Theses Doctoral

Anti-Immigrationism and Conservatism in Britain, 1955-1981

Longpre, Nicole Marion

This dissertation examines the shape, objectives, and fate of the anti-immigrationist movement from 1955 to 1981. During this period, groups and individuals operated within the confines of the British political system to advocate for the restriction of non-white immigration to the UK and also to minimize the perceived negative impact these immigrants were having upon the social and economic fabric of the UK. The study argues that by attaching their anti-immigrationist objections to existing political concerns, including anxieties about the welfare state, and by advocating for anti-immigrationist policies and legislation within the confines of established techniques of political activism and protest, anti-immigrationists were far more successful than they might otherwise have been, and indeed more successful than academic studies and popular opinion have portrayed them. However, their reliance upon a language of active citizenship and genuine democracy to justify their arguments to restrict immigration proved to be less popular with elite politicians and senior civil servants than a language of inclusivity and civil rights. As such, while much of the substantive legislation which anti-immigrationists advocated for was implemented at the highest level of government, the anti-immigrationist ethos, and the language in which they expressed their views, was not adopted by these powerful individuals, resulting in a foreclosure and minimization of the role of anti-immigrationists in agitating for the implementation of this legislation and body of policy. Furthermore, the decline of the anti-immigrationist movement was less the result of the success of the left in persuading the right to abandon its commitment to anti-immigrationism than of the success of the extreme right in claiming anti-immigrationism as its own, to the dismay of the more moderate right and centre-right.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Pedersen, Susan G.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 27, 2016