.’ [14]

What seems to have shocked this reformist saint was not the death of Indian civilians at the hands of British troops, which he did not challenge, but the language Churchill used to describe it. Unfortunately for him, Churchill was able to reply that:

‘... up to a very late hour last night ... the Deputy Prime Minister and I were at work on the actual words of this statement.’ [15]

In fact, the Labour rank and file seem to have been rather more upset than the left MPs, and the party felt obliged to issue an official pamphlet justifying its actions. [16] This argued that there was a firm commitment from the Labour party, as expressed by Cripps in his visit to India, that they would support Indian self-determination after the war was over. There could be no such step taken until then, and there could be no negotiations with the INC until it called off its campaign for independence.

This is one of the classic arguments against progress which is used in all sorts of guises by reformists when they are unable or unwilling to challenge the powers that be. They always plead the exigencies of immediate necessity, say the economic situation, as a reason why they cannot, at this moment, put into practice the policy they have always claimed to stand for. In this case, the argument was transparently weak. If, as Roberts claimed, the main task was to defeat the Japanese invaders of India, then surely free Indians would have been more enthusiastic about fighting and producing than those denied freedom by the British? And surely the troops and other resources used to garrison India and keep it safe for the British Empire could have been better employed shooting at the Japanese rather than the Indian population?

It is, perhaps, just possible to understand how the argument about the need to win the war first might cut ice in 1942, before the overwhelming productive superiority of the US economy had settled the issue beyond doubt. By 1944, however, the war was clearly won and the issue was increasingly one of the nature of the subsequent peace. In Britain, that was a subject of some unanimity, but the process of military liberation placed the British state in the position of installing new governments in a number of countries. In most places, the dirty deals of the big powers made at Yalta and elsewhere were adhered to: any local political force that got out of line was whipped in by its paymasters. Thus, in Italy, Togliatti was sent from Moscow to stop the Communist-led partisans carrying out a thorough purge of the fascists. [17]

Greece was to be the great exception. By November 1944 the Germans were defeated and the British under General Scobie set up a coalition government which began to build a very right-wing state machine. The main resistance to the Nazi occupation had been by EAM, which was dominated by the CP, and the new state launched a campaign against it. On 3 December its police opened fire on some 200 unemployed young people organised by EAM. They killed 15 and wounded 148. EAM responded with a general strike and on 5 December British troops began fighting ELAS, the military wing of EAM.

There was considerable popular opposition in Britain to this use of troops to prop up gangsters in a civil war. [18] By 8 December this had reached sufficient proportions even to stir some Labour MPs. They put down a motion regretting that there was ‘no assurance that His Majesty’s Forces will not be used to disarm the friends of democracy in Greece’. In the vote, out of 167 Labour MPs present, 23 voted with the government, 24 had the guts to vote against, and the rest, 120 heroes, abstained. Armed with this internal mandate, Scobie began to carry out Churchill’s order to treat Athens ‘like a conquered city’: the day after the feeble vote the RAF began bombing it.

Even as events developed into a full-scale civil war, the Labour party stuck to support for the government.

Opening the Labour party case in the next debate on Greece, on 20 December, Greenwood said: ‘This is no occasion for votes of censure. There is no challenge to the government as a government on this issue’. [19] As it happened, Aneurin Bevan for the left took a different view: ‘Where we landed as liberators we look like staying as tyrants.’ [20]

Right up to the end the Labour party was prepared to countenance any atrocity from India to Greece rather than to upset its cosy relations with Churchill. So far as they were concerned, democracy could be ignored if it got in the way of the interests of the British Empire.

The 1945 government

Aneurin Bevan’s prophecy about Greece was to come true, and not only in Greece. In country after country, the most corrupt local rulers and the most discredited former colonialists were reinstated by British arms. For most of the time Bevan was a minister in the government that gave the orders.

