The emergence of 'race' is framed as a problem - by people such as Sheila Patterson (her book = Dark Strangers) and Conservative politician Enoch Powell. Immigration to Britain didn't properly emerge (in such as large scale) until 1945Was Immigration a new problem for Britain? No, Britain had always witnessed immigration such as the Romans, the Vikings, the Normans, the Irish, the Jews. This was simply the latest instalment in a history of immigration. But now people were concerned with migrants taking British jobs (this was the main reason commonwealth citizens migrated, as a job shortage in the UK attracted workers) Immigrants soon became the focus of British fears and anxieties.
Acts - 1948 British Nationality Act
Key Acts = 1948 British Nationality Act - Allows anyone in the British empire to come to Britain if they wished. - was this change in attitude towards indigenous populations of the commonwealth due to the second world war? Did Britain want to keep these nations as strong political entities (despite India's recent independence). Also the men of the commonwealth served in the British army thus wouldn't seem right to refuse them entry to the mother country. (recognition of their war efforts) - natives played on this (that they fought in the war) = their justification. This act was in part a response to the immense contribution made by the colonies to Allied
victory in WW2 - e.g particularly the Indians, with 2.5 million men serving in the British armies in WW2, with over 30 thousand of these men killed and over 60 thousand wounded. However, the British government didn't think that so many people would act on this new legislation.What followed was mass migration to Britain in hope for a better life.
Empire Windrush 1948
First wave of immigration from the commonwealth. 1948 - Empire Windrush was a Jamaican Newspaper advertising for people to travel to Britain, largely for work. Some planned on returning back to Jamaica once conditions improved. The idea of London was idealised and greatly appealed to JamaicansThese new arrivals particularly settled in Nottinghill in West London.Gradual rise in immigration - approximately 20 000 people of the black population residing in Britain between 1950-1955. This figure increases to 500 000 by 1962 (figures are from Chris Waters Dark Strangers, p 209). These immigrants were filling the demand for labour as the economy was growing.
Immigration Push and Pull Factors
Scholars who discuss immigration refer to push and pull factors. Pull- Demand for labour in Britain. Shortage of workers after the tragedies of world war two. Also the 50s-70s mark an economic boom. - Despite the government being worried about a potential economic decline post-war, they aimed for full employment throughout the 50s and 60s- In fact there was positive economic growth, with GDP growing about 2% per year- With this boom there were lots of new work projects that needed labour e.g public health services, increases in public transport - The need to fill these job vacancies led to companies searching for cheap labour - this is where the immigrants came in. Companies would sometimes advertise the need for jobs overseas: for example, The British went tot Honduras advertising roles in the Scottish logging industries. 1200 Hondurans ended up working in these Scottish industries.
Push- Jamaica suffered from Hurricane Charlie, a major natural disaster. 150 dead and thousands left homeless Poverty in the home country - lots of job opportunities in the mother country
British Social Unrest from Immigration
The Nottinghill Riots of 1958 are a prime example of the social unrest and anxieties felt by the British populace The government needed to take action - leads to restrictions on immigration - the 1962 Commonwealth Immigrants Act. - 1968 Commonwealth Immigrants Act - again shutting British doors to immigration. This act was in direct response to the African political problems. (Kenya and Uganda tighten their own nationality rules and kick out the Asians living there - [who had previously been asked to come to fill labour positions] Very violent and oppressive means were being used, threatening Asians who did not leave immediately) - The Labour government were shutting their doors to the Ugandan Asians that were being forced out of their country. Yet the conservatives allowed 28 000 Ugandan Asians to enter the country as refugees.
BUT - also a reduction in discrimination?
Despite the two Commonwealth Immigration Acts seeking to reduce migrant numbers, other acts of the 1960s sought to reduce discrimination in Britain:- 1965 - Race Relations Act - attempts to remove/outlaw discrimination based on colour, race, ethnic/national origin in public places e.g pubs/hotels. (Shows that the State is starting to control discrimination on the grounds of race)- 1968 Race Relations Act - attempts to remove/outlaw discrimination based on colour, race, ethnic.national origin also in private employment, housing, credit and insurance.
The focus on London and race relations
London = the modern metropole. Viewed as a contemporary world city. With the Country of London plan, London was to be viewed as materially and morally ordered, with strong ideas of community. This idealistic view of London drew many migrants to Britain. Yet in reality London's history was more dysfunctional than coherent - demonstrated through heightened racism from the 50s onwards (with the arrival of migrants from India and Pakistan) New immigrant arrivals particularly settled in Notting hill in West London.- Ruth Glass notes that the migrants were not equally distributed throughout Britain, with most residing in London and Nottinghill. Yet though there were particular concentrations of migrant areas, British cities didn't have 'coloured quarters' like American cities.
