Britain – A Tolerant Nation?
My task is to present my judgment as to how far I think Britain has been a forbearing nation.
Before the task itself is conversed I necessitate myself to delineate some of the central themes from the question. I find the words ‘tolerant’ and ‘nation’ to be the most important words of the question. Therefore I should commence by writing the delineation of each word from the Oxford English Dictionary:-
Tolerant – 1. Acceptance of other people’s rights to their own opinions or actions. 2. Ability to endure something.
Nation – 1. People of one or more cultures or races organized as a single state.
As examined previously Britain still remains a Multi Society. Residing in such places dissimilar people endure different adversities, one of the prime factors being ‘Racism’.
The first thing that settlers had to do on arriving to Britain was to obtain lodgings; in spite of this a person must have been an occupant for five years before being entitled for council housing. New arrivals were consequently relying on private housing. Attacks with explosive devices during the war meant that there was a lack of houses as well as labour. This was the time when immigrants started facing the problem of the ‘colour bar’. Many white people would only lease their houses to white and criticise against the black, as there were no principles as yet to preserve the minority against racism.
As an outcome of the ‘colour bar’, immigrants had very microscopic choice, if any as to where they could live and how much rent they would have to pay.
Many people who came from the colonial states were skilled, however due to discrimination many ended up with inferior rank jobs than that which their qualifications empowered them to do. They ended up with generally the jobs that which the white did not want to perform. The ‘colour bar’ was to such a limit that even trade congress used mercantile arguments to attempt and stop ‘alien’ labour from coming into Britain.
In the 1950s and 1960s many Sikhs entered Birmingham in response to labour conscript. In 1960 the Birmingham City Transport administered a turban prohibition. To the Sikhs, the wearing of the turban has great devout importance, finding it troublesome to obey; the many Sikhs at Birmingham City Transport went on strike. Eventually there were prosperous in their going on strike and the turban ban was as a result raised.
Blacks living in lease accommodations were not authorised visitors and therefore they had to assemble on the street. Moreover, not all white people were extremists; it was these few white people’s acts of compassion that kept many blacks going when life in Britain was disheartening.
Some minority ethnic groups were more visual than others and consequently, as a result endured more cultural idiosyncrasy in contrast to those less evident ‘white’ minority tribal groups such as the Irish.
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The administration including many other white men responded to the dilemma of racism as if the problem was that of the ‘blacks,’ not condemning the white racist conduct. By 1961 the mercantile development in Britain gradual, Germany and France, on the other hand had regained and were now prosperously striving against the British. Many people made their minds up now to restraint or stop utterly the immigration of black people. In 1962 the Conservative party acted upon on this and passed a new law – The Immigration Act (1962). From now on blacks did not have the same refined rights as other people within Britain, its Colonial states and even from the Commonwealth countries. It was now to be the Law.
In 1968 the administration started to fear a large number of Kenyan pilgrims. These Kenyan immigrants were Asians of British citizenship. However the leader of Kenya conducted a new course which looked sure to dismiss these aliens. Racial anxiety in Britain inflated and a now immigration law was approved of in an alarm by the labour government. This Commonwealth Immigration Act of 1968 stated that,
“Kenyan Asians with British passports were no longer allowed to enter the country, however White Kenyans with British passports were allowed to enter the country.”
As a result of this law being passed many Kenyans felt deceived by their ‘Mother Country.’
In the general election of 1964 the Labour government stated that if it won it would omit the Immigration Act of 1962. The Conservative Party therefore made up its motto: -
“If you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Labour.”
As a result of this slogan the conservative government was fortunate in captivating disciples. However the Labour government was successful in the general election. On observing the accomplishment of the Conservative Party in restraining the immigrants, the Labour government too, instead of repealing the Immigration laws it started to make even stern laws on Immigration.
The National Front was set up in 1967; its objective was to win political power in order to conduct racist policies and laws, especially to end black immigrants and send other immigrants who had settled as British residents back to their country of source. In August 1977 the National Front declared that it would advance through Lewisham, which was a mainly black region. The police permitted these racists to march while capturing the anti-racists. Albeit this, anti-racists were successful and the racists overpowered.
I n 1965 the first Race Relations Act was passed, and in 1976 a second Act was passed.
The Immigration Act of 1971 made immigration by Black people from the Commonwealth into Britain even more arduous. The Act identified between partials and non-partials.
As a result of racism, an uproar broke out in Brixton known as the Brixton riots. Both Black and Whites collided in the streets of Brixton, houses, pubs, shops, cars; all were attacked and ruined. Petrol bombs and bricks were also launched at each other.
Long before 1981, the people of Brixton had a poor document with the police. The police were mainly White and were observed by the Blacks as totally racist. One major source of pressure was the ‘sus’ law. This law gave the right to policemen to seize even without any indication of transgression, but just for acting questionable at two separate events, be the two occasions even a minute apart. The law was widely mistreated. Black people battled against this law, and as a result the law was recalled in the 1970s. However this did not stop racial demeanour towards the Blacks. Black people still had a higher chance of being stopped, inspected and captured than white fellows.
In April 1981 a new police procedure was set-up known as the SWAMP ’81. Its aim was to stop and search as many people as feasible and as a result help in stopping crime. Under this new doing the police stopped 943 stops in Brixton alone, with only one person being detained for theft. This attendance of a large number of police, objecting often to the blacks inflated the strain of the blacks living in Brixton towards the whites.