The first speech by the right-winger Ernest Bevin, the new Labour Foreign Secretary in the 1945 Attlee government, went out of its way to refer to Greece:

I would like to draw the attention of this House to the position in Greece. His Majesty’s government adhere to the policy which they publicly supported when Greece was liberated. We then stated that our object was the establishment of a stable democratic government in Greece ... Unfortunately this process was interrupted by an outbreak of violence. We then supported the policy of restoring law and order. [21]

Aneurin Bevan, the critic of December 1944, was now the silent supporter of butchery, but a new leftist emerged, one Michael Foot:

Events in Greece have moved very fast recently and they have not moved in the direction which any true democrat can applaud. [22]

That was something of an understatement. ELAS was defeated in a long and bloody civil war. The police were rebuilt by Sir Charles Wickham, former Inspector-General of the RUC. It was not until 1949 that the last 3,000 British troops pulled out and even then they left behind police, military, air and naval ‘missions’.

Elsewhere, British troops were used to restore Dutch rule in Indonesia and French rule in Indochina. Britain was a moving spirit behind the founding of NATO, whose original treaty included specific reference to the ‘Algerian Departments of France’. In Malaya the British government launched a military campaign against the Communist Party and, last but not least, sent troops to Korea. The only MPs to oppose that were S.O. Davies and Emrys Hughes. [23]

It proved impossible, of course, to hang on to India any longer: the British economy could no longer support the military effort needed to crush an independence movement which had even led to a naval mutiny. Elsewhere, however, things continued as normal. Even on the narrowest question of ‘industrial relations’ in colonies the new government took no initiative. If one reads the Colonial Office report on the subject, the only innovation of the decade took place under the Churchill government and consisted of sending British trade union officials to set up unions. [24]

That was a better policy than banning unions, but it has to be seen in the context of the way in which workers were handled in the British Empire during the tenure of the Labour government. In 1949, in Enugu in Nigeria for example, the police opened fire on striking miners and killed 18 workers. [25] Workers had the right to be members of unions modelled after the best bureaucratic practices of the TUC, but if they went on strike they could expect police violence that made Orgreave look like a picnic.

The only really unusual thing about Labour party foreign policy during this period was the extent to which they felt they needed to justify it to their members and supporters. For example, in 1946 the Labour party published a pamphlet by Rita Hinden which asked:

What should Labour do about the colonies? Should we blame as hypocrite the socialist who does not demand immediate independence for all colonial peoples? ... These are questions of concern to members of the Labour Party. [26]

These were, and are, good questions, but her answer was a familiar one: in the long run something would be done, but just now circumstances were not favourable. Indeed, her argument against immediate independence dripped with paternalism when it gave as its main reason for supporting the status quo at that time the fact that the natives were not yet advanced enough to run their own affairs. Doing something had to be postponed into the indefinite future:

Ultimately our purpose in the colonies is the same as that which Mr Attlee announced for India. We recognise the rights of all peoples to self- determination ... One cannot immediately apply this principle to every small British Colony, but there is no reason why we should not declare that this is the principle on which we are working, and perhaps to take the first steps in the most advanced of the Colonies, wherever it might be feasible. [27]

This sturdy and resolute imperialism, which proceeded without significant opposition from Labour MPs, was only part of a much more widespread foreign policy of reaction. The government became so identified with the forces of reaction that the Labour party felt obliged to issue a more general argument on foreign policy:

It is clear, however, that a minority of Labour’s own supporters are sincerely disturbed about the government’s activities abroad. Apart from disagreements on particular issues like Palestine, Greece or Spain (which are not discussed in this pamphlet), some loyal members of the party are genuinely concerned about the general line of Labour’s foreign policy – because it is held to take sides with capitalist America against socialist Russia. [28]

In defence of the government, the pamphlet claimed that Labour was in fact pursuing an independent third course moderating the excesses of both sides and seeking to improve world affairs. As the Cold War deepened, even this pathetic claim was dropped. The government lined up more and more closely with the US and, by the time it had to justify military operations in Malaya it was doing so in terms of the most strident anticommunism.

Overall, the policy of the allegedly left-wing government elected in 1945 was to use every effort to defend not just the British Empire but any other empire it could. There was nothing anti-colonialist or progressive about its actions.


The joint Anglo-French invasion of Egypt, in concert with the Israelis, in 1956 was an example of an imperialist military adventure, and as such is often compared with the Falklands War. Members of the Labour party who were disgusted with the role their leaders played over the Falklands often claim Labour opposition to the Suez adventure as an example of what Labour can do. The reality is rather more complex.

