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Britons relationship with its colonies through the Commonwealth?

Britain had created 'nation states' with British style legal systems and British values.
The commonwealth maintained political ties and influence.
Commonwealth conferences with Prime Ministers and Presidents took place at least once every two years
Major economic Commonwealth conference in 1952
All except one meeting took place in London - British dominance - only because it was in Lagos to coordinate policies towards Rhodesia
Provided a strong and wide range diplomatic network
Britains position on the UN security council can be seen as result of Empire and its world-wide connections
Commonwealth was not a military alliance but Britain continued to maintain a military with a 'global' reach and recruited citizens from Commonwealth nations - brigade of Gurkhas showed essence of Indian Army
Commonwealth Secretary General position established 1965 permitted the co-ordination of Commonwealth activities
Citizens of the Commonwealth remained eligible for British honours and listened avidly for the Christmas Day message (Est 1932)


Britain's economy

The City of London remained one of the world's major financial centres, with headquarters for banking, insurance and investment companies
Empire brought about conventions of international trade multi-national countries with branches all over the world
Britain emerged from Empire with a vast overseas portfolio and vast trading links
Britain made every effort to keep ex-colonies within the Sterling Area - informal empire


British emigration to Empire and Commonwealth?

The effects of the war, continued rationing until 1954 and the calls for Labour in Australia, Canada and New Zealand caused a surge in post-war emigration
1946-1957 1 million people left Britain for the Dominions


British contact with the Dominions?

Mass observation survey in 1948 stated that 25% of the population of Britain were in contact with relatives in the Dominions
Raised awareness of Empire
Money transfers between relatives overseas and those in Britain amounted to £12 million in 1959 - £1 billion in current values
Upper class British - civil servants, administrators and senior army officials - migrated to see the Empire first hand - mostly public schooled and had been prepared for imperial rule
Lower classes saw Empire mostly through National Service (1939-1960, ages 17-21, 18 months) and fighting in late colonial wars - Suez - Kenya - Malaya
Direct contact with Empire became rarer in 1960s as National Service was abolished and decolonisation sped up


Dominion emigration figures

Australia - 87.1 thousand to, 27.8 thousand from
Canada - 65.8 thousand to, 9.9 thousand from


Basic timeline of British immigration

1948 – British Nationality Act passed, all Empire and Commonwealth citizens given full British citizenship and right to abode due to Wartime contributions
June 1948 -
Empire Windrush lands in Tilbury, East London. Authorities sheltered the 492 mostly Jamaican passengers
1950s –
Significant immigration from the Caribbean
1956 – London Transport took on nearly 4000 employees – mostly from Barbados
Notting Hill Carnival – example of assimilation
1960s –
Significant immigration from India and Pakistan
1967 – Significant immigration from Kenya as Kenyatta pressurised Asian Kenyans to leave


Early Immigration policy?

After the British economy began to recover, there was plentiful work (due to war-time losses - almost 70,000 civilian lives) and well-paid work for the unskilled in factories
Government actively encouraged immigration to fill the workers gap
Successful recruitment drives - public transport and NHS - 1956 – London Transport took on nearly 4000 employees – mostly from Barbados


Commonwealth immigration?

1958 - 115,000 West Indians
1958 - 55,000 Indians and Pakistanis
Cypriots - 1959 25,000 - many fleeing civil war
In the three years between 1960 to 1962 more migrants arrived in Britain than in the whole of the twentieth century
Immigration ran at just over 50,000 per year 1962-65
1967 Britains black population was nearly 1 million


Rise of British anti-immigration

Post-war boom slackened and worries about dilution of British cultural and national identity
Commonwealth immigrants bore the brunt of job redundancies and had to live in the least desirable locations
Birmingham Immigration Control Association formed in 1960 – pressure group – these types of groups were popping up where migrants were most prominent 25,000 West Indians in Birmingham by 1958
Survey in 1962, 90% of the British population supported legislation to curb immigration and 80% agreed that there were too many immigrants in Britain already
Survey in North London in 1965 showed that 1 in 5 objected to working with black or Asian people and 50% said they would refuse to live next door to a coloured person and 9/10 did not approve of mixed marriages



Notting Hill Carnival
late 1950s social mixing of groups and steel drums becoming popular in pubs
1964 local festival setup by West Indian immigrants - West Indians showed off their traditions
In a survey in Nottingham in the early 1960s, Robert Davison found that 87% of the Jamaicans said they felt ‘British’ before they came to England and 86% were happy for their children to feel ‘English’.


