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The experience of immigrants coming to Britain between the
1940's and 1970's has been an uncomfortable and difficult one...
Immigration became a main part of Great Britain from the 1940's up to the
1970's. People came from all over the world seeking a better life, and so lots
of people decided to settle in Great Britain. Although people in foreign
countries were encouraged to migrate to the UK, the life that awaited them
was not necessarily a good one.
In 1948, the first immigrants from the Caribbean set sail across the Atlantic on
the SS Empire Windrush. This event is understood to have laid the foundations
for the multicultural society that we live in today. The reason for the West
Indians to travel to Britain was the fact that post war Britain had extremely
low unemployment levels and the chances of getting well paid work were very
high. Britain had been badly damaged by the war and people were needed to
fill the job spaces that men who died in the war had left. There were also
people needed to help do jobs that entailed clearing up the physical mess that
the war had left across Britain. And so, West Indians decided to travel to
Britain, and the SS Empire Windrush set sail in 1948 with over 500 willing
workers on board. In the same year, the British Nationality Act was introduced.
This meant that people who lived in the British present and past Colonies (such
as Hong Kong and India), were given British citizenship and could enter Britain
for as long as they wanted. Up to this moment in time, there seemed to be
little problems surrounding immigration, but as the seasons started to change,
so did the mind-set of the British people.
This is an image of the SS
Empire Windrush, which was the
ship that carried 500 West
Indian people to Britain, in the
search for a new life. The ship
stopped sailing in 1954 after an
engine fire. The ship eventually
sunk in March 1954.
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As the years passed, the amount of immigrants in Britain increased. In the late
1950's, British people started to express their views towards immigration. The
strong economic growth had started to falter and jobs were becoming scarcer.
British people felt that immigrants were to blame for the low amounts of jobs.
Quite suddenly, violence started to erupt around the country in protest to
immigration. The summer of 1958 was deemed the `Summer of Violence' as
violent incidents occurred around the UK.…read more
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Yet it was not just the public's views that were changing. A well respected and
influential politician called Enoch Powell did a speech in 1968 called the `Rivers
of Blood'. In his speech, he widely criticised immigration and was indirectly, yet
purposefully racist. He said that if immigration did not stop, then the streets
will be `Rivers of Blood'. His speech was frowned upon by the government and
he was sacked by the shadow cabinet.…read more