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«THE RHODESIAN CRISIS IN BRITISH AND INTERNATIONAL POLITICS, 1964-1965 by CARL PETER WATTS A thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham For the ...»

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compromise, was amply achieved.’ 79 At the conclusion of their visit Bottomley and Gardiner told the press that their main impression was ‘of a hardening of attitudes in recent months amongst both Europeans and Africans’, but they remained conscious of the hopes of all Rhodesians that ‘some way forward can be found which will reassure both those Africans who at present feel themselves denied full political and human rights and those Europeans who fear losing what they have earned and won.’ 80 Did Bottomley and Gardiner really feel that there was a way forward, or was their public statement merely part of the ‘justification exercise’ perceived by The Times? 81 British Cabinet sub-committee minutes suggest that during an informal meeting with Smith on 3 March, Bottomley and Gardiner had discussed the possibility of granting independence in return for a combination of changes in the Rhodesian franchise and alteration of

legislative provisions governing land distribution. The specific proposals were that:

election to the ‘B’ Roll would be on the basis of ‘one man, one vote’; the number of ‘B’ Roll seats would be increased from 15 to 26, providing a blocking minority of one-third plus one, to guarantee against retrogressive changes in the Constitution; the process by which Africans qualified for the ‘A’ Roll would be speeded up, to hold out the prospect TNA: PRO, FO 371/181877, ‘Rhodesia: Visit by the Secretary of State and the Lord Chancellor’, para.


Ibid., Annex B, ‘Final Statement Read to the Press, Radio, and Television Representatives’, 3 March 1965, paras. 4 and 13. Bottomley expressed a similar view to the House of Commons on 8 March 1965.

Wood, ‘So far and no further!’, pp. 285-86. Smith later wrote that ‘Bottomley’s report to the House of Commons was more reasonable and conciliatory than we expected.’ Bitter Harvest, p. 88.

‘Mr Bottomley Hears Tough Talk From Farmers’, The Times, 1 March 1965.

of majority rule in a measurable time; and the Land Apportionment Act would be

liberalised. 82 British ministers took note that:

There could be no certainty that Mr Smith would accept an agreement on

–  –  –

Government and the white population of Southern Rhodesia with him.

The danger of embarking on negotiations with Mr Smith was that, if they were to become public, they would be denounced by the other African Governments, including the Commonwealth in Africa, as a betrayal of the

–  –  –

United Kingdom Government then had to draw back Mr Smith would be almost certain to make a UDI and would probably publish any correspondence with the United Kingdom Government. 83 Bottomley and Gardiner were convinced that Smith genuinely wanted to reach an agreement and that his dominant position in Rhodesian politics held out the prospect that TNA: PRO, CAB 21/5513, MISC51/1, Minutes of Meeting, 25 March 1965, in Murphy (ed.), BDEEP Series B, Vol. 9, Part II, p. 523. It has been suggested that Smith reported to his Cabinet that in the private meeting he did not offer anything more than ‘one man, one vote’ on the ‘B’ Roll. SP/3/001, SRC (S) (65), 18th Meeting, 9 March 1965. Cited in Wood, ‘So far and no further!’, p. 284. Anthony Verrier has commented that the Rhodesian franchise was ‘so complex as to be intelligible only to a constitutional pedant.’ From Zimbabwe to Rhodesia (London: Jonathan Cape, 1986) p. 131. The franchise is outlined in the Appendix to this thesis, pp. 402-03.

TNA: PRO, CAB 21/5513, MISC 51/1, Minutes of Meeting, 25 March 1965, in Murphy (ed.), BDEEP Series B, Vol. 9, Part II, p. 524.

he might be able to secure it. 84 Over the next few weeks the British High Commissioner, Jack Johnston, discussed privately with Smith the formula that the British Government

–  –  –

discussions took place against a background of increasing tension, because on 30 March the Governor suddenly and unexpectedly announced that a general election would take place in Rhodesia on 7 May. 86 In his memoirs Smith explained that the election served two purposes: first, it was a means by which to demonstrate to the British Government that there was no possibility of replacing the Rhodesian Front ‘with more malleable leftwingers’; and second, it was an opportunity to obtain a two-thirds majority so that the Rhodesian Government could pass constitutional amendments in the Legislative Assembly. 87 Against this background Johnston reported that he was unable to secure any private commitments from Smith, especially regarding the proposal for a blocking third in the Ibid.

