In 1948 after World War II, Britain started to receive low-level immigration from its colonies. But – even within the British Labour party of that era – there were those who sensed that this could be the beginning of mass immigration on a scale likely to cause serious problems in Britain.For example, the Prime Minister Clement Attlee was sent a letter on 22 June, 1948 signed by eleven Labour members of parliament who opposed mass immigration into Britain.This letter said the following:“This country may become an open reception centre for immigrants not selected in respect to health, education, training, character, customs and above all, whether assimilation is possible or not.The British people fortunately enjoy a profound unity without uniformity in their way of life, and are blest by
Lord Keynes considers the following as important: Opposition to Mass Immigration in the British Labour Party of 1948
This could be interesting, too:
For example, the Prime Minister Clement Attlee was sent a letter on 22 June, 1948 signed by eleven Labour members of parliament who opposed mass immigration into Britain.
This letter said the following:
“This country may become an open reception centre for immigrants not selected in respect to health, education, training, character, customs and above all, whether assimilation is possible or not.The notion that Liberals and Leftists have always accepted open borders and mass immigration into the West is a lie.
The British people fortunately enjoy a profound unity without uniformity in their way of life, and are blest by the absence of a colour racial problem. An influx of coloured people domiciled here is likely to impair the harmony, strength and cohesion of our public and social life and to cause discord and unhappiness among all concerned.
In our opinion colonial governments are responsible for the welfare of their peoples and Britain is giving these governments great financial assistance to enable them to solve their population problems. We venture to suggest that 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.
In our opinion such legislation or administrative action would be almost universally approved by our people.”
Letter to the Prime Minister, 22 June, 1948.
In reality, concern about mass immigration on political, social, economic, and even demographic grounds was firmly part of the pre-1960s Left, and there has even been a strong tradition of support for severe immigration restriction on sectors of the Left too.
The eleven dissident Labour members of parliament in 1948 were also correct that the British people were strongly against mass immigration. Much later when Enoch Powell, a Tory, came out against mass immigration into Britain after his “Rivers of Blood” speech of 20 April, 1968, Powell received massive popular support not only from the middle class, but also from the British working class (see Lindop 1998), as can be seen in this documentary:
It is likely that Brexit too was to a great extent the result of working class hostility to mass immigration.
In short, the British public never voted for Third World mass immigration, and never desired it. Instead, it was a policy implemented from above by both Labour and Conservative governments who did not have a mandate for a policy that would have such far-reaching economic, social and demographic effects on Britain.
See my posts here:
Lindop, Fred. 1998. “Racism and the Working Class: Strikes in Support of Enoch Powell in 1968,” Labour History Review 66.1: 79–100.