On 6 July 1956 President Nasser of Egypt announced that the Suez Canal Company, economically and strategically vital to Egypt but foreign-owned, would be nationalised forthwith. Compensation to stockholders would be paid at the latest closing price on the Paris Bourse. The next day the matter was discussed in the House of Commons and Prime Minister Eden made threatening noises. Instead of congratulating the Egyptians on gaining a further measure of national independence, Lahour leader Gaitskell argued:

On this side of the House, we deeply deplore the high-handed and totally unjustified step by the Egyptian government. Has the Prime Minister in mind to refer this to the Security Council? [29]

No-one on the Labour benches, not even the leftist Foot, congratulated Nasser on a spot of timely nationalisation. One Labour MP, an obscure figure called Paget, was the first to compare Nasser to Hitler.

What the Prime Minister ‘had in mind’ was rather more vigorous than referring things to the club of robbers who make up the UN Security Council. By August troops were being readied for military intervention. In the 2 August debate on these developments Gaitskell continued the same line as before: ‘It is all very familiar. It is exactly the same that we encountered from Mussolini and Hitler in the years before the war.’ [30] He went on to say that force could not be ruled out, provided that it was sanctioned by the UN – which meant the USA. [31]

Herbert Morrison was very concerned to deny that what Labour wanted in Britain bore any resemblance to Nasser’s doings:

One night Colonel Nasser decides to go out and enjoy himself, and makes a speech on the hustings. He makes a speech. Towards the end of that speech he whacks out a decree which he has just signed, or a declaration, that from that point the Suez Canal is to be nationalised and to become Egyptian government property ...

Sir, anybody who says that this has the slightest resemblance to the orthodox beliefs of the British Labour party as to the process of nationalisation – why, if he said it outside, he would be guilty of libel. [32]

I can find no evidence that any of the leaders of the left in the Labour party took a different view. Bevan’s own view was:

‘If the sending of one’s police and soldiers in the darkness of the night to seize somebody else’s property is nationalisation, Ali Baba used the wrong terminology.’ [33]

Five weeks later, the Labour party was changing its tack. The workers they had agreed to let be conscripted were obviously unhappy at the prospect of war. More importantly, the USA disapproved of the adventure and the leaders of the Labour party had become ‘statesmen’ in two governments whose proudest foreign claim was alliance with the USA. It was time to start backing off. On 12 September Gaitskell signalled the retreat: ‘At the beginning of his speech the Prime Minister referred to our debate of 2 August and spoke of the general agreement which then prevailed. I do not deny that over a certain part of that field that agreement certainly existed.’ [34] What was now going to be emphasised was the different assessments of the needs of British capitalism. Even the rhetoric about Nasser had to be changed. R.H.S. Crossman argued, quite correctly, that: ‘It is quite ridiculous to compare Nasser with Hitler or Mussolini’. [35] Having shifted its position, the Labour party was quick to cash in on the popular mood. The demonstration it called on 4 November under the slogan ‘Law not War’ was massive.

It is that demonstration that the Labour left of today would like to remember. The reality is that for two months the Labour party beat the imperialist drum along with the Tories and then spent another month gathering the courage to protest in the streets. What is more, the experience of Suez did nothing to cure the Labour party of its affection for the rest of the British Empire. While they reluctantly had to concede that independence was the immediate order of the day for most colonies, they still scrabbled around to find places to hold on to. In a 1957 pamphlet on The Problem of Small Colonies they were still arguing that independence was not feasible for such places as Pitcairn Island, Cyprus, Malta, Aden, North Borneo, the Falkland Islands. As it happens, Cyprus, Malta, Aden and North Borneo are all now quite big enough to be independent. You already know about the Falklands and I can find nothing about Pitcairn Island’s status in my atlas. The problem, of course, was never the small size of colonies but the large size of the imperialists. [36]


The pattern which emerges even from this brief look at the history is too consistent to be explained in terms of the venality, stupidity, or other shortcomings of individual leaders of the Labour party. Its explanation has to lie in the nature of the party and what it tries to do. The pattern of Attlee the leftist of 1939 and Attlee the imperialist of 1942, or Bevan the leftist of 1944 and Bevan the imperialist of 1945 has a superficial charm. The trouble is that, as 1956 or 1982 show, even in opposition the Labour party has been very keen on the military defence of the empire. It is true that we can find many individual members of the Labour party who are much more principled about their opposition to imperialism, but the party as a whole has never played that honourable role.