Rise of public racism

Racist extremism – Alf Garnett’s Till Death Do Us Part from 1965 intended to satirise bigotry yet he became a popular figure for racist extremists
1958 – ‘Teddy Boy’ youths attacking black people and violent riots in Nottingham and Notting Hill, London
In East of London, violence rendered some areas ‘no-go’ areas as Bengalis were subject to violent racism – ‘paki-bashing’ became a trend
Issues of immigration were clear in the 1964 general election – in Smethwick, which had the highest concentration of immigrants (6000 out of 70,000 population) – Conservative Peter Griffiths won by using the slogan, ‘If you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Labour’
Although the new labour government headed by Harold Wilson, who stated that the slogan was a disgrace, the Labour government reduced the quota of vouchers and barred children over 16 from entering Britain as family members of already-existing immigrants
Of the 982 complaints made to the Race Relations Board (1965), 734 were dismissed due to lack of evidence and the Board could not compel witnesses to attend – weren’t taking racism seriously


1962 Commonwealth Immigrants Act

Free entry from Commonwealth countries ended unless a works voucher/permit could be obtained. It indirectly discriminated against black and Asian colonies, only 34,500 black applicants successfully gained entry after 12 months. The Irish were exempt from the scheme and White Dominions had the necessary skills to easily obtain a visa. It was popular however, with 70% approval ratings.


Failure of assimilation?

• The Islamic interdict on the consumption of alcohol kept Muslims out of local public houses and yet this was very often the centre of white British working class culture.
In a survey in Nottingham in the early 1960s, Robert Davison found that Only 2% of Indians felt ‘British’ before coming to England and only 6% wanted their children to feel English.


Governmental racism and anti-immigration

DecoIn 1954, to the Jamaican Governor, Winston Churchill said that Britain ‘would have a magpie society: that would never do’ – currently the Prime Minister
The Minister of Labour, Sire George Isaacs, told Parliament that he hoped ‘no encouragement will be given to other to follow their example’ when the Empire Windrush arrived with 500 Jamaican immigrants on 22nd June 1948
Even when a memorandum was circled by Cabinet which stressed that the British had no legal right to prevent these British citizens, due to the British Nationality Act 1948, from entering the United Kingdom it also stressed that it was not ‘encouraged’ and in fact ‘every possible step has been taken by the Colonial Office and by the Jamaican Government to discourage these influxes’


Decline of interest in Empire?

Britain was moving into decolonisation
Society becoming subject to Americanisation
More interest in Europe with charter flight holidays and political concerns about joining EEC
Empire Day abolished in 1962


Cultural ties

Empire left a British disappear of 10 millions Britons spread around the world, forming ex-patriot communities - maintained English traditions and contacts
The Union Jack was retained in the corner of many flags - Fiji, New Zealand, Australia
Anglican Church had more members in Africa than in Britain
Boy Scout movement maintained its ties across the former Empire
Sport - rugby, football, racket sports etc were all exported - firmly established in countries such as rugby in New Zealand and South Africa and cricket in India and Australia
Countries regularly remember their participation in Empire through the Commonwealth Games every four years (est. 1954, replacing Empire Games from 1930)
Empire languages transferred into English language - 'pyjamas' from India and 'mumbo-jumbo' from Africa
Royal honours continued imperial legacy - 'British Empire Medal' with the title 'of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire' coming after every honour - such as Knight/Dame Grand Cross
1954 - 'Last night of the proms' - Sir Malcolm Sargent established the tradition of using this for a rendering of patriotic British music - imperial spirit - 'Rule Britannia!' by Thomas Arne


Popular culture?

Demise of Empire saw an end to Imperialist topics in media
Boy's comic Eagle (1950-1969) - told its writers that foreigners could not be seen as the enemy or villains and at least 1/5 children must be from a minority
People no longer supported overly patriotic films due to struggles of Post-war Britain
Lawrence of Arabia (1962) - British First World War hero in the Middle East - torn between loyalty to Empire and Arabs - critical view of Empire
Guns at Batasi (1964) - About the internal divisions within colonies and the struggles of dealing with them
That Was the Week - satirical comedy programme from 1962-1963 - made fun of imperial traditions
Till Death Do Us Part - ridiculed immigrant communities
Lance Percival did the same with his record Maharajah of Brum