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‘Good Citizens? Ugandan Asians, Volunteers and ‘Race’ Relations in 1970s Britain’ by Becky Taylor.

The article by Becky Taylor is divided into three sections and overall discusses the Ugandan Resettlement in 1970s Britain following after they were expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin in 1972. In this article the author argues that paying attention to such small moments not only lies within the wider tradition of micro history but offers a way to synthesize concerns more often associated with post-war British history than with neglected histories of refugees and forcibly displaced populations. The author also uses these events in order to analyse the relationship between post-colonialism and the idea of citizenship and voluntarism.


Following the introduction which set the scene of the resettlement, the first section of the article speaks about the history of settlement of citizens from British ex-colonies, especially that of Kenyan Asians in the late 1960s. The author discusses the effect of settlement of ex-colonial individuals by focusing on this impact on British legislation and link the arrival of Kenyan Asians to the rushed passing on the 1968 Commonwealth Immigration Act, which was later strengthened by the 1971 Act. In this section, the author also speaks of the impact of the Act in terms of the settlement of Ugandan refugees, who were no longer entitled to an automatic right of entry into the UK. Within section one, Taylor also outlines the responsibilities of the Ugandan Resettlement Board who were in charge of the delivering the government’s reception and resettlement scheme. Finally, the author in this section outlines the important of charity and voluntary organisations in the support of refugees.


In section two, the author focuses more on the experiences of Ugandan refugees from their arrival at one of London’s three designated airports, to their experiences within resettlement camps. The author highlights the Boards’ emphasis on the involvement of retired administrators from ex-colonies. The article then speaks of the problems faced within camps when the process of resettlement turned out to be slower than expected by the Government and the Board, such as that of over-occupation. It is due to problems such as these that the author argues volunteers were of high importance within the camps for the support of refugees.


The final section of the article focusses on the enquiry into the role of the Greenham camp and the dismissal of Diane Woods, who was said to be at hear of the establishment of a social centre involving volunteers and expellees – which the older expellees, as well as the Board did not approval of. This section also talks about the depiction of expellees which was based partially on the basis of racism, which gave the camp residents very little room for challenging the conditions within the camps.


Overall, the article is very informative and bases a lot of its knowledge on statistics as well as information provided by other historians.

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IRG Spencer, ‘The open door, labour needs and British Immigration Policy, 1945-55’.

The article by I.R.G Spencer is divided into four parts and overall aims to recognise the policies made by the British government to restrict the settlements of subjects from the Empire and Commonwealth. The articles largely counterargues the common belief that Britain maintained an ‘open door’ policy in terms of immigration as the author examines that as early as the 1930s, British officials spoke of a ‘problem’ of settlement of people from the Empire and Commonwealth. Although not always through legislation, the British immigration policy was largely argued to be ‘obstructionist’, limiting the human movement of people from the areas mentioned above.  

Part one of the article examines the notion that immigration in the post-war period until 1962 was ‘racialised’ and race was often ‘politicised’. According to Spencer, this was the reason for a shift from the non-discriminatory to obstructive immigration policies. Spencer also argues that the British Government despite recruiting people from the Commonwealth and Empire during the Second World War, it largely pushed for them to return to their homeland after the hostilities stopped. Part one of the articles is concluded by an analysis of the Commonwealth Immigration Act 1962, which was said to provide a legal framework which enabled the British Government to limit settlement of Black and Asian British subjects.  

The second part of the article provides the reader with an insight into the different methods undertaken by the British government to discourage the settlement of – mainly – colonial citizens. The author gives examples of changes to issuing of passports and other administrative devices, one of these is the movement of passport approval from the colonial government to London, where the officials were said to be stricter on allowing entry and settlement. Further, many of those wishing to travel to Britain were required to possess a sponsor before being granted entry, this often discouraged the less affluent migrants. Additionally, the author also describes how the British Government aimed to deter colonial citizens from wishing to settle in Britain by sending over unemployment figures – especially those of colonials already settled in Britain. Lastly, within the second part of the article, the author states that although Britain was said to provide equality for all members of the Empire and Commonwealth, that certainly was not the case for other ‘foreigners’. 

