A LESSON IN SOLIDARITY
By CLIVE WAKELY
REPATRIATION. The mere word sends Establishment politicians and media recoiling in horror. The whole idea is 'extremist' and 'impossible', anyone who even contemplates the idea is politically 'beyond the pale'. Repatriation is nothing new, and has been used as a means of preserving ethnic character of the British peoples since the earliest manifestation coloured immigration in Elizabethan times. Repatriation has even been practiced in this century! In this article Clive Wakely examines the effect of coloured immigration in Liverpool, after the First World War, and the response of the British people then.
“THERE WERE further disturbances directed against the coloured population in the South-end of Liverpool yesterday. Several houses were raided by White men and bonfires made of the furniture, and late last night about 500 coloured men were rounded up and taken to the Bridewells for protection.
Last nights' raids were in the neighbourhood of Stanhope Street and Hull Street, and were carried out by a band of White men. Forcibly entering some of the houses, they threw the furniture out into the street and set it on fire. Large crowds assembled and it was with some difficulty that the police cleared the streets.”
The above and following passages record actual events as they were reported in the provincial press and are not, as some may have first thought, the fanciful imaginings of some over-active mind. The year was 1919 and the location Liverpool, then as now, a city of much unemployment and real hardship.
Sixty years on and coloured immigration has once again brought rioting to our city streets
Many of the Negroes then residing in Liverpool had arrived as seamen during the war years and easily found employment in the City's labour-starved factories and docks; replacing men who had either volunteered for, or had been conscripted into, the war against the Kaiser.
As ths war years passed and their numbers increased, so did the level of White resentment and indignation over their presence, particularly their involvement with White prostitution. But it was not until 1919 that the situation escalated into widespread violent disorder, for in June of that year the City was rocked by a series of race riots.
The return to the City of thousands of demobbed servicemen fresh from the blood-glutted fields of Flanders rapidly brought matters to a head. They had not returned, as the politicians had promised, to a 'land fit for heroes' but to a city of epidemics, grinding poverty and unemployment. To add insult to injury many employers who had, in fits of public patriotic fervour, promised to hold jobs open for servicemen pending their return from the trenches, had subsequently come to the realisation that Negro labour was cheap and therefore good for business.
So June 1919 saw Liverpool making national headlines as the City experienced the fury of a White backlash. Large numbers of mounted police were deployed to contain the situation and to protect the Negroes from the wrath of the White populace, an action that certainly saved many Negro lives. 'Elder Dempster's boarding-house in Stanhope Street was surrounded last night by a crowd, which broke the windows, and one of the mounted policemen engaged in dispersing the assemblage was injured by a missile'.
'With the object of preventing an occurence of racial fighting in the district of Pitt Street and Mill Street, the streets in the South-end of Liverpool yesterday were patrolled by a considerable number of Police and, although no serious disturbances took place during the day many coloured men were taken into custody for their own safety. In order to guard against rioters contingents of mounted police rode round the affected area, and their presence no doubt checked any attempt to organise a dangerous confrontation'.
In an attempt to defuse the explosive situation (at least one Negro had died in the rioting), the police began rounding-up the Negroes and placing them in protective custody. The authorities were in a difficult position, for they could neither release the Negroes for fear of renewed rioting, nor could they accommodate them for any length of time. In desperation the Home Secretary was consulted and the course of repatriation urged upon him by both Liverpool's police chiefs and its Lord Mayor. “In the Liverpool main Bridewell there are now over 700 Negroes who have been conveyed there for their own personal safety. The number is hourly increasing, as the police are removing more of them to this place of refuge. The authorities are somewhat embarrassed by the position created inasmuch as it is realised that the Coloured men cannot be housed in the Bridewell indefinitely. The police have communicated with the Home Secretary on the subject of repatriation, and also on the situation generally, and await his reply. A suggestion has been made that the Home Secretary might select some place in which the Negroes could be voluntarily interned until transport could he secured to enable them to return to their homes in West Africa and the West Indies.”
The violence was far from being one-sided. Police arrived in strength after learning of a large gathering of Negroes and after searching them found many to be in possession of deadly weapons.
“When the seventy men were removed from the Ethiopian Hall it was found that many of them had weapons in their possession, mostly razors, and the action of the police in taking the Negroes to Cheapside probably averted a very serious disturbance.”
Anti-Negro leeling also ran high amongst the seamen of other European nations as the following report illustrates:
“Five persons are now in hospital as the result of the desperate affray between Negroes and Danes in the region of a public-house near Great George Square last night. P.C. Brown, who was shot in the mouth, is reported to be only fairly comfortable. Nine men, all told, were admitted and five, including the constable, were detained. The others were Russians, Poles and Danes.”
To some of Liverpool's impoverished Whites the sight of an affluent Negro in a taxi proved too much of a provocation:
“The most sensational occurrence in this connection, however, occurred when a car in which a Coloured gentleman holding a good position on one of the Liverpool liners was driven along Russell Street. A number of roughs stopped the car, pulled him out and appropriated his luggage, which contained about ￡175 in notes and a quantity of jewellery. Some of the property was recovered by detectives who promptly made investigations. The money, however, has not been found.”
In spite of chronic unemployment many Whites were prepared to put their own jobs at risk by refusing to work with Negroes:
“The friction which has arisen has extended to one of the big factories in the City in which Black men have been employed for some time. One large manufacturer has sacked their Black employees, as the men in their service refuse to work with them.”
Most of the detained Negroes were eventually repatriated to their lands of origin and further race riots were averted.
These contemporary press reports are reproduced here not simply because they are interesting in themselves, but rather because they show a trait of the British character that I feel is in danger of extinction: that is White solidarity.
In today's Britain a backlash of the type that gripped Liverpool and other major cities in 1919 is almost unthinkable. Would today's employed tear themselves away from their colour televisions and videos to demand employment for their less fortunate countrymen? Can you see Police chiefs or Lord Mayors slipping away from their masonic functions to propose repatriation as a cure for racial strife? The answer to both these questions is an emphatic NO, which in itself is an indication of how far we as a nation have declined since 1919.
If we possessed the solidarity of our forefathers then Britain today would be a much different and far better country in which to live. We would not have a colour problem because White solidarity would have prevented one from developing in the first place.
It is not, however, the purpose of this article to engage in post mortems upon the corpse of White solidarity. It is hoped that by bringing a historic example to the attention of the reader that it's strength and potential can be realised. It remains to all of us to search for the key to its resurrection, for it is the key that unlocks the very door of power.