Tag Archives: office

Less than a week after the EHRC damned the Tories over the Windrush scandal, deportations continue

The Empire Windrush brought many people to the UK to help rebuild the country after World War II. If it had still been in service a couple of years ago, the Tories would have been trying to use it to deport them all again.

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.

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”.

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.

Counterfire continues:

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:

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.

And now – better late than never – 70 MPs and peers have also written to Patel, demanding that the flight must be cancelled:

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:

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.

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Sink, Britain, Sink: The Tories had six years to fix the UK’s flood defences and failed

Builth Wells: This mid-Powys town stood at a relatively high altitude – and under a considerable amount of water in February 2020.

The Environment Agency will have to resort to pumps and temporary flood barriers to ensure thousands of homes are protected this winter, it has been revealed.

According to the National Audit Office,

the Government awarded the Environment Agency £120m extra funding to repair [last year’s] damage, but the Agency will only complete 80 per cent of the work before the end of this year.

This means

one in five damaged flood defences will not be repaired in time for this winter’s stormy weather.

Oh, I know. There’s been a huge crisis to do with a pandemic disease called Covid-19 since the last floods, and it has been taking all the cash that’s available and slowing down maintenance work such as this.

That would be a good excuse.

But the simple fact is that successive Tory governments have had more than six years to stop our homes from flooding and they simply couldn’t be bothered.

To them, it’s a waste of money to take preventative action – even though the cost of fixing the damage is, cumulatively, far more.

I explained the problem in This Site, waaaaaaay back in 2014 [boldings mine, at time of writing this]:

This is a result of bad planning – by water and sewerage companies that have failed to implement successful drainage schemes or to divert floodwater from rivers in order to prevent overflow, and by planning authorities that have allowed housing to be built in the wrong place.

We live in a country where management of the water supply went into private hands several decades ago. When that happened, it became impossible to have any kind of integrated plan to deal with the supply of water, droughts, floods and storage. Water supply became a commodity to be bought and sold by rich people according to the golden rules of capitalism: Invest the minimum; charge the maximum.

So reservoirs have been sold off to foreign water companies, meaning we have no adequate response to droughts. None have been built, meaning we have no adequate response to floods. Concerns about river flooding have been neglected. There has not been the investment in extraction and storage of floodwater that repeated incidents over the last few years have demanded.

The government is reducing its budget for handling these issues. Not only that, but it is delaying implementation of a new policy on drainage.

In short, there is no joined-up thinking.

There will be no joined-up thinking in the future, either – unless the situation is changed radically.

Meanwhile, the cost racked up by the damage is huge – in ruined farmland, in ruined homes and possessions, and blighted lives. And what about the risk of disease that floodwater brings with it? The NHS in England is ill-equipped to deal with any outbreaks, being seriously weakened by the government-sponsored incursions of private, cheap-and-simple health firms.

Something has to give beneath the weight of all this floodwater. Change is vital – from commercial competition to co-operation and co-ordination.

Privatisation of water has failed. It’s time to bring it back under public control.

Is anyone opposed?

It turns out that a majority were not. Reversing the privatisation of water and restoring a joined-up policy is supported by most of the UK’s voting population, according to polls.

In 2012, it was said that 71 per cent of voters wanted renationalisation. By 2018 this had risen to 83 per cent.

But millions of people voted Conservative at the ballot box so water has remained in private hands and the government has refused to stump up the cash to pay for what has become an annual – and therefore predictable – disaster.

The Environment Agency reckons it has a strategy to “build up the resilience of millions more homes and businesses” in the coming years.

What happens if the Tories strip away the funding for it?

Source: Damaged flood defences won’t be repaired in time for this winter’s storms

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‘Starve a kid to save a quid’ Tories face surging campaign of ’empty-plate’ protests

Perhaps they thought we would forget. If so, they thought wrong.

Conservative MPs who voted to starve children whose families have been plunged into poverty as a result of their selfish policies are being made to face the realities of their decisions, with scores of paper plates, empty apart from messages of condemnation, delivered to their constituency offices.

They aren’t likely to make a fuss about it, as they did about social media condemnation, for a simple reason: they can hide the evidence and pretend it hasn’t happened.

So This Site recommends that anybody laying out a plate protest at their Tory’s constituency office take photographs of it and put them on Facebook, Twitter and your favourite other social media.

That’s what people in Brecon and Radnorshire did when they launched a plate protest against local Tory MP Fay Jones, who voted to starve children in England even though those in her own constituency will receive meals over the holidays, courtesy of the Labour-run Welsh Government.

An initial set of plates was put out yesterday morning (October 29) and looked like this:

But when more people arrived to add to the protest later, all of this original set had disappeared – cleared away by Tories who were desperate to pretend there was nothing to see, it seems.

So they put down some more:

This site knows of two protests over the weekend.

One is at Pemberton Conservative Club.

The other is at the Con Club in Leigh.

The explanatory information makes chilling reading:

“In a country that rates 8th in the world for military spending, cutting free school meals during a pandemic impoverishing working class children is totally unacceptable and shows the cruel and callous attitude of the current government towards its own citizens.

“This is a political party which is completely out of touch and has shown nothing but contempt for the electorate that trusted them with power in 2019.

“We will stand in solidarity as a community to oppose this form of state-inflicted cruelty against those who are most vulnerable in society.

“After 10 years of austerity we will not agree that normal people should be the ones to suffer, especially children. We demand this government reverses its decision to end free school meals.”

