Windrush Sinks a Nation’s Pride

The Empire Windrush sank in 1954 .This week the Windrush Scandal sank , or at least holed below the the waterline , our sense of national pride in being a  tolerant country that treats people fairly and with respect .

If the Windrush had not been sunk long ago it would have capsized under the tidal wave of tendentious claims and blame shifting of those who were the architects of and cheerleaders for the ‘hostile environment ‘ policy .

skynews-nick-timothy-conservative_4288297Nick Timothy , the former adviser flatteringly and erroneously (the body of evidence grows by the day) described as Mrs May’s brain said :

The Windrush scandal is heartbreaking, but it should not be used as an excuse to stop sensible migration controls

The Windrush scandal is undoubtedly heartbreaking but the ‘Hostile Environment’  policy hardly falls within the category of ‘sensible’.

Blame Shifting

Mr Timothy then goes on to lay the foundations for a familiar excuse :

In 1997, when Jack Straw became Home Secretary, he sought the advice of his predecessors. One told him: “the thing about being Home Secretary is this. At any one time there are fifty sets of officials working on projects that will destroy your career. The problem is, you don’t know who they are, and they don’t either.”

The Home Office is a dangerous place for ministers because it is an operational department as much as a policy department. It is responsible for devising laws and rules, but also taking hundreds of thousands of decisions – of huge importance to the people involved – about nationality, visas, deportations and more.

As they require judgment and discretion, mistakes are sometimes…’

Or in others words , and similarly to Amber Rudd’s comments on 16 April – not me guv, it’s those hopeless Home Office Civil Servants 

Lord Kerslake , Head of the Civil Service  at the time  Mrs May set about , with characteristic steadfast determination to achieve the target of reducing net migration to the tens of thousands , on Newsnight on 19 April calmly and firmly dismissed the notion that ministers would not have had clear advice on the achievability , consequences and risks of the ‘Hostile Environment ‘policy.

So the blame shifting to the civil service doesn’t stand up . Of course I can hardly put the notion of ministerial responsibility any more clearly than Mrs May  did to Beverly Hughes after  a scandal of rather smaller proportions :DbJyy2LWsAAkCJb

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/theresa-demanded-home-office-ministers-12391956

Jacob’s Jesuitical Reasoning

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Jacob Rees Mogg with an exhibition of jesuitical reasoning which will delight the members of the European Research Group ( smart move inserting Research into the title to mask suspicions of europhobic tendencies ) has entered the fray .The MP said: “We are not the sort of country that demands to see your papers, but I’m afraid pro-Europeans think we should be,“They buy into the EU-style relationship between individual and state.“It’s a shift to the state being powerful and individual being weak.”

So the Windrush Generation are experiencing the effects of Mrs May’s ‘Hostile Environment ‘policy as a consequence of Remain supporters encouraging its introduction – the inherent lack of foundation to  this claim requires no amplification .

Mirror and the Mail United

It is an epic feat of malformed policy to unite everyone  – from the Mirror to the Mail .
There is an almost universal acceptance that what is being done to the Windrush Generation does not accord with our national sense of fair play and justice .

A Fundamental and Undeclared Change of Policy

However Mr Rees Mogg in his attempt to mislead has put his finger on a fundamental shift , and not one with widespread public or political support , from a presumption of the right to be here which did not require the production of  ‘papers’ to a requirement to produce proof of entitlement and the  right to be here .

 

The Cabinet Office attempted to play this down today , in the context of the pilot to require the production of photo id when voting in five areas :

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “We already ask that people prove who they are in order to collect a parcel from the post office, rent a car, or travel abroad.

This a masterly piece of dissembling . The statement is carefully constructed to imply the requirement is not a big deal . We are only asking you to the same as when you pick up a parcel .Leaving aside voting for the moment no one can claim that the Windrush Scandal is anything but a very big deal .

It is worth outlining the twist and turns that have brought us to this sorry state of affairs , and robbed the Windrush Generation of their sense of having every right to continue to live in the country where they have made their lives .

In 1948 the British Nationality Act was passed . This enshrined in law the principle that all British citizens should have the right to travel to and settle in the UK. There is something reminiscent of Palmerston here- Civis Britannicus Sum.

This is the time of Lord Kitchener’s song ‘London is the Place For Me ‘ performed for the cameras on the decks of the Windrush

 

 

 This was the highpoint in terms of right to travel and settle , if not in terms of how the new arrivals found life in the UK . Progressively requirements were tightened  notably in the Immigration Act 1971. In introducing controls that Act also granted those already here indefinite right to remain .

Making Life ‘Really Difficult’

The story then moves on, traumatically for those caught up in it , to Mrs May’s introduction of a ‘really hostile environment ‘ designed to make life ‘difficult for those without papers’ as she put it .
Those without papers included those of the Windrush Generation and their children who did not have passports . In a country where 9.5 million people do not have passports there was always going to be a good number of people  caught up in the hostile environment net who just should not have been there . This was totally foreseeable and avoidable . Options for mitigating the adverse effects of the Hostile Environment would have included  a cut off date which recognised the status of people who have lived their lives in the UK believing themselves to be British , as everyone else would apart from Mrs May and her advisers , or  a   low bar of proof – e.g tax records , or issuing an identity card – as has now been done for new arrivals in the form of the Biometric Residence Permit .
The last is a big step and one that most will have been unaware of until the Windrush Scandal .

The Flaw in the Policy

It is axiomatic that if you are going to have a Hostile Environment policy it should be accompanied by an Identity Strategy ie if you require people to demonstrate their right to be here you should give them the means to do so .
This is not a philosophy born of Europhilia .
It is simply applying the logic of sound administration – something that the British had a reputation for doing fairly , a reputation now sadly tarnished in the light of Mrs May’s Windrush Scandal , and we are diminished as a nation by it . We have every right to be angry with the woman and her cheerleaders who brought us to this low point . It’s time for Mrs May to follow the advice she dispensed with such conviction to Beverly Hughes .

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