Simon Commission

League Against Imperialism


The roots of the League Against Imperialism (LAI) lay in the Second Congress of the Communist International (Comintern) in July 1920, which considered the formulation of a colonial policy, and included a debate between Lenin and Manabendra Nath Roy, founder of India’s Communist Party. Some years of debate over the viability of an international union to fight imperialism followed. A joint meeting of the Workers’ International Relief and the Committee Against Atrocities in Syria in February 1926 resulted in the formation of a League Against Colonial Oppression, a precursor to the LAI.

In Brussels in 1927 the LAI was officially founded in the presence of key international political figures, including Jawaharlal Nehru, General Secretary of the Indian National Congress. Shapurji Saklatvala had attended the meeting in the House of Commons to decide on the British delegation, but was not himself present in Brussels, although his name was added to the minutes. Messages of support for the LAI were sent by Albert Einstein, Victor Margueritte and M. K. Gandhi. A Sino-Indian declaration of solidarity, drafted by Nehru, was signed at the congress. The League’s stated aim was to ‘deter imperialist governments from oppressing weak nations’.

Just two months after the Brussels Congress the Government of India banned LAI literature from entering India, but the All-India Congress Committee recommended in May 1927 that the Indian National Congress (INC) seek membership of the LAI, ratified in December 1927. Controversies over the exact political affiliation of the LAI continued for some years, and by 1931 many members had left or been expelled from the League. In April 1930, Nehru, stung by condemnation of the Delhi Manifesto by members of the LAI, directed Congress to cease all correspondence with the LAI; Nehru was expelled from the LAI the following year.

The LAI in Britain consistently exploited the Labour Party’s uncertain commitment to the anti-imperialist cause, offering a practical alternative to socialist rhetoric. Furthermore, the LAI claimed that economic troubles in England including rising unemployment were directly related to capitalist investment and involvement in Empire. The British Section of the LAI was held to be one of the most active, particularly in its India operations. These included streams of resolutions, petitions and articles as well as demonstrations and meetings. One such meeting in October 1928 in Limehouse Town Hall protested against the Labour Party’s participation in the Simon Commission, and was attended by Tarini Sinha, member of the Indian Office of the ILP, Sarojini Naidu and Maulana Mohammed Ali, members of the INC.

Ultimately, suspicions of the LAI’s Communist affiliation brought about its downfall, alongside the difficulties of aligning various nationalist movements with different forms of socialism. In December 1931 the LAI’s headquarters in Berlin were raided, and the League then moved to Paris for some months before settling in London. By the mid-1930s, however, the League was barely an international organization, membership had fallen in most countries, and the decision to cease activities was taken early in 1937.

Published works: 

Report of the National Conference of the League Against Imperialism, British Section, February 1931. (London: The League against Imperialism, 1931).


Report of the National Conference of the League Against Imperialism, British Section, February 1931 (London: The League against Imperialism, 1931), p. 13

Other names: 

Precursor: League Against Colonial Oppression
Original title: League Against Imperialism and For National Independence

Secondary works: 

Bush, Barbara, Imperialism, Race and Resistance: Africa and Britain, 1919-1945 (London and New York: Routledge, 1999)

Haithcox, John Patrick, Communism and Nationalism in India: M. N. Roy and Comintern Policy, 1920-39 (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1971)

Hargreaves, John D, ‘The Comintern and Anti-Colonialism: New Research Opportunities’, African Affairs 92.367 (Apr. 1993), (Oxford University Press on behalf of The Royal African Society), pp. 255-61.

Howe, Stephen, Anticolonialism in British Politics: The Left and the End of Empire, 1918-1964 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993)

Jones, Jean, The League Against Imperialism, Socialist History Society Occasional Pamphlet Series No. 4, (Preston: Lancashire Community Press, 1996)

Saville, John, ‘Reginald Bridgeman,’ in Joyce M. Bellamy and John Saville (eds.) Dictionary of Labour Biography, VII (London: 1984), pp. 40-50.


A snapshot of the attitudes and motivations of the British Section of the LAI. This extract is on contemporary interpretations of the movement towards independence in India

Date began: 
10 Feb 1927

In the discussion… a delegate from the Indian Freedom League said that Labour Party leaders in Britain had deserted the struggle against imperialism, but that in India Gandhi had created a psychology of revolt which will never die, even if Gandhi and the leaders of the Indian National Congress were to betray the struggle by compromise with the British Government. Other speakers showed that the great movement of mass revolt in India had arisen not because of Gandhi, but in spite of his policy and that Jawaharlal Nehru, who had said that Indian should not discuss conditions of self-government while British troops remained in India, was now supporting Gandhi in negotiations with the Viceroy. The Congress leaders had done nothing to establish the League in India, although this was proposed at Brussels in 1927.


