Candidate Number: 5250
Centre Number: 47102
This coursework is about how Britain came to be a multicultural, multilingual society. From an Anglo-Saxon community, Britain has become a land where, everyday, we meet people of different faiths, races, cultures and languages. We walk into churches and see black Africans worshipping, we see mosques, temples and synagogues aplenty, where in the early 1800s these common sights would not have been considered. So, how did this vast change overcome Britain?
Q1) With reference to the period 1880 to the present day, explain why people chose to migrate to Britain.
Populations’ resettlements are not new. People are driven to relocate between countries and regions for many reasons including work, study, harsh local conditions, persecution, discrimination, and even because of a pure sense of adventure. Many migrants move from poor countries to richer ones, this creates a balance or net-migration. Immigration has been proceeding for years, but one of the issues that hindered it in the past was transport from one place to another with so much to re-locate. With modern technology, however, this problem has been solved and governments who attempt to secure their citizens physically, economically and politically, now create the hindrances.
When investigating the reasons why people choose, and chose, to migrate, one must consider the push and pull factors. Push factors are matters that force individuals from a place. They include things such as difficult living conditions, government persecution, or discrimination. Pull factors are conditions that draw people to a new place. Pull factors include good economic forecast, family members and fellow compatriots who have migrated there which promises a smooth beginning in the new place.
From 1880 most of the migration to Britain was that of the Jews from Eastern Europe, mainly Russia. Many left to escape the persecution and find an enhanced living abroad. Jews in Russia were habitually the victims of savage attacks and laws passed by the Government made it difficult for Jews to earn an income there.
There was already a thriving community of Jews in Britain since the 1700s However, after 1880 the small Anglo-Jewish community expanded magnificently due to the number of Jews migrating from Russia.
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In 1881, the assassination of Tsar Alexander II of Russia deteriorated the lives of Russian Jews. Political tensions were very high, everyone was looking for scapegoats, and fingers were pointed towards the Jews. In 1890, the Russian laws against Jews were imposed with renewed force. (See Appendix 1).
Legal massacres of the Jews were organised by the government, these were known as pogroms. The worst of these took place at Kishinev in 1903 where over 500 people were injured, 49 were killed, 700 houses were destroyed leaving 2000 families homeless.
Britain attracted these Jews with its work opportunities and standard of life. Britain was a free country with equal rights for all. These ‘pull factors’ appealed to the oppressed Jews from Eastern Europe who were being used as scapegoats. They migrated for economic reasons, social reasons and due to political persecution.
There was reasonably little migration into Britain, other than from Ireland and Russia, until New Commonwealth immigration began in the 1950s. Legislation in the early 1970s was intended to reduce this to a trickle. In practice, it continued at the rate of half a million acceptances for settlement every decade.
Commonwealth immigration effectively began in the 1950s but the effect on total population was counterbalanced until 1983 by the emigration of British citizens.
Racial anxiety led to consecutively tighter restrictions on immigration, beginning in 1962. Controls on Commonwealth citizens were brought into line with those already applying to all foreigners. By 1971, it was believed that primary immigration had been brought to an end. However, in practice, there was only a modest reduction in Commonwealth immigration.
The New Commonwealth ethnic population (including children) was insignificant in 1950. In 1971, it was about 1 million. It is now about 4 million or 7% of the population of England and Wales. It will, at least for a period, grow rapidly because of natural increase and continuous immigration. Births to all mothers born outside the UK were 14% of the total in 1999. Government projections suggest that a further 1.5 million immigrants will arrive each decade from outside the EU.
After investigating the push and pull factors of immigration to Britain, I have arrived at the conclusion that people chose to migrate to Britain because of the opportunities available to all. The job opportunities were what appealed to most, but, also the political opportunities and freedom offered.
Q2) How far do you agree that Britain has been a tolerant nation?
Since immigration to Britain begun in droves, in the 1880s, Britain’s rate of tolerance has been queried. Let us look at how the government and public responded to the first group of mass immigrants: the Jews.
The government responded to public concern about the numbers of Jewish people allowed into Britain after 1906. Initially, most British sympathised with the problems of the Eastern Jews. However, from 1984 onwards, as the numbers of Russian Jews increased, attitudes changed. The public felt that the immigrants, or ‘aliens’ as they were known as, were threatening their jobs and housing so, they became more hostile.
