Racism in Britain
Britain emerged from the Second World War with a labour shortage. In 1944 a Royal Commission was established to assess the population of Great Britain. The commission returned its findings in 1949 recommending that extra labour was needed. The "European Volunteer Workers Scheme" was introduced. Its aim was to entice workers from Europe to come to Britain. Between 1947 and 1948 17,000 workers came to Britain under the scheme. However the Irish were the largest ethnic group the time, followed by continental Europeans. Blacks only made up 5% of the 17,000 who came, although they were more conspicuous by the colour of their skin and also the language and cultural differences.
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The act was supposed to give blacks a legal basis to combat discrimination. The act had limited powers but it did reflect the growing concern in Government regarding racism among the public. Two further Race Relations Acts were passed in 1968 and 1976 which may have seemed to have been a progressive move by government to tackle racism until it is twisted into hypocrisy when we see that the Commonwealth Immigration Act of 1968 was brought in. The Act was a direct reaction to the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya. It aimed to keep the Black asylum seekers out of Britain, even those with British passports. In 1971 a Conservative government passed the Immigration Act whereby only a person with a parent or grandparent could enter Britain. Even today the Immigration and Asylum Act of 1999 under a Labour government has received criticism from the left wing press and the British Refugee Council for being too draconian. Under the act asylum seekers will not receive food or shelter if they do not make themselves known to immigration officials within 24 hours of their arrival in the UK. These older and more recent acts reflect increasing government stringency on immigration. Was this immigration policy a reflection by government of the views of those who had put them in power, the British pubic?
Throughout the 1950s there were numerous violent riots throughout the UK. There was also a