Indian Delegation, 1927 Brussels Congress:

Virendranath Chattopadhyaya, J. Naidu (Association of Indians in Central Europe), A. C. N. Nambiar (Association of Indian Journalists), Jawaharlal Nehru (member of Executive Committee of LAI), Bakar Ali Mirza (Indian Oxford Union), Tarini Sinha (Indian Office of the ILP),

English Delegation, 1927 Brussels Congress (selected members):

Reginald Bridgeman, Shapurji Saklatvala (member of LAI)

LAI in Britain: Ben Bradley (secretary 1934-40), Bhabani Bhattacharya, Fenner Brockway (chairman, 1928), Clemens Palme Dutt (member of the executive committee of the British Section of the LAI)

Date ended: 
01 Jan 1937
Archive source: 

The International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam. Their main website,, gives a list of materials relating to the LAI

Precise date ended unknown: 

Simon Report

07 Jun 1930
Event location: 

London, Bombay, Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar, Delhi, Lucknow, Patna, Calcutta, Rangoon, Madras, Nagpur


The Indian Statutory Commission, commonly referred to as the Simon Commission after its chairman Sir John Allsebrook Simon, was sent to India in 1928 (February - March and October 1928 - April 1929) to study potential constitutional reform. In 1930, the Commission published its two-volume report, also known as the Simon Report.

The Simon Commission was dispatched to India in 1928 to review the the Government of India Act 1919. The Commission, appointed by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, did not include any Indian delegates. As a result, the Indian National Congress and a faction of the Muslim League, led by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, decided to boycott the Commission. Upon arrival in Bombay on 3 February 1928, the Commission was met by protests. In London, the London Branch of the Indian National Congress planned a demonstration upon the return of the Commission.

The Simon Report was met with disappointment and condemnation throughout India. The Indian National Congress mistrusted the findings of the Commission and the Congress boycotted the Report. Gandhi subsequently started the Civil Disobedience Movement. Mohammed Ali Jinnah made it clear that the report was unacceptable to Hindus, Muslims and Indian nationalists. The Muslims considered the Report to be reactionary; the executive Board of the All-India Muslim Conference called the Report 'unacceptable'. Prominent members of the Legislative Assembly of India such as Mian Mohammed Shah Nawaz, Gaya Prasad Singh, Dr. Ziauddin and M. R. Jayakar criticized it as well. Even the Viceroy, Lord Irwin, made it clear that the Report stood no chance of public acceptance in India.

In London, the Workers' Welfare League of India and the London Branch of the Indian National Congress organized a demonstration against the Commission. Some 200 demonstrators marched from Trafalgar Square to Victoria Station; many of the demonstrators were removed by the police. Shapurji Saklatvala, who led the demonstration, raised the issue in Parliament but was informed that the Home Secretary, Joynson Hicks, had sanctioned this police operation.

In the wake of the Report, a series of Round Table Conferences were set up from 1930 to 1932. The outcome of the Commission and the Conferences was the Government of India Act 1935. The Act ended the dyarchy and direct elections were introduced for the first time. Sind was separated from Bombay, Orissa was separated from Bihar and Burma was separated from India. Provincial assemblies were to include more elected Indian representatives, who could lead majorities and form governments. However, governors retained discretionary powers regarding summoning of legislatures, giving assent to bills and administering certain special regions.

Sir John Simon
People involved: 

Clement Attlee, Edward Cadogan, George Lane-Fox, Vernon Hartshorn, Donald Howard, Harry Levy-Lawson, Sir John Allsebrook Simon.

Annie Besant, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, M. R. Jayakar, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Mohammed Shah Nawaz, Jawaharlal Nehru, Motilal Nehru, Lala Rajpat Rai, Shapurji Saklatvala, Mian Gaya Prasad Singh, Dr. Ziauddin.

