Thatcher's colonialism


The Black Rights Movement

The black rights movement began to emerge due to the high numbers of immigrnats that entered the country after the First World War.
Black and Asian people were facing discrimination from police, employers and landlords. Important battles were fought by these groups during the 1980s to establish rights for blakc and Asian people. The rise in this type of protest reflected a numbe rof factors:

  • Racist discrimination - particularly in housing, employment, education and within the police force.
  • Thatcher's belief in cultural uniformity and her emphasis on the need for black and Asian people to assimilate to British values and customs.
  • Thatcher's economic policies disadvantaged black and Asian people as they affected sectors of the economy in which immigrants tended to work. 
  • Thatcher's willingess to supoort police initiative that targeted young black people. 
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The New Cross Fire

18th January 1981 - a fire destroyed a house in New Cross Road, adn areas of southeast London
The fire hit during a party attended by young black teenagers - 13 people were killed
The local community calimed that the fire was a racist attack by the National Front
A public meeting was held, 1001 people atteneded and created the New Cross Massacre Action Committee.

Thatcher's government issued no response to the fire. But when there were deaths of white teenagers in Dublin a few weeks later, official letters of support were sent from the Queen, the parliament and government. 
The police had made no attempt to follow up reports of witnesses of arson.

Black People's Day of Action
The NCMAC, lead by Darcus Howe, organised the Black People's Day of Action.
2nd March 1981 - 20,000 people from across the country marched through Lodon, demanding justice for the dead. The government were forced to acknowledge what had happened.
Police were unable to stop the march form taking place. 

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Stop and Search

Swamp '81 was enforced shortly after the Black People's Day of Action. It was a large stop and search campaign focused on black people in London. This led to mass riots in Brixton.

The 1981 riots

There were rumours that a black teenager, Michael Bailey, had died in police custody. 300 black youths clashed with over 1,000 police officers. 
299 officers were injured and 70 members of the public. Over 100 cars had been destroyed and 28 houses/shops had been burnt down, 100 homes and shops were looted. 
Three months later - Riots broke out in deprived areas of Britain e.g Moss Side. Theree were also disturbances in Wolverhampton, Southampton, Leeds, Gloucester and Edinburgh, all due to racial tension and alleged police discrimination.

The Scarman Report
The report into the role of police in black communities found that:

  • Unnecessary use of stop and search against black and ethnic minority men
  • poverty, unemployment, poor housing and racial discrimination were the key factors in causing the riots
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Changing Attitudes

  • Britain was becoming increasingly multicultural
  • New Black and Asian MPs including Dianne Abbott, Kieth Vaz.
  • Channel 4 was created in 1982 with the responsiblity of created shows for minority groups. The Bangdung File and Desmond's starred predominantly black casts and were both written by leading blakc and Asian writers.
  • Acid House - saw black musicians and DJs from across the country leading a new cultural movement.
  • Stephen Lawrence - was murdered in 1993 and was immediately condemned by the media unlike the New Cross Massacre. The police mishandled the investigation which led to the Macpherson report which stated the met police was 'institutionally racist'. However, shows that Major's goverment was more likely to address racism than Thatcher's.
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