For the first time we start to get this idea of culture being the dividing line...


Britain joins the European Economic Community (EEC)

In 1973, Britain joins the EEC, alongside Ireland and Denmark.

The 1973 oil crisis

1973 oil crisis brings an end to Europe’s guest-worker programmes.

Multiculturalism becomes more visible, and immigration begins to become politicised.

France: An organised Far Right backlash begins

Margaret Thatcher - Britain might be ‘swamped’

During the UK’s 1979 election campaign, Margaret Thatcher adopts some of the rhetoric of the far right on the issue of immigration.

Britain joins the European Economic Community (EEC)

On January 1, 1973, the English population read of the United Kingdom's entry into the EEC on the front page of their daily newspapers. | PHOTO BY KEYSTONE-FRANCE/GAMMA-KEYSTONE VIA GETTY IMAGES

At the beginning of 1973, after nearly three decades of looking in from the outside, Britain, along with Ireland and Denmark, finally joined the European Economic Community.

Later that same year, an economic cartel on another continent would shock the world and force Europe to face its immigration challenge.

The 1973 oil crisis

Demonstration of Wingles Bsn Glass Factory employees in Paris on February 11, 1975 | PHOTO BY KEYSTONE-FRANCE/GAMMA-KEYSTONE VIA GETTY IMAGES
It was clear that the guest workers weren’t going home

A hike in the price of crude oil, following an oil embargo by the multinational oil cartel OPEC, sparked an economic crisis that was part of a wider downturn in European fortunes.

It would leave the so-called ‘guests workers’ with no work and no thought of going back to where they came from.

Governments attempt to reduce the number of foreign residents, but the number of immigrants actually rises through family reunion.

Foreign guest workers become more visible in society and now become visible local fixtures.

What caused the international energy crisis in 1973?

  • The 1973 oil crisis began in October 1973, when members of the Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) proclaimed an oil embargo.
  • The embargo was a response to American involvement in the 1973 Yom Kippur War - which was when Egypt and Syria launched a military campaign against Israel on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.
  • After the Soviet Union began sending arms to Egypt and Syria, US President Richard Nixon began to re-supply Israel with arms.
  • In response, members of OAPEC reduced their petroleum production and proclaimed an embargo on oil shipments to the United States and the Netherlands, the main supporters of Israel.
  • Though the Yom Kippur War ended in late October, the embargo and limitations on oil production continued, sparking an international energy crisis.
  • By 1974, the price of oil had risen from $3 a barrel to nearly $12 globally.
  • Despite the United State’s assumption that an oil boycott would financially hurt the Persian Gulf, the increased price of oil more than made up for the reduced production.

France: An organised Far Right backlash begins

Jean-Marie Le Pen was the taboo breaker and the big taboo was immigration.”

In France, this shift was met with an organised far right resistance that had historical foundations.

All of these different groups with different routes came together in 1972 in the National Front and one of the main leader was Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Jean-Marie Le Pen was long established in the French nationalist movement but had failed to achieve any popular success.

Many considered his views of non-European cultures as racist, with anti-Semitism a recurrent theme of his politics.

But with guest workers now seemingly a fixture of French society, Le Pen’s new National Front saw a new opportunity.

This self-proclaimed “resurgence” of far right sentiment wouldn’t just be confined to French soil.

But just as the far right looked to take advantage of favourable conditions, their ideas would achieve a victory, but leave their parties at a loss.

Margaret Thatcher - Britain might be ‘swamped’

People are really rather afraid that this country might be rather swamped by people with a different culture

In Britain, the National Front had increased its support during a decade of political and economic turmoil.

But in the run-up to the 1979 general election, Conservative Party leader Margaret Thatcher would steal the clothes of the far-right and steal a march on her rivals … including the National Front.

The Conservative Party victory in the 1979 UK general election marked a turning point in European politics.

The next decade would bring defining social and economic shifts, and lead to the far right being both embattled and emboldened.

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