Bussing itself was a form of social engineering initiated in about a dozen Local Education Authorities, whereby (mostly) Asian pupils from primary school age were bussed to predominantly white suburban schools. The aim was twofold :

p1070963Anti-bussing demo in Southall (1978)

first, to make sure those non-Anglophone Asians “integrate”, i. e. that they internalise the British / English way of life and above all learn enough English to get by first. Until the articulation of what was to become a very influential multicultural definition of “integration” by Roy Jenkins in 1966, the word was broadly understood in assimilationist terms by political elites. Secondly, and originally, the goal behind bussing was to placate white fears of an immigrant takeover in areas such as Southall where the number of Asians had dramatically soared in a few years.

p1070965Labour M.P. Sydney Bidwell debating with two Southall elderly ladies (1975)


Middlesex County Times and Gazette,27. 04. 1963 : the B.N.P targetting Southall in local elections, with their “Keep Southall British” slogan.

Despite the proverbial exceptions that proved the rule, bussing was a failure. One reason was that dispersed, marooned and unwelcome Asian youths faced racist bullying in schools far away from their neighbourhoods. It also confirmed to many Asians that they were lesser breeds without the law, since bussing white kids to the multi-racial inner-cities was never an option.