Racial controversy and reaction to govt. policies, 1958-79


Government attitudes towards racism

  • Both Conservative and Labour politicians wanted to win votes by creating policies that restricted immigration. Some politicians even appealed to voters by following popular racist views.
  • Some politicians did begin to advocate multi-culturalism.
  • The 1962 Commonwealth Immigration Act was supported by around 70% of the population,  The 1968 Commonwealth Immigration Act was supported by 72% and the 1971 Immigration Act was supported by 59% of the population. Shows widespread support of restrictions on non-white immigration.
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Consequences of the Acts

  • The 1962 Act's aim was to lessen the numbers of immigrants coming into the country, but it actually had the opposite effect. Large numbers of black and Asian people moved to Britain just before the Act came into force. The black and Asian population in Britain doubled between 1960-61.
  • Immigrants already in Britain who may have planned to leave were more inclined to stay due to fears that they wouldn't be able to re-enter the country. The 1962 Act also allowed immediate families to move to Britain, causing many families to migrate.
  • The Acts also lead to radicalisation of black rights groups. Neither the Labour or Conservative parties were interested in civil rights, causing many black radicals to reject mainstream politics in favour of 'Black Power'. 
  • The British Black Panther Party was founded in 1968 and in 1971, the Brixton Black Women's group was established. 
  • Darcus Howe founded the 'Race Today Collective' in 1974, who organised the Imperial Typewriter's strike. The strike forced predominantly white unions to support Asian workers. They also organised the biggest squat in British history, which fought for the housing rights of the Bengali population of Tower Hamlets.
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Consequences of the Race Relations Acts and white

  • Labour introduced three Race Relations Acts in the 60s and 70s to outlaw some aspects of racial discrimination e.g. the colour bar.
  • Enoch Powell's 'Rivers of Blood' speech adressed the 1968 Race Relations Act. The speech argued that black and Asian people now had more rights than white people in Britain, multi-culturalism leads to segregated society and violence and that black and Asian people should be paid by the govt. to re-emigrate.
  • According to a poll, 74% of people agreed with his ideas. March of 1,000 dock workers three days after the speech expressed support for Powell. 
  • Dispersal in some schools meant that Caribbean and Indian children were not allowed to make up over 30% of the classroom population, this was so they didn't form non-white subcultures. Relfects an ongoing desire for immigrants to assimilate to British cultures.
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