What’s going on, Eric?

David Renton

  • Walls Come Tumbling Down: The Music and Politics of Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone and Red Wedge by Daniel Rachel
    Picador, 589 pp, £12.99, May 2017, ISBN 978 1 4472 7268 7

In May 1976, two families of Asian immigrants from Malawi – UK passport-holders – were put up in a hotel while social workers decided what to do with their children. The Sun ran it as a front page story: ‘Scandal of £600 a week Asians’. The Mirror followed up by condemning a ‘New Flood of Asians into Britain’. The Express warned that 145,000 further migrants might follow. Supporters of the National Front rushed to Gatwick to chant: ‘Don’t unpack, you must go back.’ In local elections on 6 May (the same day as the Mirror’s story), the Front’s 168 candidates secured an average vote of 8.9 per cent. During a Commons debate in July, John Stokes, the Conservative MP for Halesowen and Stourbridge, a former admirer of General Franco and a supporter of the Monday Club, pointed to the growing constituency for the National Front and insisted that ‘a date must soon be fixed beyond which no further immigration can be allowed. The young immigrants who have just come here will have to return to their homelands and their families.’

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