Wood, ‘So far and no further!’, pp. 293-96.

The last election had been held in 1962, so an election was not due in 1965. The Governor asked the Chief Justice, Hugh Beadle, whether the request could be refused. Beadle advised that if there was no alternative government and Smith had the full backing of his caucus, the dissolution could not be refused.

They sent for Smith and David Butler, the leader of the Rhodesia Party (formerly the United Federal Party), but Butler declined to try and form a government. Megahey, Humphrey Gibbs, p. 95; Smith, Bitter Harvest, p. 89; and Wood, ‘So far and no further!’, p. 291. Robert Blake has suggested that it was a mistake not to see Butler alone. If he had agreed to form a government it would most likely have been defeated in the Legislative Assembly, but this would have resulted in a general election at which the Rhodesia Party could have fought a campaign on the basis of opposition to a UDI. A History of Rhodesia (London: Eyre Methuen, 1977), p. 372.

Smith, Bitter Harvest, p. 89.

Legislative Assembly, and he was unlikely to be able to pin Smith down during the election campaign because he was wary of his position in his own Cabinet and with the electorate. Johnston suspected that Smith was attempting to manoeuvre the British Government into a public statement of its proposals for independence. This, Johnston recognised, could provoke adverse African reactions and he therefore suggested that the British Government might consider a statement of principles rather than specific terms. 88 It was at this juncture that the CRO formulated the Five Principles: 89 (i) The principle and intention of unimpeded progress to majority rule, already enshrined in the 1961 Constitution, would have to be maintained and

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(iii) There would have to be immediate improvement in the political status of the African population.

TNA: PRO, PREM 13/535 f. 100, No. 452, Johnston to Bottomley, 15 April 1965. Cited in Wood, ‘So far and no further!’, p. 298.

Some earlier accounts suggested that Duncan Sandys and Sir Alec Douglas-Home crafted the Five Principles as a basis for discussion with Ian Smith during the Rhodesian Prime Minister’s visit to London in September 1964. J. D. B. Miller, Survey of Commonwealth Affairs: Problems of Expansion and Attrition 1953-1969 (London: Oxford University Press for The Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1974), p. 202, n. 2; Windrich, Britain and the Politics of Rhodesian Independence, p. 40. Bottomley and Wilson both suggested in their memoirs that it was during the Bottomley-Gardiner visit to Rhodesia in February 1965 that the Five Principles were first formally stated. Bottomley, Commonwealth, Comrades and Friends, p.

145; and Wilson, The Labour Government, p. 143. There is, however, no mention of the Five Principles in the official report of the visit, TNA: PRO, FO 371/181877, ‘Rhodesia: Visit by the Secretary of State and the Lord Chancellor’.

(iv) There would have to be progress towards ending racial discrimination.

(v) The British Government would need to be satisfied that any basis proposed for

–  –  –

In theoretical terms it may be argued that these principles were helpful because they provided a means to facilitate the incremental process by which polarised parties narrow their differences in negotiations. 91 On the other hand, Martin Le Quesne, reflecting on the end of his four-year term as Head of the Foreign Office West and Central Africa Department in 1968, suggested that in practice these principles had operated as more of a constraint. Le Quesne acknowledged that the articulation of the principles had been necessary to clarify British thinking, but thought that making them public was a mistake because it diverted Anglo-Rhodesian negotiations into a ‘sterile channel’, in which a political settlement could only be achieved if it conformed in every respect with the principles. 92 In a recent study John Young concurred with Le Quesne’s contemporary assessment, arguing that the principles ‘tied Britain’s hands in future talks and in a sense made agreement less likely, because they went beyond what the Rhodesia Front would accept.’ 93 In another recent analysis, which is sympathetic to the Rhodesian Front, Richard Wood has gone so far as to suggest that the principles not only impeded any In January 1966 Wilson added a sixth principle: that regardless of race, there should be no oppression of the majority by the minority or of the minority by the majority. Good, UDI, p. 123; Windrich, Britain and the Politics of Rhodesian Independence, p. 78; Young, Rhodesia and Independence, pp. 228 and 378.

Barston, Modern Diplomacy, p. 82.