The ‘aliens’ soon became an issue in British politics. Many people felt that a law was needed to decide who would settle in Britain. The society felt that the Jews added to overcrowding and hygiene problems and to competition for work. In 1892, 1894 & 1895 the Trade Union Congress passed resolutions against ‘alien immigration’.
Interest in a law to limit immigration came from within two main parties in the 1890s, namely, the Conservative and Liberal parties. In 1900 when the Conservatives won the election, they demanded immigration controls. A group campaigning for restrictions on immigration emerged, called the British Brothers’ League. It was backed and created by some Conservative MPs.
A Royal Commission on Alien Immigration was set up by the conservative government in March 1902. The Commissioners wanted to help only those refugees who could help themselves but stop those who were ‘undesirable’ meaning the mentally ill, diseased, paupers or criminals. A new law was prepared on this basis. The regulation of 1904 would exclude as ‘undesirable’, ‘persons of notoriously bad character, or without visible means of support or likely to become a public charge’.
However, this law was strongly opposed by Liberals and shipping companies. With so much opposition, the Government withdrew the bill. The bill was not completely withdrawn though, changes were made and it was put back to Parliament in 1905. Now, immigrants could appeal to an immigration committee. The Liberals also felt that this would be popular and so, without any opposition, the bill became law on 10 August 1905.
When war came the Jews were encouraged to join up and fight for their country. When they did not it brought about a lot of prejudice, condemnation and lack of sympathy towards them, and during the war a lot of Jews were attacked. It was not only the Jews who were treated with such prejudices. It was black Africans moreover e.g. rent houses would put particular clauses like, “no Blacks” or, “no coloured” etc. This made it harder to find residence and they had to settle for areas with high rent and terrible living conditions.
In 1962, the majority of cities still had ‘black’ areas that were separated from ‘white’ areas. It was like an unauthorized apartheid. Both groups of people tried not to mix and integration hardly ever took place between the two groups. They set up their own churches and begun a whole society of their own. Since 1900 when the British Empire was at its peak and the British were very nationalistic, many of their actions and ideas were racist though not labelled as such.
In 1948 Britain granted citizenship to all those who lived in colonies abroad so that Britain could secure aid from them, when required. This created a surge of immigration and the racial prejudices began. Britain began to limit the number of immigrants allowed into the country through the Immigration Act 1972. A second act was hurried through Parliament only allowing white Africans from Africa, not black Africans.
This detestation for settlers was even more extreme in the period 1960-70. The National Front won the election and they thought that the immigrants should be sent back. These ideas appealed to many people. The National Front incited racial hatred and prejudice to get its ideas across. Black people were openly browbeaten and as an effect of all of this Cable Street 1936 happened.
Events like these caused a Race Relations Act was passed in 1965, making racism in public places illegal and inciting racial hatred, a crime. This act was unsuccessful and black people were blamed for inciting racial hatred against whites. A second act was passed in 1976 making racial discrimination a crime but not much was done in favour of that. The act only seemed for show and was not put into practice.
As of 1981 British Nationals have not been allowed into the country but refugees and asylum seekers began to arrive instead. Immigration was controlled but unsuccessfully, illegal immigration continued. The refugees brought sympathy in some but anger and hatred in others. The government ensued a policy of supplying the asylum seekers with benefits to stop them from jeopardising the jobs of the British Citizens.
Beginning in the 1970s racism in the police force began against the blacks. Black people were harassed by the police and made to stop without any reasons. Trade unions were also prejudiced against foreign labour; skilled immigrants were given low-paid unskilled jobs. Only after the Stephen Lawrence incident in 1933 did matters in these institutions change.
Only in the last 10-15 years has British tolerance increased toward immigrants. Propaganda has decreased racism in institutional facilities such as the police. The majority of British citizens live in peaceful harmony however; there are the trouble-making minority. Due to rising world tension there have been racist riots and attacks like the Oldham riots in the year 2000 to 2001 owing to the National Front Party and more recently national mistrust of Muslims.
Therefore, conclusively I cannot say that Britain has been a tolerant country. Britain has been tolerant up to a point but the real debate, publicly and openly with all parts of society coming forward to express their views, has only just begun. The debates about integration, national identities etc. are pushing the borders of Britain’s tolerance policy and we are yet to see how far Britain will stretch it.
Net-migration means the inflows of people into a region or a country minus the outflows in a given time period.