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Two tone Britain

“Opinions differ about Britain’s racial problems. But the mentality which tries to solve them with coshes and broken railings has no place in the British way of life. This violence is evil, and the Law and public opinion must stamp it out.”

Can you imagine these words being used on Sky News to describe the 41% soar in hate crimes after the Brexit referendum? No, neither can I.

But these were the words of a British Pathé newsreel in September 1958 to describe Notting Hill’s week of riots. Pathé was a newsreel which was rated by the Board of British Film Censors, which played in cinemas the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, film theatres which were licensed and approved by local and parish councils. Along with the BBC, these were the words of authority in Britain of 1958. This wasn’t dark muttering by Members of the Westminster and European Parliaments about “uprisings” if the voice of a mythic, forgotten white working class wasn’t heeded.

It was a firm denunciation of aggressive intolerance, in impeccably enunciated English, and a Labour MP hadn’t even been shot and murdered in cold blood by a white supremacist wingnut.