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Title: 'A challenge to principle and to conscience'? : the British Labour Party's response to New Commonwealth immigration, c.1958-c.1968
Author: Cross, Amy
ISNI:       0000 0004 9357 7596
Awarding Body: University of Central Lancashire
Current Institution: University of Central Lancashire
Date of Award: 2020
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The Labour Party’s response towards New Commonwealth immigration to Britain has been the subject of intense historical debate. Labour’s move from opposing the restriction of Commonwealth immigration in 1962 to then tightening immigration controls in 1965 and 1968 whilst simultaneously introducing Britain’s first and second Race Relations Acts, has formed part of a wider debate regarding how far Labour was responsible for reconstructing British society along more socially liberal lines during the 1960s. The aim of this thesis is to contribute to existing understanding of the Labour Party’s response to New Commonwealth immigration by analysing the extent to which the party adhered to a principled socially liberal approach in developing and implementing its policies regarding Commonwealth immigration restrictions and race relations during the period c.1958-c.1968. There is little dialogue between the literature which analyses Labour’s policies on Commonwealth immigration controls and the texts which interrogate the party’s race relations policies. In order to bridge this gap the thesis will assess the rationale and influences which shaped the party’s policies in both of these areas, how far policy developments were interlinked, and the electoral implications and internal party debates arising from Labour’s policy decisions. Ultimately, this thesis will argue that far from implementing a principled socially liberal approach, the Labour Party pursued a highly pragmatic dual strategy on immigration restrictions and race relations which was rooted in Hugh Gaitskell’s leadership and shaped by public opinion emanating specifically from the West Midlands and Greater London. This dual strategy entailed introducing Commonwealth immigration restrictions alongside race relations legislation in an attempt to appease illiberal public opinion, promote integration and ease racial tensions. In making this argument the thesis will reveal that with regards to Commonwealth immigration restrictions and race relations, social liberalism was more contested and interpretations of social liberalism were more fluid within the Labour Party during this period than has hitherto been recognised.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Politics