Published works: 

Documents Concerning the Origin and Purpose of the Indian Statutory Commission: Reprinted from a Statements Prepared for Presentation to Parliament, in Accordance with the Requirements of the 26th Section of the Government of India Act (5 and 6 Geo. V., chapter 61 (Worcester, MA; New York City: Carnegie Endownment for International Peace, Division of Intercourse and Education, 1930)

Indian Statutory Commission - Publications (1930)

Interim Report of the Indian Statutory Commission: Review of Growth of Education in British India (London: H. M. S. O., 1929)

Separation of Burma, Separation from Burma: Views of Burma's Future Through a British Report on the Constitutional Position of India, 1930 (Pekhon: Pekhon University Press, 2003)

Secondary works: 

Acharya, M. K., The Commission Boycott, or, Rights vs. Concessions: A Psychological Study (Madras: Sri Rama Press, 1928)

Ahmad, Waheed, 'Report of the Simon Commission: An Analysis of the Report and the Significance of Its Recommendations in the Constitutional Discussion Leading to the Enactment of the Government of India Act, 1935', Journal of the Research Society of Pakistan, 11 (1974)

Andrews, C. F., India and the Simon Report (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1930)

Arora, K. C., Indian Nationalist Movement in Britain, 1930-1949 (New Delhi: Inter-India Publications, 1992)

Bakshi, S. R., Simon Commission and Indian Nationalism (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 1977)

Banerji, Sir Albion Rajkumar and Menon, V. K. Krishna, The Report and the Conference: Being an Study of the Simon Report (1930)

Besant, Annie Wood, The Simon Report (London: India Bookshop, for the Commonwealth of India League, 1930)

Bose, Subhas Chandra, The Indian Struggle, 1920-1942 (Calcutta: Netaji Research Bureau; Delhi; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997)

Bridge, Carl, Holding India to the Empire: The British Conservative Party and the 1935 Constitution (New Delhi: Sterling Publishers, 1986)

British Indian Association (India), Statement on the Recommendation of the Indian Statutory Commission, by the Landholders of India (Calcutta, 1930)

Brock, R. W., The Simon Report on India: An Abridgement (London: Dent, 1930)

Cadogan, Edward Cecil George, The India We Saw (London: John Murray, 1933)

The Commission [i.e. The Simon Commssion on Indian Statutory Reform] and After. By a Liberal (Bombay: D. B. Tarapolevala, 1928)

(Constitutional Reform) Communal Decisions, Cmd. 4147 (1932)

Daily Mail (1917-35)

Dhawan, Thakur Datta, Memorandum Submitted to the Indian Statutory Commission on Reforms in the North West Frontier, Based on the Resolution Passed at a Special Meeting of the Provincial Hindu Conference at Peshawar, on 27th March 1928 (Peshawar, 1928)

Durkal, Jayendraray Bhagavanlal, Indian Education: Case for Indianization of Education, Religious Instruction, Therapeutic View of Education: Being the Statement (Part II) Submitted to the Education Committee, The Indian Statutory Commission (Jurat: J. B. Durkal, 1928)

Edwardes, Michael, The Last Years of British India (London: Cassell, 1963)

Gangulee, Nagendranath, Notes on Indian Constitutional Reform, Incorporating Memorandum Submitted to the Indian Statutory Commission (Calcutta, 1930)

Gopal, Sarvepalli, The Viceroyalty of Lord Irwin, 1926-1931 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957)

Government of India Acts, 1919 and 1935 

Husain, Azim, Fazl-i-Husain: A Political Biography (Bombay: Longmans, 1946)

India: The Commission and the Conference: A Reprint of Leading Articles from The Times on the Indian Question from the Return of the Statutory Commission from India to the Conclusion of the Round-Table Conference in London (London, 1931)

Indian Legislative Assembly Debates, 1921-35

Indian Round Table Conference, Proceedings, 1930-32

Joint Committee on Indian Constitutional Reform, Minutes of Evidence, 3 vols (London: 1934)

Joint Committee on Indian Constitutional Reform, Report (London: 1934)

Khaliquzzaman, Choudhry, Pathway to Pakistan (Lahore: Longmans, 1961)

Memoranda Submitted by the Government of India to the Indian Statutory Commission, Pts 6-7 (Rangoon, Burma: Superintendent, Govt. Print and Stationary, 1928)

Moghe, Krishnaji Balvant, The Indian States in Their Relations with the British Paramount Power and the Government of British India: The Butler Committee and the Statutory Commission on Indian Reforms (Bombay, 1928)

Nehru, Jawaharlal, An Autobiography: With Musings on Recent Events in India (London: John Lane, 1936)

Parliamentary Debates, 1917-35

Proposals for Indian Constitutional Reform, Cmd. 4268 (1933)

Ratcliffe, Samuel Kerkham, What the Simon Report Means (London: New Statesman, 1930)