Part three of the article discusses the ‘colour problem’ as a result of Empire Windrush. However, the author discusses how following an investigation, proposal for additional restrictions was rejected due to a lack of evidence that Empire Windrush was the beginning of a large-scale immigration. This part of the article also states that there was a lack of mention of labour needs during immigration debates and that one cannot generalise the attitudes towards Commonwealth immigration was the attitudes and opinions varied. 

The article is concluded in section four where the author argues that the measures put in place were of little success, particularly in the Caribbean. However, in the Indian subcontinent, emigration to Britain was made much more difficult as a result of the changes. 

Overall, the article is very detailed and informative, examining each aspect of British policy in the period 1945-55 thoroughly.  

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‘The British Communist Party’s National Jewish Committee and the fight against Anti-Semitism during the Second World War’ by Henry Srebrnik

This blog post is concentrated around an article by Henry Srebrnik titled ‘The British Communist Party’s National Jewish Committee and the fight against Anti-Semitism during the Second World War’.

The structure of the article is simple. Following an introduction, the author divides the article into three sections: political campaign against domestic fascists, the National Jewish Committee and the Communist approach to Anti-Semitism and finally, the 1945 General Election. The article details the fight against anti-Semitism very well and is greatly informative.

Within the introduction, the author states that one should not be fooled by thinking that being at war with Germany meant that British society was free from anti-Semitism, as that is contrary to the truth as anti-Semitic groups experienced a rise during the war years.


The first section of the main body of the article speaks of a several things. The author makes clear the frustration of the Jewish community following the internment of ‘enemy aliens’ which meant that in some cases Jewish refugees were confined alongside Nazi followers. The anti-Semitic feeling was evident especially through the accusation of Jewish people being at heart of the black market, not only as individuals but also as a community due to the apparent involvement of synagogues. Srebrnik points out that there was attempts made to counter-argue that, for example by Willie Gallacher who was the Communist MP for West Fife (1943). The National Council for Civil Liberties was actively fighting against anti-Semitism in 1943 as they firstly, proposed legislation which would make anti-Semitism and fascist a criminal offence, and later held a conference in London to plan a nationwide campaign against anti-Semitism. The article also points out that the Board of Deputies opposed the possible new legislation on the grounds that it would not be successful. Srebrnik highlights the effectiveness of the Communist campaign through stating that it results in more than 300 organisations calling the Home Secretary to ban the British National Party.


In the second section of the article, Srebrnik provides an overview of the general anti-Semitic and anti-Fascist stance of the Communist Party and states that especially in the year up to 1935 approach was a reductionist one. However, post-1935 their approach changed as they began to seek the support of the Jewish community. Srebrnik also goes to define anti-semitism as a tactic of fascist politics, not a conflict between cultures or religions and was to be combatted by appealing to the self-interest of workers. Overall, the article states that the Communist Party – especially after 1941 was rather sympathetic towards the Jewish Community and dedicated their politics to fight for their freedom from discrimination.


In the final section of the article, the author highlights the National Jewish Committee’s (NJC) stance in favouring a Labour or progressive government as they were the only ones who could combat anti-Semitism. The NJC also argued that the Tories ‘co-existed with Mosley and the Nazism in Europe’ which makes them unsuitable for eliminating anti-Semitism in Britain. Srebrnik finishes the article by presenting an analysis of the Communist Party’s manifesto, which overall mirrored that of the Labour Party with the exception of a couple of policies.

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‘Middlesbrough’s “Forgotten Japanese”: the Japanese Community in Middlesbrough during the inter-way years’ by Marie Conte-Helm

The focus of this blog post is an article titled ‘Middlesbrough’s “Forgotten Japanese”: the Japanese Community in Middlesbrough during the inter-war period’ by Marie Conte-Helm.


The article is well structured and has an aim of investigating the context of the history of Japanese emigration and the North-East past and present associations with Japan. The article is very detailed and presents the reader with an overview of the motivations behind Japanese emigration, as well as their reasons behind the migrants’ settlement in Middlesbrough.


In terms of history, the article explains that Japanese migration to Britain was a result of Japanese investment which brought over companies and families. The people involved in this movement where often short-term migrants and typically stayed for a period of up to 5 years before returning home. The first documented Japanese visitors are said to have been in Newcastle in 1862, however it wasn’t until the Meiji government overturned the Isolationist policies in 1868 that movements of Japanese nationals became more frequent. The article argues that the emigration of Japanese nationals was a result of industrialisation as it led to an increase of land taxes – therefore forcing farmers off their land. Between the years of 1880-1893 367,000 Japanese farmers faced this situation.

