Category: Immigration and Politics
That an entire chapter is being devoted to a single Act of Parliament - the Commonwealth Immigrants Act of 1962 (CIA62) - should not be cause for alarm. Although between fifteen and twenty more immigration-related Acts were given effect between 1963 and the present (depending upon how one defines such Acts), only the CIA62 is being singled out for this special treatment. It merits particularly close inspection on at least three separate grounds. First, it was the first legislation to interfere with the long-held tradition that subjects of the Crown (since 1948: British subjects) enjoyed free entry to and right of abode in Britain. Second, the CIA62 created the template and framework for all subsequent legislation of its type, and third, as an instrument of control the Act is fatally flawed. Most of the subsequent failure of successive Governments to get to grips with the immigration problem since that time can be attributed to the legacy bequeathed by the lawmakers who gave us CIA62.
The 1950s and early 1960s together form perhaps the single most important period to consider when contemplating post-war immigration politics, and its corollary, the emergence of multiracial Britain. During this period many of the tropes that would later come to define (and confine) political and public debate first came to the fore. It was also the high tide of ‘post-colonial’ migration, in which liberal democracies would be inundated by coloured citizens of their former empires, an inundation that was largely unwanted and unplanned. The underlying question is: why did it happen, and why was it allowed to continue unabated for so long?
In Britain a Conservative government was in again place by October 1951, a development which should have given cause for optimism to those for whom preservation of a racially-homogenous population was a priority. The prior period under Labour, from 1945 to 1951, had been characterised politically by official unease in the background and dismissive optimism in public. Now that Churchill was back in charge things would be different, there’d be an end to Labour-style wishy-washiness and the Government would finally get to grips with the problem before it became too late. Right?
But it didn’t turn out that way, and Andrew Roberts poses the necessary question in these terms:
The record shows that Churchill, for a variety of reasons, took no effective action to staunch the flow, nor did his successor Eden and neither did his successor, Macmillan, at least until very late in the day. Part 2 of this series attempts to answer Roberts’ question and, in the process, determine who else, besides the Conservative prime minsters of the day, is to be held responsible for the unfolding disaster.
Preamble and Introduction
Intended as a companion piece to the series on the introduction and pervasive influence of anti-discrimination and ‘equalities’ legislation in the UK The Crusade Against Discrimination this present offering will attempt to set out, in accessible and non-academic form, the political aspects of the post-war immigration into Britain. Accordingly little if any mention will be made of the immigration experience of the white settler countries, including the USA, nor that of continental Europe, although there is a great lacuna in terms of accessible, comprehensive and non-partisan literature regarding the latter. Perhaps a future project beckons. This one will focus entirely on Britain, and in particular its politics of immigration. Social, cultural and economic consequences are, for the most part, passed over except where, as in the case of the Notting Hill race riots, they can be shown to have directly influenced policy making.
The focus here is on the political actors, who did what, when and why; why particular decisions were reached, and why they were not. Debate has raged here, as well as on other nationalist-oriented discussion forums, about the extent to which the demographic transformation that is now underway, and specifically the immigration disaster that is at the root of it, has been the consequence of external agency or whether it has been mostly or entirely self-inflicted. I hope that some light will be shed on that question and that myth can be more readily separated from reality.
The piece will comprise several parts, each quite long and likely to appear at erratic and irregular intervals. My goal is to complete the effort by early summer when I will be taking on a major new project which will necessarily have to take precedence over my jottings here. But, we’ll see.
Part 1: Labour, Nationality and Windrush
Part 2: The Tory Indian Summer
Part 3: The Shape of Things to Come
As mentioned above, this is not intended for an academic audience, so I will be dispensing with the use of footnotes and in-line references will be sparse. In addition to the works listed in the bibliography below I have tried, wherever possible, to consult primary sources such as Cabinet minutes and memoranda, Hansard and other official documents which are available for public access in the National Archives (formerly Public Records Office, PRO). As a general point, if anyone wishes to verify the source for any particular statement or citation in the article I will be happy to provide it.
Alderman, G., Modern British Jewry, (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1998)
White Genocide Project
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