Part of the explanation lies in the suffocating electoralism that has always been the mark of the Labour party. If what you want to do above all else is to win elections then you gradually become very adept at sensing the popular mood and adapting to it. The un popularity which can arise from sticking to your principles is not something those whose life revolves around the election timetable are keen to foster. In the twentieth century, the nation and the empire have been two of the key ideological weapons of the ruling class and there is no doubt that at times, for example 1914, they have managed to stir up real popular patriotism. Bending to the winds of chauvinism is of course part of the explanation for Labour’s record on empire and war.

But it cannot be the whole explanation. There have been times when the Labour party has been much more jingoistic than its base – in 1939 and in 1982, for example. And there have been times when it has been jingoistic despite the sentiments of its base: the two or three years after 1944 for example, when it felt the need to justify its chauvinism to its supporters.

The other part of the explanation is that all reformists believe that the state is the main instrument they will use to achieve social progress, or even socialism, on behalf of their supporters. For them the state is not an instrument which is by its very nature designed to maintain the rule of the capitalist class but a necessary aspect of organising social life. So, in order best to use this state, it is essential to have it functioning as well as possible. This applies both to the internal functioning of the state and to its external functions. In an advanced capitalist society in the twentieth century it is inevitable that the external functions of the state will involve a greater or lesser degree of imperialism. So to seek to keep the state in trim is of necessity to aid and abet its imperialist role.

Add to all of that the belief that there is a common national interest within the state, standing as it does above classes, and you have the ideological underpinning for all of the capitulations to the state which litter the ugly history of reformism.

We were wrong to be surprised by the extent of some Labour capitulation to the Falklands war. It was entirely in keeping with their record. Jingoism is as much a part of the history of the Labour party as is Clause Four. The only difference is, nobody ever acted on Clause Four.

* * *


1. Hansard, 3 April 1982.

2. ‘Cato’, Guilty Men (Gollancz, 1940), pp. 124–5. It might be noted that Beaverbrook was then Foot’s employer.

3. Cited in G.M.F. Drower, Neil Kinnock: The Path to Leadership (Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1984), p. 96.

4. Just to show how naive I was, I first wrote a draft of this article at the time of the Falklands war, at the request of the editor of the Bennite magazine New Socialist. He turned it down flat once he saw it.

5. See Labour’s imperialist past, Socialist Review, 1982, p. 5.

6. There is, so far as I can discover, only one scholarly book on the subject, P.S. Gupta’s Imperialism and the British Labour Movement (1975).

7. Not Counting Niggers in The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, vol. i, p. 437.

8. Hansard, vol. 351, cols. 293–4.

9. Hansard, vol. 351, col. 300.

10. Hansard, vol. 351, cols. 1865–6.

11. C. Attlee, Labour’s Peace Aims, 1942.

12. Hansard, vol. 360, col. 1502.

13. Quoted by Greenwood. Hansard, vol. 383, col. 554.

14. Hansard, vol. 383, col. 307.

15. Ibid.

16. G. Ridley, MP, India, 1942.

17. See F. Claudin. The Communist Movement from Comintern to Cominform, pp. 249–351.

18. R. Croucher, Engineers at War, p. 324.

19. Hansard, vol. 406, col. 1860.

20. Hansard, vol. 406, col. 1875.

21. Hansard, vol. 413, col. 289.

22. Hansard, vol. 413, col. 315.

23. Hansard, vol. 413, col. 337.

24. See Colonial Office, Labour Administration in the Colonial Territories, 1951

25. To be fair, there was an official enquiry.

26. R. Hinden, The Labour Party and the Colonies, 1946.

27. Ibid.

28. Labour Party, Cards on the Table, 1947.

29. Hansard, vol. 557, col. 777.

30. Hansard, vol. 557, col. 1613

31. Hansard, vol. 557, col. 1617

32. Hansard, vol. 557, col. 1657.

33. Not I think in this debate. It is cited by H. Thomas in his The Suez Affair, 1970, p. 37. Foot also cites it in his hagiography.

34. Hansard, vol. 558, cols. 15–16.

35. Hansard, vol. 558, col. 84.

36. The pamphlet was called Labour’s Colonial Policy, vol. iii.

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