[This post was initially published as 'A little conspiracy theory of mine' on Oct 25 2016. I've now retitled it and linked some of the text with the notion of the Great Replacement Theory.]
Britain, after the Second World War ostensibly recruited workers from various developing countries in order to fill skill shortages. However, around the same time, there was a concerted effort by Australia to recruit working-class Britons. A possible explanation to this anomalous situation is that there was a concerted policy by Britain and Australia to ensure that Australia remained white. This is one argument against the idea that inward migration into the West is somehow an attack on white people. The two examples of migration examined here represent the opposite.
The Great Replacement Theory
According to Prof Matthew Feldman there is a lite of versions of The Great Replacement Theory and a full-fat one and the latter holds that:
This is a conspiracy organised by elites – they’re deliberately undermining white majorities.
In this post, I will argue that at least in terms of one example, this is indeed the case, but rather than representing some form of surrender on the part of the 'white race' as the far right claims the policy represents, it is actually the opposite.
The Windrush Generation
This is the narrative all Britons have been brought up with (the following is from the UK government's own website):
When the Second World War ended in 1945, it was quickly recognised that the reconstruction of the British economy required a large influx of immigrant labour. The Royal Commission on Population reported in 1949 that immigrants of 'good stock' would be welcomed 'without reserve', and potential newcomers from the Caribbean and elsewhere soon became aware of the pressing needs of the labour market in the UK.
It sounds very multi-culti, liberal and nice. Britain needed labour, brown people needed jobs and everyone would get along swimmingly in post-war Britain. This was not illegal immigration, it was planned and made good economic sense.
Here's some more justification from the British Library:
The UK was rebuilding itself after the massive destruction wreaked by World War II, and there were severe labour shortages. Immigration was one solution to this problem. A 1948 Act gave Commonwealth citizens free entry to Britain, and the arrival of the SS Empire Windrush from Jamaica in June that year marked the symbolic start of the postwar immigration boom. Many hundreds of thousands came from India, Pakistan and the West Indies to Britain through the 1950s, not just for short-term work, but settling for good. Immigration has continued and widened ever since, resulting in an ethnic and cultural diversity that would have been unthinkable in 1945.
To help immigration into the UK, the British Nationality Act of 1948 gave rights to all people from the commonwealth to settle in the country. West Indian immigration to the UK from the 1940's to the 1960s was about 170,000. In Britain, there was an increase of about 80,000 people originating from the Indian sub-continent from 1951 to 1961.
So if there was such a shortage of labour in postwar Britain, surely the British government would have been aghast at the prospect of Britons leaving the UK? And trying to put a stop to it?
The Assisted Passage Scheme from Britain to Australia
Australia's 'Assisted Passage Migration Scheme' started in 1945 and involved 1 million people migrating from Britain to Australia.
Australia desperately wanted white British stock to populate its shores and build its burgeoning post-war economy.
The racist law, known as The White Australia Policy, meant blacks or Asians need not apply. Britain was more than happy to oblige, helping to populate the Commonwealth with Britons.
Beginning in 1947, it was one of the largest planned mass migrations of the 20th Century. Some were transported in refitted troop ships.
The following paper adds some nuance to this:
Relief for the British economy was sought by immigration, by the recruiting of ‘displaced persons’ from war-torn continental Europe, by huge volumes of Irish immigration, and by the arrival of immigrants from the West Indies, the first cohorts arriving aboard the Empire Windrush in 1948.48 There was therefore greater official reluctance in Britain after 1945 to encourage post-war migration even to the Commonwealth.
Yet despite the 'reluctance' we still get:
Thanks to intensive lobbying by the Australian government and in spite of demographic and economic anxieties, the British government was persuaded to renew, repeatedly, the Empire (later Commonwealth) Settlement Act and the assisted passage scheme, but British financial support was diminished and the act was allowed to lapse in 1972.
Stephen Constantine (2003) British emigration to the empire- commonwealth since 1880: From overseas settlement to Diaspora?, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 31:2, 16-35, DOI: 10.1080/03086530310001705586
From the same paper the following motivation, which refers to policies in the nineteenth century could perhaps explain the flow of people observed at the top of this post:
Severe restrictions limited the rights of ‘Asiatics’ to enter the empire’s settler societies, and that discrimination affected even fellow ‘citizens’ of the empire, such as those seeking entry from British India.
In sum, Britain was allowed to go a bit brown, because it was essential that Australia, Canada and other dominions remain essentially white. And this racist policy was maintained until the facts on the ground had been established. This point is one counter-arguments to the 'Great Replacement Theory' that has been espoused in some far-right circles in the West.
Counterarguments to the great replacement theory would point out that, if anyone has grounds for complaint, it is the Indigenous people of North and South America, Australia and New Zealand, Africa and many other parts of the world, who have been “replaced” by colonial settlers.
So we have two migration stories. And the funny thing is that the first story is covered in the press, and you'll also find the second story given a lot of attention.
But the two are never mentioned together.
It's when you put, what are otherwise very positive stories together, that something far nastier emerges. Something which is within plain sight but unacknowledged.