Saklatvala, Sehri, The Fifth Commandment: A Biography of Shapurji Saklatvala (Salford: Miranda Press, 1991)

Setalvad, Chimanlal, Recollections & Reflections: An Autobiography (Bombay: Padma Publications, 1946)

Simon, Sir John Allsebrook, India and the Simon Report: A Talk (New York: Coward-MacCann, 1930)

Simon, Sir John Allsebrook, Retrospect: The Memoirs of Viscount Simon (London: Hutchinson, 1952)

Sitaramayya, B. Pattabhi, The History of The Indian National Congress, 1885-1935 (Madras, 1935)

Sivasvami Aiyar, Sir Paramanheri Sundaram, The Simon Commission Report Examined (1930)

Templewood, Samuel John Gurney Hoare, Nine Troubled Years (London: Collins, 1954)

Times (1917-1935)

Times of India, 20 June (1930)

Times of India, 25 June (1930)

Times of India, 26 June (1930)

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto, 2001)

Wood, Edward Frederick Lindley (Earl of Halifax), Fulness of Days (London: Collins, 1957)

Wrench, Guy Theodore, In Defence of the Agrarian: A Criticism of the Simon Commission's Report and an Alternative Policy (Cawnpore: Country League, 1930)

Zetland, Lawrence John Lumley Dundas, Marquis of Zetland, 1876-1961, 'Essayez': The Memoirs of Lawrence, Second Marquess of Zetland (London: John Murray, 1956)

Archive source: 

Mss Eur C 152, Holifax Collection, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Mss Eur E 240, Templewood Collection, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Liaquat Ali Khan


Muhammad Liaquat Ali Khan was born on 1 October 1895 to father Nawab Rustam Ali Khan and mother Mahmuda Begum of Rajour in Karnal, Punjab. In 1910, he enrolled in the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh, then went on to college, from which he graduated in 1918. Shortly thereafter he returned to Karnal to marry his cousin Jehangira Begum, with whom he had a son, Wilayat, in 1919. Later in September 1919, he sailed for England where he enrolled at St. Catherine's College, Oxford, in January 1920. 

It was in Oxford he started taking an interest in politics, and he participated in the Oxford Union and debated with the Oxford Majlis, of which he was elected treasurer. It was also in Oxford that he came into contact with other people who were to play a role in Indian politics: Shoaib Qureshi, M. C. Chagla and Abdur Rehman Siddiqui, and the future historian brothers, Muhammad Habib and Muhammad Mujib. Other acquaintances included P. N. Sapru, the son of Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, and K. P. S. Menon. He moved to Exeter College, Oxford, from where he attained a BA degree in Jurisprudence in June 1921, before he went to London to the Inner Temple and was called to the Bar in January 1922. He then toured several countries on the European continent before returning to India in late 1922.

Liaquat joined the All-India Muslim League in 1923. He was elected for the Legislative Council in 1926 and had a successful career in the next decade. In 1931, Liaquat became the Deputy President of the Legislative Council and gained more power. In 1933 in London, he testified before the Joint Statutory Commission which had come out of the Round Table Conferences. Liaquat had already met Mohammed Ali Jinnah in 1924 but they were to become close friends and political allies in the 1930s. Jinnah had spoken at the Round Table Conference in London and settled there afterwards. When Liaquat visited in 1933, he urged Jinnah to return to India and lead the Muslims there. Jinnah returned in 1935 and asked Liaquat to become the General-Secretary of the Muslim League in April 1936. In 1941 Liaquat was elected to the Legislative Assembly of India. In 1946, Jinnah nominated Liaquat to be the first Indian Finance Member and after independence in 1947, Jinnah appointed Liaquat the first Prime Minister of Pakistan.

On 16 October 1951, Liaquat was scheduled to address the public in the city of Rawalpindi. He said one sentence before he was shot in the chest by Said Akbar. His last words are said to have been: 'May God protect Pakistan'.

Published works: 

United Provinces Legislative Council Proceedings, 37 (1928)

Pakistan: The Heart of Asia ([S. I.]: Harvard University Press, 1950)

(with M. Rafique Afzal) Speeches and Statements of Quaid-i-Millat Liaquat Ali Khan (1941-51)  (Lahore: Lahore Research Society of Pakistan, 1967)


Menon, K. P. S., 'Days at Oxford', in Ziauddin Ahmad (ed.) Quaid-i-Millat Liaquat Ali Khan: Leader and Statesman (Karachi: the Oriental Academy, 1970), pp. 102-4 at p. 104.

