The Climacteric of Empire

George Woodcock describes how the Imperial Conference of 1930, and accompanying events overseas, began the change of substantial empire into a shadowy Commonwealth.

It was in 1930 that Lord Passfield, the husband of Mrs Webb, decided to streamline the organization of the Empire. The former Sidney Webb was in that year Colonial Secretary, and one of the few convinced imperialists in the second Labour Government.

Most of the Labour ministers, whether they had come into the party by way of the trade unions or through the more overtly socialist Independent Labour Party, shared with their followers and with their leader, Ramsay MacDonald, a rather vague and sentimental conviction that the Empire should be dissolved, though in that year of world-wide economic crisis they found domestic issues pressing on their attention much more urgently than the long-standing issues of imperial injustice.

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