A Guide to the Contemporary Commonwealth by W. McIntyre

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By W. McIntyre

This lucid advisor meets the necessity, so frequently expressed within the Nineteen Nineties, for an up to date evaluate of the modern Commonwealth. It has a succinct part on its ancient history and provides extra recognition than any earlier works to symbols and to the 'People's Commonwealth' of voluntary companies, activities and company. It highlights severe questions of stability that experience emerged among the relative roles of governments and reliable enterprises, voluntary institutions, and personal enterprise.

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The high point of Mrs Thatcher’s defiance came at Kuala Lumpur in 1989, when, after approving a declaration on South Africa which included specific reser- 42 A Guide to the Contemporary Commonwealth vations of the British position, she permitted her delegation to release only an hour later a paper explaining the British position. For several days she was vilified with varying degrees of abuse, from Robert Mugabe’s ‘despicable, unacceptable’, to Lynden Pindling’s ‘it’s not cricket’. 10 Already, however, the thaw had begun in South Africa.

A seminar organised jointly by the CRO and the Ditchley Foundation in 1963 concluded that the Commonwealth was worth saving and that practical measures for assisting development in the new and poorer members should be attempted. By 1964 the total membership had reached 18 and some of the new members were, in the view of Sir Alec Douglas-Home (now the prime minister), ‘not the easiest of associates’. 7 He suggested to the ‘old’ members (Australia, 24 A Guide to the Contemporary Commonwealth Canada and New Zealand) that a package of practical measures might convince the new members of the tangible advantages of membership.

The key point in understanding these issues is that Southern Rhodesia (later Zimbabwe) had, in fact, never been ruled from London like the other colonies. 4 First settled by a chartered company, the Rhodesian colonists conquered the rulers of the African-majority peoples – the Ndebele and Shona – in the 1890s, and enjoyed, from the start, a measure of self-government. When the company charter expired, many expected Rhodesia to join the Union of South Africa. In 1922, however, the tiny white electorate opted for responsible government as a separate colony.

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