British society in the late 1960’s

1. How reliable is source B as evidence about the extent of discrimination within British society in the late 1960’s?

The Race Relations Board and the National Committee for Commonwealth Immigrants jointly commissioned the PEP report in April 1967 to investigate racial discrimination. The investigation was held in 6 areas of the country and involved not only questionnaires and interviews, but ‘situation Tests’.

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I think source B is reliable as evidence about the extent of discrimination within the British society in the late 1960s, but it does not give us enough information to fully support the statement as evidence. The source is only an extract from an interview conducted during the investigation; therefore the knowledge we can gain from it is limited. It does however state that ‘discrimination against coloured members of the population operates in many fields’ and that it operates on a ‘substantial scale.’ I would consider this useful and reliable information as it was from an authoritative report and demonstrates that racial discrimination was an ongoing problem that was beginning to be noticed by British society.

In the same year of the PEP report (1967) the National Front (NF) was set up when a few small fascist groups joined together. Its main aim was to win political power in order to introduce racist policies and laws, particularly to end black immigration and repatriate immigrants who had settled as British citizens. Racial discrimination was continuing to increase during 1967, but so did support for anti-racist organisations from black and white people.

The source shows that British society and the government were noticing the extent of discrimination against black people, as it says ‘not covered by the existing legislation’, so they had to finally admit that racial discrimination against blacks was happening and that there were no laws to support or even help black immigrants.

The PEP report took place when racial discrimination was increasing, but people’s attitudes towards racism were changing. The information gathered was authorised by the government so I do consider this source reliable if investigating the extent of racial discrimination in the late 1960’s.

2. How useful are sources D, E and G to an historian investigating British attitudes to immigration in the late 1960’s?

Source D is an article from the British newspaper The Daily Mirror, February 1968 and refers to the Asian immigrants entering Britain from Kenya. It states directly that ‘ Britain now faces the prospect of an uncontrolled flood of Asian Immigrants.’ In the period from December 1967 to February 1968, 7000 Asians entered Britain, so on 23rd February 1968, the Labour government introduced an emergency Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, which was rushed through both houses of Parliament and became Law on March 1st.

However, at this same time an anti-racist movement was introduced when the BPA, Black Peoples Alliance was set up to protect and offer support to Black Immigrants. I do think that this source is useful to an historian investigating British attitudes to immigration in the late 1960’s, but taking into account that it is an extract from a newspaper article we could assume that the information be biased and unreliable.

Source E would prove very useful to an historian investigating attitudes towards immigration in the late 1960’s because it is a famous speech by Enoch Powell. It became known as the ‘ Rivers of blood speech’ and predicted terrible consequences if immigration continued. In April 1968 whilst parliament debate new laws against racial discrimination, Enoch Powell made clear his views and opinions of black immigrants, trying desperately to brainwash the minds of unexpected victims. It contained references to other cultures such as ‘ engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre’, but twisted them into sarcastic, racist remarks. The repetition of the word ‘mad’ enforces how strongly opinionated Enoch Powell was when it came to Immigration and he was not afraid to speak the truth. The speech produced intense interest and anger. Many immigrants felt insulted and believed that their time in Britain might be limited.

The purpose of Source G, was to expose Powell in a humorous form. The cartoon was from The Daily Telegraph published on January 19, 1970, the cartoonist, Nick Garland. Taking into account that the cartoon is from a newspaper we have to accept that the internal content could be bias or contain exaggeration. Lots of people read newspapers, so an additional purpose of this source would be to attract a specific audience from the British Society. In the cartoon, Enoch Powell is shown looking forward, which demonstrates to me that he has not thought about looking back at what he has created. He is depicted as sowing seeds, which would produce a British KKK – element of fear. The signs contain racist, prejudice, and hatred remarks showing support for Powells expressed views. Although this source could be considered useful, it has the limitation of being the attitudes/opinions of one man, therefore we cannot accept it as a generalisation as the cartoon shows no evidence that Enoch Powell had any public support.

All three sources would prove valuable and useful to an historian investigating the British attitudes towards immigration in the late 1960’s, however they are all linked/related to Enoch Powell who was a highly opinionated man and completely against black immigration so these sources could be considered bias.