‘Not Britain’s Cause Alone’: The Commonwealth, Britain, and the Falklands Crisis, 1982–1989


  • John Bagnall Newcastle University




The British Government was plunged into crisis on the 2 April 1982 after Argentina launched an invasion of the Falkland Islands. The sovereignty of the islands had long been disputed as an issue of decolonisation and the Argentine seizure of the land forced the question to be addressed by the international political community. One of the most noteworthy aspects of the ensuing dispute was the ardent support the Commonwealth nations offered to Britain in the face of this aggression, earning the gratitude of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Many expected the Commonwealth to condemn the British use of force to settle the dispute given their previous colonial status. On the contrary, however, many were quick to show their disdain for the Argentine actions and offered practical support to the UK government in their attempts to recover the islands. This paper exploits newly released material available through the National Archives to examine the nature of this support and its effect on the Falklands Crisis throughout the Thatcher Premiership. The thirty year anniversary of the conflict in 2012 combined with the adoption of the new Public Records Act (2013) has led to a large amount of source material becoming available that had previously been unavailable for public viewing. The study evaluates both the practical reasons for the support as well as the importance of personal relationships between government ministers to uncover a new aspect of this important period in contemporary British history.

Author Biography

John Bagnall, Newcastle University

John is currently a PhD candidate at Newcastle University, England, researching international responses to Britain and the Falklands Crisis, 1982–1989. John has wider research interests in post-war British political and military history with a particular focus on how changing international opinion of Britain has contributed to developing security threats facing the British government. John also retains a strong interest in analysing how historical trends can be applied to contemporary political thought.

British Graves located near the Ajax Bay Field Hospital, Falkland Islands. 1982. Photo Courtesy of Ken Griffiths.