Writing to the Defence of Empire: Winston Churchill’s Press Campaign against Constitutional Reform in India, 1929–1935

  • Ian St John
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of the Media book series (PSHM)


It was while touring North America in the autumn of 1929 that Churchill heard of the Viceroy, Lord Irwin’s, declaration that the goal of British policy in India was the granting of self-governing Dominion status within the Empire. Churchill was outraged at what he took to be the hoisting of the white flag of surrender in India. He was not alone. On 1 November, the day after Irwin’s announcement, the Daily Mail attacked the Conservative leader, Stanley Baldwin, for his willingness to endorse the initiative without consulting his Cabinet colleagues. In the Commons later that day Baldwin responded to the Mail’s allegation, declaring that ‘every statement of fact and every implication of fact contained in that article is untrue, and in my opinion gravely injurious to the public interest, not only in this country, but throughout the Empire’.1 But the Mail was not to be deflected and, on 16 November, carried an article by Churchill in which he denounced Irwin’s declaration as ‘criminally mischievous’. Dominion status could not be accorded to a nation in which 60 million persons were ‘untouchables’, the political class represented only a tiny fraction of the population, and racial and religious antagonisms meant that ‘the withdrawal of British protection would mean the immediate resumption of mediaeval wars’.


Conservative Party Indian Policy Daily Mail Mass Circulation British Politics 
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© Ian St John 2006

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  • Ian St John

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