The article also states that the Meiji government also played a significant role in the process of emigration as it not only encouraged people to travel overseas, but also played an active part in overseas contract labour business between the years of 1885-1894, and although the rate of emigration did not peak until 1902-1904, this encouragement was essential in laying the foundation for future emigration.


In terms of attraction to the North-East, the Rivers Tyne, Tees and Wear contributed majorly to Japanese commercial shipping, later also the development of passenger ships. The most relevant example being the European Line Service which made Middlesbrough their port of re-fuelling and loading, therefore allowing passengers to depart there. Between 1896-1902 the article states 29,777 passengers were transported from Japan to Europe via this service. Also, for the Japanese sailors, the article argues, Middlesbrough was their home away from home.


The article also states that the most significant wave of Japanese incomers – in the context of Middlesbrough – took place in the second decade of the 20th century and by 1920, approximately 250 Japanese nationals were living there. The article also conveys that the Japanese community within Middlesbrough was very tight-knit as it was vastly concentrated in the Marton Road area. The article also notes that the Japanese community seemed to be generally accepted by the host community and their treatment was considerably better than that of the Italian migration, for example.


The article uses a lot statistical evidence to illustrate the extent of the importance of the Japanese community and also contains pictures of some of the members of the community.

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“Women’s Experience of Internment” by Miriam Kochan

“Women’s Experience of Internment” by Miriam Kochan is a very detailed account of how interment looked for many women at the beginning of the Second World War. Overall, the chapter provides a timeline of events and key turning points in legislation which made a difference in women’s experiences during internment. Simultaneously, the chapter gives the reader an overview of different aspects of experience which women encountered which are mainly split into working/living conditions, relationships and communication with the outside world. Finally, the chapter also makes a number of comparisons of the treatments of women in internment camps as opposed to that of men.


In terms of the timeline, Kochan presents a number of the legislative changes which impacted internment. Beginning in 1940, with the Home Office order on 12 May of internment for all males ages 16-60, later on 27 May the first order to arrest women of the same age group (although they were subject to exceptions). The first main turning point in terms of internment was made on 10 July 1940 where a House of Commons debate highlighted the evils of the internment scheme. On 31 July White Papers announced the preparation of release of grade C internees who fell into one of the 18 categories presented. Kochan also highlights the importance of the Asquith Committee who made a number of recommendations which affected internment, which largely focused on releasing grade B internees – subject to a tribunal interview. Kochan states that internment was a largely finished incident in August 1942 when there were less than 5000 enemy aliens remaining on the Isle of Man.


Kochan also illustrates the changes which took place over time in terms of conditions within camps. In terms of conditions she highlights that they were never great, but they progressively changed from women living in small cells with the doors closed to the ability to wander round the villages of the Isle of Man when they were placed there. Also, Kochan mentions that although women always carried out domestic jobs within their hotels, they were later given a payment for their work which was 6 pence a day. In terms of relationships within camps there was a conflict noted between Nazis and non-Nazis, but regardless of that Kochan notes that fights and arguments took place daily, even amongst those who shared the same opinions which conveys that the tensions were high. Communication with the outside world as Kochan notes was very limited during the early days of internment but later became readily available and used by most, this was both in terms of news and communication between camps.


Kochan in the chapter also makes a number of comparisons which go to show that women were treated much more leniently than their male counterparts. This she said could be due to the fact that the Home Office was in charge of the custody of internees for women, where in the case of men it was the War Office.


The article is very informative and a sources its information mostly – if not entirely – from primary sources such as newspapers produced at the given time, as well as statements provided by women who experienced internment which makes the information very reliable.

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Session 5 – ‘The Anti-Jewish Riots of 1911 in South Wales: A Re-Examination’ W.D Rubinstein

This blog post will focus on the main aspects of the re-examination of the riots in 1911 which took place in South Wales provided by W.D Rubinstein.


