A recent BBC TV programme The Unwanted:The Secret Windrush Files presented by historian David Olusoga focussed on the impact of what has been termed ‘the hostile environment’ by the Home Office towards members of the Windrush generation. This policy threatened to deport people, mostly from the Caribbean, who arrived in the UK as children before 1973 without documentation, with the result that when challenged in recent years by immigration officials, they were unable to prove their right to remain in this country.
Unfortunately, the programme did not confine itself to examining this particular issue, but linked it to a denunciation of the political outlook of the early post war period, as expressed in internal government documents of the time. These revealed the fears of politicians and officials about the problems that Britain might face from large scale black immigration. After reading these official documents Olusoga concluded that the Windrush generation had been subject to what he termed ‘decades of official hostility towards black immigrants coming to Britain’. Olusoga condemned the attitudes of successive governments to black immigrants who came to Britain to work as ranging from ‘uncomfortable ambivalence to downright racism’. He concluded that Caribbean citizens were seen as a ‘black threat’ rather than as British citizens. So what did the official documents which aroused Olusoga’s ire so much actually say?
One top civil servant warned that ‘any scheme for the importation of coloured colonials for permanent settlement should not be embarked upon without the full understanding that this means that a coloured element will be brought in for permanent absorption into our own population’. He added ‘that the trade unions would be firmly opposed to such proposals and such measures would have to be introduced in the teeth of the most violent opposition from some trade unionists’.
Eleven Labour MPs wrote to prime minister Clement Attlee warning that ‘the country may become a reception centre for immigrants regardless of whether assimilation is possible or not. The British people fortunately enjoy a profound unity without uniformity in their way of life, and are blessed by the absence of a colour racial problem. An influx of coloured people domiciled here is likely to impair the harmony, strength and social life and to cause discord and unhappiness amongst all concerned. We venture to suggest that the British government should, by legislation if necessary, control immigration in the political, social, economic and fiscal interests of our people.’
Churchill was reported to have said that immigration was the most important issue facing the country and complained that he couldn’t get his ministers to take any notice. Concerns were expressed to him that ‘government had a respectable image to maintain that would be undermined if it put into law, on racist grounds, measures for excluding black people coming into the country’. Since it was not possible to publicly acknowledge to being racist, Ministers sought measures to stem the inflow of black immigration, without impeding white immigration and without appearing to discriminate on the basis of race. The Government’s eventual solution was to introduce legislation which allowed skilled workers, and those who had been offered a job to enter, but severely limit the number of unskilled immigrants who would be allowed in. This would facilitate the entry of mostly white skilled immigrants, but exclude the overwhelming number of black unskilled applicants, thus permitting a policy that was not ostensibly racially discriminatory, but would in practice have that outcome.
Olusoga is so steeped in the anti racist agenda of our times that he is incapable of understanding the fears which would have concerned British politicians in the early post war period. This was most articulately expressed by the Labour MPs who observed that the ‘British people fortunately enjoy a profound unity without uniformity in their way of life, and are blessed by the absence of a colour racial problem’. This is really the crux of the matter. What would Britain gain by allowing the large scale immigration of people of visibly different race and culture? The clear answer is that it would gain nothing but instead risk losing something precious, namely our homogeneous society, through the influx of vast numbers of people most of whom would be unlikely to ever be properly integrated into our society, or be accepted as one of themselves by the majority of the existing white population.
Olusoga in his arrogance derides and condemns these legitimate concerns while asserting the spurious belief that non white colonial citizens should automatically have been given the right to reside in Britain regardless of the deep concerns of the existing population. Thus he has been given a platform by the BBC to lecture the white population for their ‘political panic, bad faith and racial prejudice’ for voicing concerns which, in the wise observation of the Labour MPs, would ‘impair the harmony, strength and social life and cause discord and unhappiness amongst all concerned.’ As a consequence of hectoring TV programmes such as this, which play the race card in a selective and one-sided way, the black man has now clearly been handed the whip hand over the white man, just as Enoch Powell and his constituent foretold.