It is ironic that the Conservative government’s own review of its behaviour in the Windrush Scandal was called Lessons Learned, considering its plan for a mass deportation to Jamaica tomorrow (December 2) shows that the Tories have learned nothing.
The Home Office failed to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) under the Equality Act 2010 when implementing Theresa May’s “hostile environment” strategy, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Why is this not headlined "Conservatives in unlawful breach of racial discrimination laws, says EHRC"? https://t.co/mv4qxysvqq
— CrémantCommunarde#ActivistLawyer ⚖️ 🌻 ✋ (@0Calamity) November 25, 2020
May’s plan, which commenced in 2012, was originally intended to make staying in the UK as difficult as possible for illegal immigrants – people who do not have leave to remain, in the hope that they would leave of their own accord.
But the policy’s severe harm to members of the so-called Windrush generation – whose documents showing that they were allowed to stay in the UK were destroyed by May’s Home Office shortly after she took over responsibility for it in 2010 – was ignored, dismissed and disregarded, despite the fact that the Home Office was warned about it repeatedly.
Perhaps part of the responsibility for this lies in the fact that the Tory government, obsessed with outsourcing work to private, profit-making firms, told landlords, banks, doctors and employers to carry out ID checks and report people who lacked adequate documentation.
As a result, thousands of people – yes, thousands – were denied access to health care, benefits and housing, before being deported illegally.
Engagement with representatives of the Windrush generation – people who came to the UK, mostly from Jamaica, to help rebuild the country after World War Two, after the government of the day promised to allow them to settle here (see the 1948 Nationality Act) – was limited.
Most of the government’s Windrush victims are still awaiting compensation.
Some have died before receiving it.
The EHRC report said the consequences – which have included several deaths – were “foreseeable and avoidable” and the organisation’s interim chair, Caroline Waters, said the treatment of the Windrush Generation was “a shameful stain on British history”.
Windrush Scandal A 'Shameful Stain On British History', Says Equality Commission | HuffPost UKhttps://t.co/FLxKBUHgjp
— Samuel Miller (@Hephaestus7) November 25, 2020
This Counterfire article is damning in its condemnation of the policy:
Dehumanisation and discrimination are built into the very concept of the ‘hostile environment’. For the Tories, the purpose of the policy was twofold: to divert growing anger at their austerity policies and to undercut the rise of far-right rivals like Ukip by appropriating their unabashedly dehumanising and racist ideology.
That’s right – the Tories under Theresa May adopted a deliberately racist ideology. And the policy of dehumanising victims was taken directly from the Nazi playbook, as Jews know very well from bitter experience.
The lives of migrants and ethnic minorities are routinely exploited and endangered for the political gain of those in power in this way. This is not recognised in the EHRC report, which is only able to recommend a set of vague rectifications that rely heavily on the government’s good will, such as the recommendation for the Home Office to ‘prioritise and act early’ on its Equality Act duties.
The Home Office under current Home Secretary Priti Patel has made a public commitment to avoid any similar events occurring.
So it is strange that Ms Patel is determined to force as many as 50 more people out of the UK – including another member of the Windrush generation – in a specially-chartered flight tomorrow:
NEWS: And it's officially confirmed. The @ukhomeoffice are planning a pre-Christmas mass deportation of Black British residents to Jamaica on 2nd December. Despite #COVID19 risks they think that they have capacity to deport 50 people on the flight. #Jamaica50 @DetentionAction pic.twitter.com/lC7AcxDzig
— Bella Sankey (@BellaSankey) November 24, 2020
Immediately after it was revealed that the flight was taking place, no fewer than 82 BAME celebrities wrote to six airlines known to have carried out such flights, begging them to reject contracts to carry out any more. It is not known which airline has been engaged to carry out tomorrow’s flight.
Signatories included the author Bernardine Evaristo, model Naomi Campbell, historian David Olusoga and actors Naomie Harris and Thandie Newton, as well as lawyers, broadcasters and NGO chiefs. Leading Windrush campaigners including Michael Braithwaite and Elwaldo Romeo also signed.
Black public figures urge airlines not to carry out Home Office deportation | Home Office | The Guardianhttps://t.co/6xjYnWZTwN
— Samuel Miller (@Hephaestus7) November 27, 2020
And now – better late than never – 70 MPs and peers have also written to Patel, demanding that the flight must be cancelled:
The Government is doing little more than pay lip service to righting wrongs and correcting injustices. I’ve coordinated a letter asking @pritipatel @ukhomeoffice to #StopThePlane and stand alongside nearly 70 MPs and peers calling for Wednesday's flight to be cancelled #Jamaica50 pic.twitter.com/eV2DPtMo4l
— Clive Lewis MP (@labourlewis) November 30, 2020
The letter, co-ordinated by Labour’s Clive Lewis, states:
You have previously committed to ‘righting the wrongs’ concerning the Windrush scandal. But eight months after the Windrush Lessons Learned Review was published, the recommendations have still not been fully implemented, it adds.
“Planning a pre-Christmas deportation flight demonstrates that the Home Office has so far failed to learn any lessons.”
The letter also highlights the threat posed by Covid-19 to anybody being forcibly deported:
“The conditions of deportation, such as shackling detainees to ushers for long journeys in potentially cramped conditions, risk exposing people to the virus,” the letter reads, adding that Black people are already at an increased risk of contracting coronavirus.
And there is the more tangible threat of deportees suffering harm or death at the hands of the authorities when they arrive at their destination:
“We know that five UK deportees were killed between 2018 and 2019. Some people in detention have scars from past abuse in Jamaica, or siblings who have been murdered.”
Strangely, Labour leader Keir Starmer has not signed the letter – nor have 12 of his front benchers. They are: Angela Rayner, Anneliese Dodds, Nick Thomas-Symonds, Lisa Nandy, Ed Miliband, Jon Ashworth, Rosena Allin-Khan, David Lammy, Jess Phillips, Rachel Reeves, Wes Streeting and Yvette Cooper. Are we to conclude that these MPs approve of the Tories’ racism?
On the other hand, one of the signatories is former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn:
Let us not forget, as you get outraged:@JeremyCorbyn was one of the few who voted against the act that led to the Windrush Scandal – a ‘shameful stain on British history’.
Such a bastard, eh? Or, maybe, not the man the MSM & anti-Corbyn mob have led you to believe him to be. pic.twitter.com/7tqZVYRCb6
— James Foster (@JamesEFoster) November 24, 2020
Centrists love to point out how many times Jeremy Corbyn has voted against the Labour whip. They're less keen to talk about why.
In 2014, Labour MPs were whipped to abstain on Theresa May's Immigration Bill.
Corbyn broke the whip to vote against it.https://t.co/PC9gW8rddn
— Frank Owen's Legendary Paintbrush (@WarmongerHodges) November 25, 2020
There is absolutely no doubt that the Conservative government’s racist deportations of people who have every right to remain in the UK should stop. This Writer also has absolutely no doubt that they won’t.
Priti Patel’s record marks her out as a vicious racist who delights in dehumanising and tormenting others.
It is sad to see that she faces no opposition from the so-called Opposition front bench.
But we should remember that the people who have opposed this obscenity are those who have been vilified by the Tory Establishment and their lackeys in the mainstream media. They have lied to us; they are not to be trusted.
And we need to find better ways to oppose them.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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