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Fall of the British Empire

By wa2elomar Mar 18, 2011 1373 Words
not rebel on the invasion of the Japanese , this was insulting to the statue of British power. And then following in 1942 was the fall of Singapore, Burma and Tobruk in Africa. Even though all these colonies were restored after the War, the fall of them did have a huge impact on the Empire. Most significantly was the fall of Singapore, as according to Churchill “it was the worst humiliation of the British army ever.” Such event taking place gave a new image of Britain; it made her look weak, and it slowly started destroying its ability to maintain colonial power. The Fall of Singapore is also significant, as when it was invaded by the Japanese it was given its independence, while Japanese propaganda was all over radio stations in Burma promoting the idea of independence. These stations were heard in India and influenced the public’s opinion . Even the Indian national army who is supposed to be an ally of the British fought alongside the Japanese during the invasion of Singapore . After the invasion of Burma, Japan threatened to invade Australia and New Zeeland, which made them turn to the US for protection . This again demonstrated Britain weakness and incapability of defending its own colonies. The War did not only affect Britain’s prestige as a world power, but it also affected its economy, and that was the reason why the Labour Party, US, and a few conservatives like MacMillan, and Attlee wonder if it’s in Britain benefit to keep the colonies. After the war, Britain was not able to afford all the costs it was paying, after it all it was relying heavily on the US, Britain was deep in debt. After the fall of France, the British had to disregard the idea of not borrowing money in order to obtain what they needed in order to survive, which meant depending on the Unites States again, just like they did in World War one and “ if we are unable to pay, America would nevertheless continue to deliver” Churchill said. After the war many factories were bombed, which affected Britain’s exports falling by about two thirds, “and it has been concluded that Britain had probably lost about one quarter of its pre war wealth thanks to the war” . In 1939 Britain made an agreement with India which, it was to cover all the costs of the Indian national Army during wartime, however, by 1945 the result of this agreement was 1.3 billion, which completely changed the ‘economical Anglo-Indian relationship from creditor to debtor” . The Country’s debt grew to 3500 million which made Britain the largest debtor in the world . The government therefore had to introduce high taxes and rationing which made the people demanding for social reforms , and Britain ended up introducing the Social Welfare , as after the war the Soviet Union was a world power, and if the economical situation would not improve in Britain, the poor would start to support communism . The Empire’s economy did not rest during the 40’s and 50’s . In 1947 there was the Sterling Crisis, followed by the pound devaluation in 1949 which was run by Stafford Cripps, were he devalued the pound by 30% against the dollar in order to be able to keep an economic stability . And finally rationing which started right after the war and continued until the mid 50’s . Even the traditional industries were declining, the goods they produced were in bad quality, there was not enough technical education and the infrastructure was getting old. By 1965 Britain’s world’s exports in manufactured goods was 13 percent down from 33 percent in 1900 . 1967

India was the largest and most important colony to the British Empire , it was also the first British colony to gain independence under the Labour government . The conservatives were very attached to India; they assumed that they will always be the “natural guardian of India” . During the war, the Indians did sympathize with the British; however, they did not participate in the war for a very logical reason, why would they fight for democracy while they did not have democracy themselves ? During the war, the British started loosing control over India. While the Japanese were in Burma intending to reach Assam, the British started worrying about the Japanese influence over the region, as a result they decided to make a generous offer to the India in order to keep her on the safe side, meaning under British control. In 1942 the British made the Cripps Offer, which consisted of the cooperation of the Indians with the British during the War, and in return India will join the Common Wealth, however, this offer was rejected by the Indian nationalists . Later in 1942, a civil disobedience campaign “Quit India” in 1942 , resignations in provincial ministries riots and disorder all over India was taking place, 900 people were killed while 14000 protesters were put in jail The situation started deteriorating in India by 1945 and the British lost control over the process of transferring power in the government. Their plan was to give India independence right after the war, however, the Hindu congress was facing hostility and was alienated, while at the same time the Muslim League rose calling for a separate Muslim state , this created a lot of problems between Indians and no settlement could be found despite of Lord Wavell’s (viceroy of India) attempt to find a constitutional settlement . The situation was complicated as the British did not want a divided India, but at the same time did not want a centralized Raj as either will lead to more violence The violence and division in India were not the only problems worrying Churchill as during the war, he was being pressured by the Labour party and the United State to grant India its independence, while the Raj’s growing costs were emphasizing Attlee “anti colonial principles”. By August 1946, Jinnah’s (Muslim League) Direct Action Campaign in Calcutta ignited demonstrations and riots in North of India, while thousands of Indians died. Finally In 1947 the new viceroy of India Lord Mountbatten decided that the partition of India is the only solution to the problem, India and a separate Pakistan . Similarly to the situation in India, the Middle East was not giving any rest to the Empire, the ‘‘contradictory pledges to the Arabs and Jews`` Britain gave. The plan was go to give an independent Palestine to the Arabs and the Jews, with an Arab majority . There was a huge attack on Britain when ships of Jewish immigrants were sent back; the American president however, demanded continued immigrations of the Jews to Palestine in order to secure the Jewish vote . This made the British government angry with the Americans, Attlee commenting: ‘’ forever lay heavy burdens on us without lifting al little finger to help’. The British were being attacked by Jewish terrorist groups, which forced Britain to send more forces, one-tenth of Britain’s armed forces 100,000 men were sent to Palestine. This was equal to one soldier for every 18 persons making Britain pay an annual cost of 40 million pounds . In February, 1947 Earnest Bevin, who was the Minister of Labour during the war-time coalition government, came up with very critical and significant decisions. He confirmed a decision that was taken before, which is to stop giving aid to Greece and Turkey, transfer back the Palestine problem to the United Nations, and most importantly Attlee announced that Britain will leave India before 1948 . The conservatives were not happy with the current situation ‘’ ‘it is with deep grief I watch the clattering down of the British Empire with all its glories: Churchill told the commons in March 1947.’’ Many black Soldiers from Africa and the West Indies served in Burma with the British for their war on Hitler’s ‘’imperialism’ and their fight for democracy. The war benefited those solders were reflected to new ideas, so they brought them to their societies, later turning into expectations they now had, according to one Conservative MP ‘’ they will be going home to an old life with different expectations’’ , taking the example of Ghana, they were inspired to

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