TNA: PRO, FCO 25/27, ‘Sub-Saharan Africa: retrospect and prospects’, Memorandum by C. M. Le Quesne, 27 June 1968, para. 10, in Ashton and Louis (eds.), BDEEP Series A, Vol. 5,Part II, pp. 390-91.

John Young, The Labour Governments 1964-70 Volume 2: International Policy (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003), p. 171.

solution short of majority rule but also resulted in ‘the return of Robert Mugabe in 1980 and all the consequences which flowed.’ 94 This is excessively reductionist, but it does demonstrate that there has been consistent criticism of the Five Principles since they were first formulated up to the present day.

The British Government was anxious to avoid a situation in which Smith could turn the Rhodesian general election into a referendum on the principles, and Johnston therefore did not reveal them to Smith until 27 May. 95 Smith apparently ‘gave no immediate reaction either favourable or unfavourable’ to the British High Commissioner. 96 In the meantime, two related developments appeared to suggest that the Rhodesian Government

–  –  –

published a White Paper entitled ‘Economic Aspects of a Declaration of Independence’, which suggested that the economic consequences of a UDI would not be as serious as the British Government had warned in its statement of October 1964. In particular, it claimed that Rhodesia’s exports of tobacco could be marketed in countries other than Britain (which was Rhodesia’s biggest customer), and that Rhodesia would be able to secure investment from friendly countries. The White Paper alarmed some Europeans in Rhodesia. The Rhodesia Herald dismissed it as ‘an insult to the electorate’, and the Wood, ‘So far and no further!’, p. 298.

TNA: PRO, CAB 130/226, Minutes of Cabinet Sub-Committee Meeting, 26 April 1965; and ‘The Rhodesian Issue: Future Tactics’, Memorandum by Cledwyn Hughes, Minister of State, CRO, 23 April 1965; also Wood, ‘So far and no further!’, pp. 298-316.

Archives New Zealand/Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga, Wellington Office [hereafter ANZ]: ABHS 950, W4627, 245/8/3, Part 12, M. J. C. Templeton, Counsellor, New Zealand High Commission, London, to Secretary of External Affairs, Wellington, 2 June 1965; and National Archives of Canada, Ottawa [hereafter NAC]: MG 31-E47, Vol. 66, ‘Rhodesia’, Confidential Memorandum, 7 June 1965, p. 4 Institute of Directors published their own assessment, prepared the previous November,

–  –  –

statement to the House of Commons on 29 April, Harold Wilson explained that although his Government did not seek to influence the Rhodesian electorate, he must reiterate his previous warning that a UDI would have a disastrous effect upon the Rhodesian economy and would damage its relations with the Commonwealth. 98 Thereafter, criticism of the White Paper by Rhodesian commercial and industrial interests became even more vocal, though this apparently had little effect on the Rhodesian Government. Even the Leader of the Opposition, David Butler, said: ‘It is wrong for Britain to go on threatening Rhodesia without putting forward an alternative for settling our future.’ 99 The second development that pointed towards a possible UDI was the Rhodesian Front’s overwhelming electoral victory. It won all fifty of the ‘A’ Roll seats, and in the 28 contested constituencies the Rhodesian Front polled 28,165 votes to the Rhodesia Party’s 6,377. The Opposition consisted of ten Africans of the new, United Peoples’ Party elected on the ‘B’ Roll, four African independents and one white (Dr Ahrn Palley). The election totally destroyed the Rhodesia Party and thereby eradicated the remaining political influence of the old liberal establishment in Rhodesia. 100 Alan Megahey has observed that the election also contributed to the isolation of another moderating Windrich, Britain and the Politics of Rhodesian Independence, pp. 35-36; Wood, ‘So far and no further!’, p. 302; Young, Rhodesia and Independence, pp. 196-99.

Windrich, Britain and the Politics of Rhodesian Independence, p. 36; Wood, ‘So far and no further!’, p.

304; Young, Rhodesia and Independence, p. 200.

Wood, ‘So far and no further!’, p. 307; Young, Rhodesia and Independence, p. 200.

Windrich, Britain and the Politics of Rhodesian Independence, p. 37; Wood, ‘So far and no further!’, p.

311; Young, Rhodesia and Independence, p. 203.

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