'Britain's Racist Election' aired on Channel 4 on Sunday night highlighting how race relations in the run up to the 1964 general election were so toxic that Birmingham saw the formation of the UK's first branch of the KKK.
After 5,000 immigrants from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean moved to the West Midlands in the mid-sixties, politicians latched on to a growing sense of resentment.
In an indication of just how vitriolic the campaign was, one Tory poster declared:
And it wasn't just limited to the Smethwick area.
— Shafik Mandhai (@ShafikFM) March 15, 2015
The documentary aired as Britain approaches another general election characterised by intense debate on immigration.
— MeeraSyal (@MeeraSyal) March 15, 2015
Yet reaction to the documentary suggests we have forgotten how such sentiments lead to violence on the streets just 50 years ago and only 20 years after the defeat of Nazism.
It's disgusting how schools are keen to teach racism in other countries but not this. 17 I've never heard of this. #BritainsRacistElection— George Chick (@GeorgeChick) March 15, 2015
This was less than 20yrs after we defeated the Nazi's. After we fought against hateful ideology. Absolute madness. #BritainsRacistElection— The Wonderball (@The_Wonderball) March 15, 2015
I lived in Smethwick completely unaware of this incredible history, no wonder Malcolm X visited #BritainsRacistElection— Shafik Mandhai (@ShafikFM) March 15, 2015
And the modern-day equivalent of Tory MP Peter Griffiths was left in little doubt.
The KKK making statements in a pub & their leader talking with a pint and a fag... Who else does that? #BritainsRacistElection— John Ottaway (@JohnOttaway) March 15, 2015
Today's Conservatives didn't get away with it either.
And many contrasted immigrants coming to the UK with past British colonial behaviour.
You never learn about Britain's racist past in the history books. They conveniently brush it aside. #BritainsRacistElection— Edward (@TeddyJames_) March 15, 2015
Watching white folk say "immigrants are here to exploit and colonise us", with no sense of history or irony at all #BritainsRacistElection— Pukkah Punjabi (@PukkahPunjabi) March 15, 2015
The similarities between 1964 and 2014 were clear.
#BritainsRacistElection making for very uncomfortable but necessary viewing. Many of those archaic racist views are still prevalent sadly— Jacqueline Shepherd (@JaxxSheps) March 15, 2015
UKIP minority candidates take note as you point the finger at today's migrants same words were said about ur parents #BritainsRacistElection— Andrea (@crownof12) March 15, 2015
have attitudes actually changed that much or just become buried? hmmmm 😒March 15, 2015
Interestingly, the things people are saying in this 50-year-old footage on the things UKIP voters are saying now. #BritainsRacistElection— Complexicated Cookie (@Johnboy_Cook) March 15, 2015
Shame nothings changed #BritainsRacistElection— henry (@GeneralHenryJ) March 15, 2015
Basically the same as now but less hidden? I'd like to think we learn from past mistakes but no.. #britainsracistelection— elsiebelle (@elsiebell) March 15, 2015
But the irony of Channel 4's current scheduling didn't go amiss either....
Channel 4 does show on historical bigotry, then advertises its new show "Britain's Benefit Tenants". Um... #britainsracistelection— NativeSon (@adamec87) March 15, 2015