The notion of a multi-cultural Britain denotes, as we saw in the last chapter, recognition of the existence of a citizenry composed by people of different colours and celebrating a diversity of cultures. But this has been so for only the last three decades at the very most, and it is not universally embraced. Until mass migration from the Commonwealth Caribbean, the Indian sub-continent and Africa from 1948, Britain was seen as a white country; indeed, in many parts of Britain and the contemporary world, the country is still seen as ‘white people’s country’, reflecting the image of an exclusive imperial order. This perception of Britain is still unambiguously projected by Her Majesty’s Government in embassies and high commissions abroad. But even if it is conceded that this perception of British society may have been close to the reality at some point between the Union of England and Scotland in the early eighteenth century and the demise of British imperial power during the second half of the present century, it may be argued that this was not so before nor during the last four or so decades. It is suggested here that it has been the migration flows from the Caribbean, South Asia and Africa, in the years between the late 1940s and the late 1970s, that established the basis for significant change in British society, it is no longer possible meaningfully to speak of it as being exclusively so.
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