Date of birth: 
01 Oct 1895

K. P. S. Menon recounts his memories of Liaquat Ali Khan as a student at Oxford in the 1920s.


N. B. Bonarjee (at Oxford), M. C. Chagla, Muhammad Habib, Muhammad Ismail, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Sardar Amir Azam Khan, K. P. S. Menon, Muhammad Mujib, Shoaib Qureshi, P. N. Sapru, Abdur Rehman Siddiqui, Lord Wavell.


He was a man who seemed to have reserves of strength, who was content to bide his time. He would not play to the gallery, whether at the Oxford Union or the Indian Majlis. He did attend both regularly and took part in the debates occasionally, but he did not pose as a super-patriot or indulge in violent and meaningless talk. In his own quiet way he took part in the multifarious activites of the University; he enjoyed punting and was an accomplished tennis player. Above all, he was a good host, and I retain pleasant memories of his parties, where good conversation flowed as gently and freely as good wine.

Secondary works: 

Ahmad, Ziauddin (ed.), Quaid-i-Millat Liaquat Ali Khan: Leader and Statesman (Karachi: the Oriental Academy, 1970) 

Ahmad, Ziauddin, Shaheed-e-Millat Liaquat Ali Khan: Builder of Pakistan (Karachi: Royal Book Company, 1990)

Akhtar, Jamna Das, Political Conspiracies in Pakistan: Liaquat Ali's Murder to Ayub Khan's Exit (Delhi: Punjabi Pustak Bhandar, 1969)

Allana, G., 'Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan', in Our Freedom Fighters, 1562-1947: Twenty-One Great Lives (Karachi: Paradise Subscription Agency, 1969), pp. 281-94.

Amin, Shahid M., Pakistan's Foreign Policy: A Reappraisal (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000)

Chattopadhyay, Raghabendra, Indian National Congress and the Indian Bourgeoisie: Liaquat Ali Khan's Budget of 1947-48 (Calcutta: Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, 1986) 

Fazeel, Ali Ahmed, 'With Pakistan's First Prime Minister', Sun, Karachi, 16 October 1975

Jinnah, Mahomed Ali, Gandhi, Mahatma, and Rajagopalachari, C., Jinnah-Gandhi Talks, September, 1944: Text of Correspondence and Other Relevant Documents, foreword by Liaquat Ali Khan (Delhi: Central Office, All India Muslim League, 1944)

Kazmi, Muhammad Raza, Liaquat Ali Khan: His Life and Work (Karachi: Pakistan Study Centre, University of Karachi, 1997)

Khan, Liaquat Ali, Long, Roger D., and Wolpert, Stanley, 'Dear Mr Jinnah': Selected Correspondence and Speeches of Liaquat Ali Khan, 1937-1947 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004)

Kha, Sardar Amir Azam, 'Quaid-i-Millat', Pakistan Standard, Karachi, 16 October 1955 

Liaquat Ali Khan, Ra'ana, and Douglas, F. D., Challenge and Change: Speeches (Karachi: All Pakistan Women's Association, 1979)

Masroor, Mehr Nigar, Ra'ana Liaquat Ali Khan: A Biography (Karachi: All Pakistan Woman's Association, 1980)

Miles, Kay, Liaquat: The Man of Destiny (Karachi: All Pakistan Women's Association, c. 1953)

Omar, Kaleem, 'The American Press on Liaquat', The News, 22 October 2000

Pakistan, Pakistan Today: A Souvenir of the Visit to the United States of America of the Honourable Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, and Begum Liaquat Ali Khan, May, 1950 (Washington, D.C., 1950) .

Shushtari, Zayn Al-Abidin, Fath-ul-Mujahideen: A Treatise on the Rules and Regulations of Tipu Sultan's Army and His Principles of Strategy, with a foreword by Liaquat Ali Khan (Karachi: Urdu Academy Sind, 1950)

Archive source: 

National Archives of Pakistan, Islamabad

National Archives of India, Delhi

India Office Files, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Nawabzada Muhammad Liaquat Ali Khan

Liaqat Ali Khan


St Catherine's College Oxford, OX1 3UJ
United Kingdom
51° 45' 20.7288" N, 1° 14' 39.0624" W
Exeter College Oxford, OX1 3DP
United Kingdom
51° 45' 13.5612" N, 1° 15' 22.626" W
Date of death: 
16 Oct 1951
Location of death: 
Rawalpindi, Pakistan
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Sep 1919
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1919-22, 1933

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