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'Welcome to Britain'

A look at Britain's immigration policies with regards to Commonwealth Citizens

Rashida Bibi

on 17 June 2014

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Transcript of 'Welcome to Britain'

My father came to Britain in 1965
Britain has been a multi-cultural nation for centuries, yet it has only recently become a
country- that it is it has only recently become the home of a significant minorty, who are
through the colour of their skin
The coloured 'immigrants' were constructed as being a charge on public funds, likely to be cause of 'social problems,' isolationist and a threat to the very fabric of British society, a threat to the 'British identity.' Bhaba links this 'knowing to the
centre of colonial discourse, 'the stereotype, which is its major discursive stratergy, is a form of knowledge and identification that vacillates between what is always 'in place', already known, and something that must be anxiously repeated...' (Bhaba, 1994, pg.66)
Homi Bhaba-
Welcome to

The problem for the Government was restricting 'coloured immigration' but doing so in a manner that would not affect 'white immigrants,'
Photo credits: 'horizon' by pierreyves @ flickr
The 1948 Commonwealth Act
On 22 June 1942, 492 Jamaicans arrived on the Empire Windrush, they are considered Britain's first mass migrants. Britain's labour shortage and subsequent recruitment drive was news that travelled to the West Indies. At the time of their arrival Jamaica's

unemployment rate was at 35%
making it

one of the poorest

West Indian nations.
'We are here, because you were there..'
By the time 'black and Asian migration began in greater numbers in the
1940s, 1950s and 1960s many of the
British had already constructed a sense of their identity
against which the 'other' would be compared (Ward, 2004)
The 1948 Nationality Act made citizens of all colonial and Commonwealth subjects, it was a desperate act by Labour ministers 'a means of securing Britain's role at the center of an empire/commonwealth and securing the continuing dependance of parts of that empire...' (Paul, 1997, pg.111)
Sound familiar?
The equality of Britain's 'subjects' was inherent to the racialised comprehension of its colonies,
British and European 'races' were structured as superior to African and Asian 'races.'
Therefore migration/movement between colonies was restricted by literacy checks, taxes and tight administrative controls on 'coloured' immigrants. (Spencer, 1984)
1962- further restrictions on those problematic 'coloured' folk
White Briton’s assumptions regarding minorities hinged on their prejudices gleaned from colonialist material, from the likes of William Blake and Kipling, black people were deemed heathens, cannibals, backward, mud-hut dwelling effeminate yet sexually predatory men and women.
More than
half of Britain's
population had yet to encounter the 'other' yet assumptions and prejudices were all too easily accepted.
Government in no way
sought to exclude the 'assimilable' labour entering from Ireland at twice or three times the rate of
those from the Carribean
A voucher scheme is introduced to restrict immigration
Those already in UK are forced to consider remaining permanently. Orignial intentions of migrants had always been to earn enough and return to their country of origin, Britain's continuous draconian measures meant immigrants were uncertain of ever being able to return if they left.
As ever the problem was not white prejudice but black skin, Asian skin, brown skin, skin that was not white…
It can be argued that first- generation Asian migrants struggled even more than their black counterparts, as Parekh notes,
‘he was denied a decent house and a job commensurate with his abilities…’
In Pakistan, my father one of the few of his village to have learned English had been a high ranking assistant to a police commissioner in Karachi. In Britain my father was relegated, like so many others to a graveyard shift in a spinning factory, pushed into a monotonous job with minimum pay.
Race Relations Acts
Britain's increasing restrictions on immigration were curiously interspersed with acts on race relations, seemingly to ensure equality of treatment.
But post-1945 British Nationality was deemed a
finite identity,
something that could only
restrictions of immigration.
Yet minorities were still finding it difficult to find jobs, decent housing and schools for their children.Minorities were denied equal pay, opportunity for promotion and rights.
The blame for this was levelled at minorities, Britain was a 'fair' society, it was up to the minorties to succeed, to intergrate and become active members of British society.
These first immigrants had been the products of, like many after them, an education steeped in colonialism. Britain was the 'mother country,' and for those in the colonies British identity was a matter of great importance, they were Englishmen.
Late 1960's and Idi Amin calls for the expulsion of Indian Asians from Uganda. The dilemma arises for British officials whilst still maintaining a semblance of

towards Kenyan Asians, a people Britain had originally displaced through

colonialist ventures into Africa.
But British identity, British values are finite, threatened by black and Asian faces. This leads to stricter control.
The 1971 Immigration Act

Discourses on 'partial' and 'non-partial' status, only those with partial status, that is connection to the UK by birth, descent or settlement are allowed to enter UK.

Only dependants of those migrants already in country are allowed to enter, my mother and three older brothers joined my father in Britain
Discourse- knowledge, power and language
Britain has begun to construct itself as a victim.
British values are under threat, Britain is being 'swamped' by the
other, as such its heritage, its essence, its traditions its 'whiteness' is under threat?
Websites like 'MigrationWatch' echo the
of Powell, claiming that Britain will be
awash with foreigners
as minorities
faster than the white man, have more children,
take up more resources
, push the
Briton out.
Analysis of government documents reveals that the migration of Commonwealth citizens was as Spencer(1997) succintly puts it, ' a migration which the British Government
did not welcome
at any stage ...'
A number of policies are key to understanding the attitude of Government and Britain towards people of former colonies
The CommonWealth Immigrants Act, 1962
Morever Britain regarded its colonial endeavours
as a
valuable mission
, Britain had brought
modern advancements and technology
to the natives,
now surely it was their impetus to
control the native
should he set foot in England?
As Chinua Achebe notes 'to the colonialist mind it was always of the upmost importance to be able to say: 'I know my natives,'
thus categorically stating that not only was the native simple to know, but that both understanding and controlling the native came together...
Immigration control = Power
Racist housing policies throughout prevented minorities from accessing
housing. Minorties were excluded from purchasing or renting property
in certain areas from authorities who were determined to keep a 'whites only'
agenda. Consequently minorties were forced to live in segregated areas, communities that then became dominated by a single race or ethnicity.