London/Notting hill as a home
The Centre for Urban Studies 1964 report (which tried to understand and get to grips with the changing nature of London) found 'zones of transition' = squeezed pockets of poverty between the areas of wealth in the inner city - the only places that immigrants could afford. Often occupied by coloured newcomers, Indians and Asians, Europeans and prostitutes. Notting hill (being the prime example of a zone of transition) was frequently in the news and the media. Coverage of Notting hill explodes with the 1958 riots - racially motivated riots. Activists sought to 'keep Britain white'. Over 100 white youths were arrested during these violent attacks. Were the Notting hill riots a product of British oppression? Simply white youths defending their honour? Tensions amongst the whites may have also heightened in communities with white women engaging in relations with indigenous men - disapproved of by the whites?
Notting hill with a bad association
Whilst also being associated with housing the new migrant groups, Notting Hill was also viewed as a place of easy access to sex, drugs and certain foods - associations with immorality. However, were these stories from the 'white side'?Nottinghill was also part of large murder scandals in the 50s Kenneth Newman (commissioner for the metropolitan police in the 1980s) spoke of unemployed youths, often black youths, congregating in areas of Notting Hill where they would buy and sell drugs, stolen goods, drink illegally and play games. Limitations of our enquiries = Notting Hill is one of many sites of radicalised politics, yet most research is focused on this area, as well as London as a whole. It would be beneficial to focus/investigate other debates in other areas throughout the country. Even if legislations and politics changed improving conditions in Notting Hill, negative social ideas of this area would prevail.
Reports on radicalised problems and effects on the innercity are similar to earlier reports on the working classes and their effects on society - the immigrants are now seen as the lowest in society. Anthropology constantly stresses the cultural differences between the immigrants and the host - essentially in British 19th and 20th century history both immigrants and previously the working classes seen as culturally (rather than biologically, particularly in the case of the latter) inferior to their middle and upper classes. Race relations are more a social and cultural debate? E.g. Peral Jephcott A Troubled Area - Comments on how the migrants were living, and how their actions were perceived. Refreshingly Jephcott cuts through contemporary prejudice on immigrants, and instead focuses on economics as the 'problem', and the housing crisis. A vicious circle - the immigrant maintains an unskilled low-paid job thus lives in poor conditions, yet the white person disapproves of the uncleanliness of their living conditions therefore holds negative views of the immigrant. Jephcott argues that action must take place to improve: the state needs to be firm, ensuring standards of running water and rubbish disposal, and encouraging community help to improve the areas and get blacks and whites living together and helping each other = civic pride.
Enoch Powell - 'Rivers of Blood Speech'
Conservative minister for health for 15 monthsIn April 1968 he made a controversial speech in Birmingham criticising the commonwealth immigration and anti-discrimination legislation that had been introduced in recent years. This is commonly referred to as the 'rivers of blood speech' He suggested three conservative policies: to reduce further immigrant inflow, and promoting maximum outflow, encouraging re-emigration: assisting the migrants to return home, and that the immigrant should not be elevated or granted a superior position. Most controversial are his anecdotes, one of a man who reportedly believed that the black people were going to take over 'in this country in 15 and 20 years time the black man will have the whip over the white man' - suggests that white superiority is acceptable, but not the other way around.
Enoch Powell's 'Rivers of Blood Speech'
Enoch notes that the British find themselves strangers in their own country: unable to access hospital beds and school placements, and unwanted in work. Is he attempting to evoke large concerns and racisms amongst the British populace?'We must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50 000 dependents' Enoch argues that he is just voicing the concerns that every one are thinking/feeling. He notes that he received thousands of letters from people who were expressing the opinions he was putting forward.According to the Gallup Poll of May 1968, 74% agreed with Powell, 15% disagreed, and 11% didn't knowMy argument: Though not everyone agreed with Powell, he was expressing the concerns of others.
Reactions to 'Rivers of Blood'
Conservative Party leader Edward Heath immediately dismissed Enoch Powell - showing that the conservatives didn't want to be associated with such racism. Viewed Powell's extremist views with distaste. Media: The Daily Mirror (Monday April 22 1968) - very negative reaction to this speech. Refers to Powell's speech as 'monstrous'. Their article makes a very derogatory comparison/analogy between Powell and Hitler - signifies how bad this controversial speech was. The Daily Mirror congratulated Heath on the dismissal of PowellGallup Poll showed that 74% of the British populace agreed with Powell. By 1969 he became the most admired public figure in Britain (Stephen Brooke)