A critic of the Boer War
Leopold Amery was a journalist and a British Conservative Party politician with a particular interest in the British Empire. He was born in Gorakpur, India in 1873 and was educated at Harrow and Balliol College, Oxford. He became a correspondent for the Times and during the time he worked for The Times (1899-1909) was sent to South Africa to report on the Second Boer War. He criticised General Buller in numerous articles on the failure of the British army to break through the Boer lines at Colenso, the heavy defeats in December, 1899, and the subsequent failure to defeat the Boers. His articles helped to bring about the sacking of General Buller and his replacement with General Roberts. Amery was the main contributor as editor and contributor for The Times History of the South African War. He was subsequently asked to become editor of the Observer and the The Times but he turned down both offers to become a politician. He stood as a candidate in the 1908 election for Wolverhampton East but narrowly lost but in 1911 he was more successful, being elected as the MP for Birmingham South as a Liberal Unionist. He continued to represent this constituency until the 1945 election.
Drafted the Balfour Declaration
Amery served as an Intelligence Officer in the Balkans for two years before joining Lloyd George’s Cabinet Secretariat in 1916. He helped draft the Balfour Declaration in 1917 and after the war was First lord of the Admiralty in Bonar Law’s government. He became Colonial Secretary in 1924, retaining the post until 1929. He supported Imperial Preference, helped to establish the Empire Marketing Board and was responsible for organising the Imperial Conference of 1926. During World War Two he was Secretary of State for India and Burma and sought independence for the sub-continent within the Commonwealth. He was a great believer in imperial expansion but he did not believe in any more centralisation from London. He believed the future of the world lay in a form of ‘welfare imperialism’ and wanted a new political, economic and spiritual form of empire.