Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Graydon Tunstall, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Kathleen Paul, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Fraser Ottanelli, Ph.D.


Great Britain, Race relations, Citizenship, Conservative, Labour


Colored immigration from the New Commonwealth became a highly discussed issue in British party politics immediately following the Second World War, but in an effort to sustain Great Britain's imperial status, to portray the nation as a new enlightened force, and in reaction to the race issues taking hold in the American South, political elites moved to keep their debates concealed from the public. In this thesis, I investigate the positions of Labour and Conservative governments and the circumstances surrounding the emergence of race and immigration into the public sphere. Moreover, I examine the effects of its arrival. While the introduction of the British Nationality Act in 1948 by the Labour government might suggest a progressive and tolerant party focused on equality between all British subjects, and the restrictive legislation of 1962 indicates a Conservative party focused on restrictive, racist policies, thorough examination of the debates between the political elite and a clear understanding of the current state of affairs offers a different story. Immediate postwar policies were formed in the interest of shoring up empire, but as Britain began to move closer to Europe, realizing great power status might be beyond its capabilities, the importance of empire waned. Resultant discussions of restricting entry into Britain and increased racial tensions moved the debates from behind closed doors and into the public gaze. Party positions on the immigration became evident in the 1964 general election. The issue once relegated to private discussions between the political elite could now win or lose an election.