Post-war Liberalism and the Politics of Race and Immigration

In the run-up to the 2001 general election, the issues of asylum and race relations moved to centre stage, with Liberal Democrats winning plaudits for their firm stand against discrimination.

But the arguments are not new. Race relations and immigration were a major phenomenon of post-war politics. From the Macmillan Governments “voucher” system for would-be immigrants to Labours 1968 legislation to end the passport privileges of Kenyan Asians, both major parties sought to pander to white prejudice. The late 1960s also saw Enoch Powells infamous call for the repatriation of black and other Commonwealth immigrants and the rise of the National Front.

Where did Liberals stand? And what impact did racial politics and immigration have on Liberalism?