A Home Office commissioned paper that officials have repeatedly tried to suppress over the past year reveals the origins of the Windrush scandal lay in 30 years of racist immigration legislation designed to reduce the UK’s non-white population,
The 52-page analysis by an unnamed historian describes how “the British Empire depended on racist ideology in order to function”. It concludes that the origins of the “deep-rooted racism of the Windrush scandal” lie in the fact that “during the period 1950-1981, every single piece of immigration or citizenship legislation was designed at least in part to reduce the number of people with black or brown skin who were permitted to live and work in the UK”.
The report states, “Major immigration legislation in 1962, 1968 and 1971 was designed to reduce the proportion of people living in the United Kingdom who did not have white skin.”
The unnamed Home Office historian writes: “The British Empire depended on racist ideology in order to function, which in turn produced legislation aimed at keeping racial and ethnic groups apart … From the beginning, concern about Commonwealth immigration was about skin colour.” In the 1950s, British officials shared a “basic assumption that ‘coloured immigrants’, as they were referred to, were not good for British society,” the report states.
The document summarises decades of “dysfunctional relationships between Britain’s institutions and Black and minority ethnic people”, and concludes: “The politics of Britain’s borders, which have been administered for more than a century by the Home Office, are now inextricably connected with race and with Britain’s colonial history.”
The report also cites a letter from the prime minister of the Federation of the West Indies, Sir Grantley Adams, to the Conservative prime minister Harold Macmillan. Sir Grantley protested that “Britain has begun to take steps which are no different in kind to the basis on which the system of apartheid in South Africa is based” by introducing the 1962 Commonwealth Immigrants Act.