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Before the WindrushRace Relations in 20th-Century Liverpool$
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John Belchem

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781846319679

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781846319679.001.0001

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‘It took a riot’

‘It took a riot’

(p.251) Chapter Eight ‘It took a riot’
Before the Windrush

John Belchem

Liverpool University Press

Within a month of the warning by the Select Committee on Race Relations that Liverpool was ‘the most disturbing case of racial disadvantage in the United Kingdom’, rioting erupted in Liverpool 8. While left-wing activists claimed the events of summer 1981 as a revolt of the dispossessed, the specific location of the riots indicated a crucial racial component. Brushing aside the ill-concealed racism of the Chief Constable and his force, official response to the riots took the form of headline-grabbing initiatives to tackle urban deprivation not institutional racism. Implementation of an equal opportunities policy halted when Militant prohibited any form of ‘divisive’ positive action to tackle racial disadvantage and discrimination. As a reconciliatory gesture, the Labour administration which replaced Militant called upon Lord Gifford to examine race relations in the city. Drawing upon their long experience in other cities, the inquiry team judged racism in Liverpool to be ‘uniquely horrific’.

Keywords:   riot, Liverpool 8, institutional racism, Militant, equal opportunities policy

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