Overall, this article is lengthy due to the amount of detail it includes and shows a different perspective into the 1911 riots of South Wales. Rubinstein clearly highlights the aim of this articles in the introductory session which is to question all the popular assumptions about the riots. He does this by arguing that: philo-Semitism* was an important part of Welsh culture and identity, claims of premeditation were false and the anti-Jewish climate and anti-Semitic aspects assumed during these riots were greatly exaggerated.


To illustrate the first argument, Rubinstein points out that during the late 19th century when Jews were being persecuted in Russia, the Welsh were especially vocal in support of the victims which is evident through the rallies held in Wales against the persecution, first of which was held in February 1882 – 10 months after the first pogrom.


Additionally, the article argues that due to the lack of an organised group in South Wales at the given time, historians tend to exaggerate the importance of minor events around 1911 in order to emphasise a false belief of anti-semitism intensifying in the area. Rubinstein uses an example the ‘blood libel’ which allegedly took place in Pontypridd in 1903 and argues that the allegations were false and in fact were not based on any real evidence. As a matter of fact, the news of this was only published in one source where the information came from an unnamed correspondent.


Rubinstein next counter-argues the theory of the riots being fuelled by anti-Antisemitism, particularly ‘rich Jews’ anti-semitism. The article states that although there is evidence of left-wing sources targeting wealth individuals – primarily Jews – there is no evidence that could link such sources to the riots of 1911. Rubinstein also argues that although the riots began by targeting Jewish properties their dynamic changed over the following week as non-Jewish shops were also damaged – which was largely omitted by the press. The initial attacks of the riots – as argued by Rubinstein – were not fuelled by anti-Semitism but indeed rooted in economic reasons. The Jewish shopkeepers and landlords were accused of raising prices of necessities which angered to general public.


This articles in thorough and very informative – providing arguments that are not popular with other historians. The author uses a number of sources to form his counter-arguments which majorly focus on the work of Professor Alderman.


*philo-Semitism is described as an interest in, respect for and an appreciation of Jewish people.

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Harold Pollins, ‘The Jews’

This article by Harold Pollins, as the name suggests focuses on the experiences of Jewish individuals within Britain, with a focus primarily on the years leading up to the First World War. Pollins was a renowned historian of Anglo-Jewish history. 

This article by Pollins provides an thorough discussion into the experiences of European Jews in the years leading up to the First World War and examines some of the push and pull factors for their migration. Pollins discusses that one of the major pull factors of Jewish migration westward was that of greater economic opportunity in lands of economic advancement such as Britain and North America, as well as the promise of freedom in a foreign land. A major push factor – especially for Russian Jews – was exactly the opposite of the pull factors above. Pollins highlights that in 1830s majority of the Russian Jewish population was forced to live in the Pale of Settlement. The Pale of Settlement was a western region of Imperial Russia between 1791 and 1917 where only the Jewish citizens could reside, and there residency was forbidden elsewhere.

The migration of Jews into Britain, as Pollins highlights was often a place of trans-shipment where they stopped temporarily on their way to American cities, such as New York. However, during their stop it is documented that some were tricked out of money, leaving them stranded in Britain (this links well with ‘Point of Arrival’ by Herman Landau, 1887). In some cases however, Pollins advocates for chain migration of European Jews who likely followed their family or friends who arrived here before them. The articles points out that although Jewish migration into Britain was a cause for concern amongst the public, which can be seen through the Royal Commission on Alien Immigration – which was primarily focused on Jews – as well as the 1905 Aliens Act, it is important to note that European Jewish migrants accounted for 1-2% on the population increase between in the year 1881-1911.

Pollins examines the settlement of Jews in Britain also through looking at where they settled and other aspects of their communities. The article summarises that Jewish migrants were easily distinguished in Britain due to speaking Yiddish and their sense of dress primarily, which added to the view of them as ‘aliens’. Pollins notes that Jewish migrants stuck together through settling in cities where they formed their own communities and working primarily in the same sectors/for the same employers.

In terms of evidence, Pollins focuses greatly on statistics of population increases as well as an analysis of the sectors in which Jewish migrants were employed. Further, Pollins reflects on the Booth survey of the 1880’s which he says contributed to the associated of poor working conditions with Jewish immigrants. Lastly, Pollins also refers to a couple of newspapers in order to illustrate the hostile attitudes towards Jewish incomers.