The riots of 12981 were so prevalent that the Conservative government felt that action needs to be taken as quickly as possible in order to stop coming riots and ruin. The government therefore designated Lord Scarman to find out the reason of such a disorder. Scarman conversed with many people and came to the solution that: -
- The riot was not rooted by the conduct of the police.
- The police were not, on the whole, racist although there was ‘infrequent racial prejudice’.
- Black people in Brixton tolerated racial discrimination and rising unemployment and those reasons also provoked the riot.
Scarman also said that positive action needed to be taken to obstruct racism.
In April 1993 a customary black teenager, named Stephen Lawrence, was fiercely assassinated on the street by whites. William Macpherson set up an official inquest into Stephens’s murder. His findings were that police were ‘institutionally racist’. The Macpherson findings terminated that Stephens’s parents were violated, offended and were not kept well versed. The police were also unsuccessful in interviewing suspects. Members of the public with facts were mistreated, and some police officers also used racist language with the populace.
The report implied that police should give executives anti-racist instructions. It also endorsed that the laws against racism should be rectified and strengthened. As a result the Race Relations Amendment Act was passed. This Act made associations legally responsible of themselves for being anti-racist.
An additional problem faced by Britain was the refugees and the asylum seekers. The Asylum Acts were passed in 1993, 1996 and 1999. These Acts no longer gave right to asylum seekers to gain benefit, they no longer could work. Instead they must depend on charity. Instead of benefits, adult asylum seekers obtained vouchers worth £36, from which only £10 could be modified into cash. These vouchers could also only be utilised in certain stores. These vouchers pointed out the distinction between asylum seekers and others on benefit.
Asylum seekers could also be sent to detention centres and prisons on landing, and those who rapture them without adapted travel information could also be fined. Because it has become hard for asylum seekers to enter Britain, many flagitious have turned to ‘trafficking’, which is the bootlegging of illegal immigrants across boundaries into Europe.
However the treatment of refugees in Britain has been very debatable. Some say Britain was a ‘soft touch’ for refugees and others say that it was racist, prejudiced, and intolerant. Words such as ‘scroungers’, ‘beggars’ and ‘crooks’ have been used to describe such refugees.
So, in conclusion, Britain has faced many problems, I will further discuss a few of the main problems faced by the nation.
From the attempts to expel Jewish communities, to current stringent laws regarding migrants and asylum seekers, racism has been a significant aspect of responses to settlers from abroad. In the 1950s it was common to see signs in houses with rooms to let, stating, “no blacks, no Irish, no children, no dogs”. Stronger sentiments were given voice by groups from far right and fascist organizations. In the 1960s as well as utterances of ‘love and peace’, there were speeches estimating racial discord and riots from politicians and anti-immigrant pressure groups. These pronouncements were not restricted to extremist political organisations but also emerged in various degrees from the established political parties. The Race Relations Act (1966) enabled the prosecution of those who incite racial hatred in public places. The Race Relations Board (now Commission for Racial Equality) was established at this time in order to liaise and conciliate between communities and to ‘promote integration’. Although the effectiveness of such bodies has been questioned and their lack of powers criticized, this authorised organisation has at least been able to pursue cases of racial discrimination in housing, employment and against the police. Alongside restrictive immigration laws, legislation making discrimination illegal was passed and, during the 1970s and 1980s, a number of anti-racist campaigns were initiated. These involved musicians and artists, local government authorities, trade unionists, students and schools. Discrimination still exists and occurs in the job market, in the allocation of housing, through legal processes and in policing. More recently, there has been a rise in racially motivated attacks against black people, and synagogues and temples have been desecrated.
Settlers from the Caribbean islands, Asia Northern Ireland and Africa were invited to come to Britain to work and help rebuild the economy through their work in the National Health Service, public transport bodies and the manufacturing and constructing industries.
Most went to urban areas, where there were the most job opportunities. However, some long-established African Caribbean communities have their origins in those cities’ significance as major maritime posts, and pre-date-post-war black immigration. During the late 1950s and into the 1970s, ‘immigrant’ meant ‘black person,’ through the majority of people entering Britain to settle here were white.
In the 1960s, there was a series of laws directly concerned with the status of those who wished to become resident in Britain. With the advent of ‘Europe without frontiers’, some citizens from Britain with commonwealth ancestry find themselves having to apply for visas to move around the European Union, and face restrictions which British nationals do not.
We all have a natural predisposition towards our own culture or ‘tribe’ and are wary about others. It is abundantly clear that there is no taste for the kind of ‘positive discrimination’.
Indeed, as world-wide experience shows, these policies exacerbate race relations rather than improve them.
The truth is that race relations are best left free of the state’s heavy hand. Provided the majority and the ethnic minorities are not set against one another by clumsy attempts at social engineering, prejudices will eventually break down. This has borne out by the finding that most Britons, of all groups, would marry someone from another ethnic group and be happy for their children to do so. And also by finding that young people are more open-minded on the subject than their parents.
One reason is that we have not embraced the positive discrimination that fosters such strong majority resentment. Another is control of immigration – though official figures of those settling here from abroad certainly understate the situation.
In conclusion, I think that Britain is at this point a tolerant nation in one part but not tolerant in another. However, in the early days Britain was passing enough laws and therefore was not tolerant with the amount of problems there were facing with immigrants, all the laws which has been mentioned. However at the later stage Britain is still not tolerant in the area of racism, nevertheless, there are tolerant in giving refuge to a vast number of refugees. Britain has also been a tolerant nation in giving place for mixed marriages to take place.
However this approach has served the country well and should be continued.