1940-1949 | Refusing refugees

22 JUNE

LABOUR MPS DEMAND RESTRICTIONS ON BLACK IMMIGRATION

HMS Empire Windrush -© IWM (FL 9448).

[ 22 June 1948 ]

Today in 1948, the passenger liner Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury, carrying 492 men and women from the West Indies looking to find a job; their hopes raised by the knowledge that Britain was facing a severe post war labour shortage. News of their arrival immediately provoked a racist backlash. The very same day, eleven Labour MPs sent a letter to Prime Minister Clement Attlee, demanding that he impose restrictions on black immigration. The letter claimed that ‘an influx of coloured people domiciled here is likely to impair the harmony, strength and cohesion of our people and social life and cause discord and unhappiness among all concerned. In our opinion colonial governments are responsible for the welfare of their people and Britain is giving these governments great financial assistance….   the British government should, like foreign countries, the dominions and even some of the colonies, by legislation if necessary, control immigration in the political, social, economic and fiscal interests of our people.’1

UK REVERSES POSITION ON GUANTANAMO, DESPITE HARMFUL IMPACT ON NATIONAL SECURITY

[ 22 June 2018 ]

An internal government memo dated 22 June 2018, leaked to The Daily Telegraph and marked ‘Official Sensitive,’ noted that UK ministers would not oppose the US government sending two British terror suspects, Alexanda Kotey and Shafee El-Sheikh, to Guantanamo,  although at the same time acknowledging that ‘GTMO is seen by many as acting as a recruiting sergeant for extremists intent on undermining Western values.’2

FOOTNOTES

  1. Cited in David Olusoga, Black and British: A Forgotten History, Pan Books, London 2017, p. 495.
  2. Ben Riley-Smith, “Javid tells US: We won’t block death penalty for Isil ‘”Beatles,”‘ The Daily Telegraph, 23 July 2018, p. 1 and p. 5.

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