The ‘Linchpin for Success’? The problematic establishment of the 1965 Race Relations Act and its Conciliation Board
Contemporary British History
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Reason for embargo
The 1965 Race Relations Act was the first legislation directed towards outlawing racial discrimination and racial incitement in Britain; but it has been almost universally criticised as weak, narrow and ineffectual. This article focuses on an area not adequately discussed in the existing literature—the debate about, and impact of, replacing initial criminal sanctions with American-styled conciliation and civil remedies, and subsequent creation of conciliation machinery. It argues that the protracted process of forming this Board had a greater impact upon the Act’s success than has been previously acknowledged, as it demonstrated the bipartite lack of desire to address the politically unpopular issue of race and immigration, thus creating further disillusionment towards the British state. Rather than being the ‘last step’ in such legislation, as desired by many at the time, its weaknesses and limitations stimulated criticism and increased political action, leading to subsequent broader legislation in future years.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from the publisher via the DOI in this record.