Now these areas are problematic, a sign that the minorties won't intergrate.
Discourses emerge, where the 'other' is a distinct threat
In the run up to her election win Thatcher declares that white British
were afraid 'that this country might be
swamped by people of a different culture...'
By 1980's immigration control is tightened still
amongst victory in the Falklands set against a strong imperial

The 1981 Nationality Act makes it possible to render people stateless,
under this act children in the UK born to non-British citizens, ie immigrants
do not become citizens automatically, they must qualify as British citizens,
even if they've been living in the UK all their lives.
Immigration is hot currency for any politician,
the same arguments are still rolled out.
'There are too many of them...'
'They won't intergrate..'
'They are using up resources...'
'Britain cannot cope...'

Myths over housing grow, the immigrants are causing the housing shortage
the fact is minorities were force to take on delapitated, run down, poorly maintained
houses becasue no one else, no one British wanted to live in them.
Homi Bhaba has noted this 'the colonised other,' is both
'cause and effect' of oppression. It is the 'colonised' fault, they will not
intergrate, they will not move into areas with a significant white population,
they are the problem.

Britain's race relation, race issues are the 'other's fault. Consider Cameron's recent
speech on the death and failure of multi-culturalism? Exactly who was Cameron targeting?
Said states, that the 'orient is almost entirely a European invention...' The immigrant, borne out of these assumptions, this constructed knowledge of the orient is also then a construction.
The immigrant has been placed as the other, the thing so uniquely differnmt, the binary of White Britain.
The same values cannot possibly be shared, because the immigrant is not white.
British government officials use the discourse of immigration to their own advantage,
playing on fears, politicians have the knowledge (officiality), language (documents, media) and
the language (notions of moral panic) to steer arguments on immigration.
Are the main parties taking on BNP policies?
Cameron 2011- 'good immigartion, not mass immigration...'
Our first house was a 2 bedroomed terrace. There was no hot water and the toilet was outside, the house had no central heating and in winter we would have one electric fire and stay in one bedroom
Throughout history Britain has sought to shut the door on migrants from African and Asian colonies. Ironic considering much of Britain's success, wealth and status rested on forcing the doors open in African/Asian countries and bleeding the nations dry.
Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain, 1984,Fryer, P.
British Immigration Policy since 1939: The making of Multi-Racial Britain, 1997, Spencer I.R.G

Race and Ethnicity in Modern Britain, 2000, Mason; D.

How Racism Came to Britain: IRR, 1981

Britishness Since 1870, 2004, Ward;P.

A Critical and Cultural theory Reader, 2nd ed. 2004, Easthope A. & McGowan, K. eds.
The Post-Colonial Studies Reader, 1994, Aschroft, B., Griffiths, G.,
Tiffin, H.,
Immigration control= Preserving white culture, presevering white
values, perserving white heritage, preserving white
traditions, preserving white history, preserving
white teachings, preserving whiteness
The Citizenship tests:
Have a go and see how you would measure up
But bear in mind the tests are not always right, in
2006 it was proven that questions on the test were
inaccurate, misquoted and genrally confusing
White Britons held on to their notions of imperial/
colonial superiority, '400 years of conquest and history, 4 centuries
of being told that you are superior to the fuzzy-wuzzies and the wogs
leaves their stain. This stain has steeped into every part of
the culture, the language and daily life.' (Salman Rushdie, 1991)
My father was one of those who took on
jobs local white people did not want, for lower
wages and facing discrimination my dad worked the
unpopular night shifts.
Segregation or concentration? I live in
a predominantly Asian area, I feel safe,
accepted and welcome.
Whitewashing Britain: Race and Citizenship in the Post-war era, 1997 Paul, K.
The Location of Culture, 1994, Bhaba, Homi, K.
John Townend 2001- 'our homogenous
Anglo-Saxon society has been seriously
undermined by the massive immigration-
particularly commonwealth immigration...'
Phil Woolas, the Immigration Minister at this point(!)
states that 'his own children have suffered because of the number
of foreigners who have flooded into Britain...'
Norman Tebbit's cricket test-
a way of enforcing Britishness over blackness.
Guess who that was aimed at?
(By the way, I support Australia in the World Cup, what
would Tebbit make of that?)
'In a ‘moral panic’ large parts of the state, the judiciary and the media combineto portray an uncontrollable situation in which an accumulation of representations promotes calls for severe and exceptional remedies. The rhetoric of ‘floods’ and ‘waves’ of immigrants is the signal for official endorsement of ‘tough’ action to stem developments that threaten to bring alarming consequences.' (ICAR, 2004, pg25)
Discourse- knowledge, power and language
ICAR (Information Centre about Asylum and Refugees) http://www.icar.org.uk/
Institue of Race Realtions-http://www.irr.org.uk/
Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1999, London, Penguin, 1991
Full transcript