About four years ago, I was returning to the UK via Luton Airport. I was struck by the number of Home Office signs on the approach to the UK Border starting with he word “NO”. I was half expecting to see signs stating “No Blacks”, “No Irish”, “No Dogs”. By the time I got to passport control, I felt ashamed and emabarrassed to be British. But never mind, my passport was the same colour as everyone elses’ in the EU Passports line, so I could merge with the crowd.
My thoughts today with the Windrush generation, I remember also the insincere PA announcement you get when a train reaches its destination. “Thank you for travelling with X today”. For X, insert your own privately owned monopoly supplier of train services – as if you had a choice.
So for the Windrush folk, we get “Thank you for choosing the UK to spend your life, work hard, bring up children and pay your taxes. Want something? Pension? Cancer treatment? Now fuck off!”
A brief history, for Daily Mail readers, who joined the fight today.
- Theresa May was Home Secretary at the time of my Luton Airport embarrassment, implementing a “hostile environment” for “illegal” immigrants. Schools, The NHS, employers, landlords and the rest were turned into Home Office police, to check the immigration status of all who dared use publicly funded services. Vans patrolled the streets of north London telling illegal immigrants to “Go Home”.
- The Guardian published stories about the plight of the Windrush generation on 01/12/2017, 21/02/2018, 22/02/2018, 10/03/2018 (the £54,000 cancer story), 22/03/2018 (May’s refusal to intervene in the cancer case), 12/04/2018, 13/04/2018 and 16/04/2018.
- 12/04/2018: Law Society says 50% of immigration cases are overturned on appeal to an independent panel. It says the system is “seriously flawed” and having a “devastating” effect on the families. Home Office said it was “meeting its targets” and some cases were “complex”. Both political decisions.
- Theresa May resisted calls from Caribbean leaders for a formal meeting with heads of the 12 countries at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting until the early hours of 16/04/2018.
- 16/04/2018 07:16 Penny Mordaunt MP says “We need to do a better job”
- 16/04/2018 12:57 Caroline Noakes MP, Immigration Minister admits “some people were deported in error”
- 15:54 Amber Rudd MP, Home Secretary, the Mini-May, is sent to the Commons to apologise and denounce May’s policy. Rudd blames her officials for getting it wrong.
- At about the same time, May announces U-turn and will hold an “informal” meeting with the 12 Caribbean heads.
A special task force is set up to clear up the mess in two weeks. Oh yeah? So that’s all right then. Except it isn’t.
So how’s about a civil disobedience campaign where everyone who is forced by law to check immigration status just stops. As Chair of Governors of a school , I’d be happy to persuade my governors to do this – as long as a few others join in: like the Poll Tax in Scotland, the government can’t fine us all.
In the meantime, here are some new words to a well-known song. All together now:
Land of “Nope” and Tory, Mother of the Free
How shall we exploit thee, those not born of thee?
Wider still and wider, may thy checks be set
May, who made thee Nasty, make thee Nastier yet
May, who made thee Nasty, Make thee Nastier yet.