Plate protests are taking off across the country, as these news reports show:

Plate protest at MP’s office

Empty plate protest outside Wrexham office of Sarah Atherton MP after vote against school meals extension

Paper plate protest at Walsall MP’s office as free school meals row rages on

Paper plates sent to west Dorset MP, Chris Loder, in protest

Empty plate protest over Norwich MP’s vote not to extend free school meals

‘Plate protest’ to be held outside under fire MP Selaine Saxby’s office

Falmouth MP Cherilyn Mackrory empty plate protest at office

Paper plates stuck to Walsall MP’s office in protest over free school meals row

‘Empty plate’ protests held outside Nottingham Conservative Party offices

We aren’t forgetting.

We aren’t going away.

Will you come and use a paper plate to have your say?

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Corrupted morals: men who allegedly toppled Colston statue to be punished but Priti Patel goes free

Over it goes: the toppling of the Colston statue, back in June. By a curious coincidence, nobod involved in pulling it down could be seen in this image.

People who toppled – and then sank – a statue glorifying slavery during the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the summer are to be offered a bizarre punishment.

The five, who pulled down the statue of slaver Edward Colston in Bristol, will have to pay a fine that would go to a charity supporting people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities in Bristol – which is more than Colston ever did.

They will also have to complete a questionnaire by Bristol City Council’s history commission, explaining their reasons for attacking an exploiter who considered black and minority ethnic people to be property during a week of protests against their mistreatment.

That’s going to be an uncomfortable read for these history commissioners.

This Writer would be unsurprised if every answer contained harsh criticism of them for even asking such a stupid question.

Worse still is the fact that four more people – three men and a woman – may face criminal charges over the incident:

Avon and Somerset police said its investigation had been completed.

It said: “Following a review of the evidence, detectives will now approach the Crown Prosecution Service for a charging decision against four people – three men, aged 32, 25 and 21, and a 29-year-old woman.”

Meanwhile, the Home Office is reportedly resuming deportation of asylum-seekers after it was prevented from sending a flight to Spain a few weeks ago.

Lawyers for the deportees demonstrated that the government had rushed the flight in order to deny the refugees their right to appeal.

It’s a direct correlation with the attitude of slavers like Colston, who also refused to allow foreign people any rights.

So we have to ask ourselves:

Who should really be explaining their actions – the protesters who tore down a statue of a historic slaver, or Priti Patel, the home secretary who treats people like slaves today?

Source: Men allegedly involved in toppling of Colston statue offered cautions | UK news | The Guardian

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Johnson lies again: he said ‘huge numbers’ were returning to work to make a news headline

Contempt: every time Boris Johnson lies on the TV news, he is signalling the scorn in which he holds every ordinary citizen of the United Kingdom.

How does Boris know ‘huge numbers’ of people are returning to their workplaces and offices? He doesn’t.

But that’s what he said at a cabinet meeting yesterday (Tuesday) – and the only reason This Writer can find for it is that he wanted to get some optimistic words on the TV news so badly that he made them up.

It worked, too. Here‘s the BBC:

Mr Johnson was addressing ministerial colleagues at the start of the first Cabinet meeting since the Parliamentary summer break.

He said people were going back to the office “in huge numbers” and this ‘incredible country” was getting back on its feet.

Click on the link and you’ll see video as well. So much for Tim Davie’s demand for political impartiality!

Here’s the more logical view, courtesy of the Mirror:

Boris Johnson has claimed that people are “returning to the office across the country in huge numbers” – but isn’t able to give us any proof.

Mr Johnson made the unverified claim as his Cabinet met before Parliament was due to return on Tuesday afternoon following the summer recess.

But pressed on the details of this mass return to office blocks, Downing Street was unable to provide any evidence.

As far as Johnson is concerned, he has succeeded: job done.

Because there are plenty of Tory adherents up and down the UK who will swallow everything this serial liar feeds them.

Source: Boris Johnson claims ‘huge numbers’ of people are returning to offices with no evidence – Mirror Online

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Did Boris Johnson axe international development department so he could misuse its cash?

Boris Johnson can’t be trusted with cash: he seems to give it to his friends whenever he can – and the fear is that he’ll do it with the budget of the soon-to-be-scrapped Department for International Development.

Boris Johnson is being urged to forget his plan to scrap the Department for International Development on the grounds that money would go to the wrong nations.

The DfID is being merged with the Foreign Office but whereas the DfID has spent a majority of its budget in the poorest countries and has a reputation for transparency, the same cannot be said for the FO – especially under Boris Johnson.

When he was Foreign Secretary (between 2016-2018), it was in the middle of spending £84 million on China – which can hardly be said to require aid.

Indeed, 39 per cent of FO cash has gone to higher- and middle-income nations, with just 22 per cent going to the poorest countries.

The facts of the matter have only just been revealed, so it seems the FO can get away with hiding its spending – handy if you want to hand public cash to your mates.

So the question is:

Is Johnson scrapping the DfID so he can appropriate its money and give it to his dodgy contacts in foreign countries, in the same way he has handed billions of pounds of Covid-related cash to firms run by his cronies, who have provided nothing in response?

And, if that is even the suspicion:

Shouldn’t the plan to scrap the DfID be itself scrapped – to avoid trust in the government collapsing even more than it already has?

Source: Boris Johnson ‘can’t be trusted’ on foreign aid as millions sent to China revealed – Mirror Online

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‘Loudmouthed lawyers’ jibe shows it’s the Home Office that doesn’t know when to shut up

Devilish advocate: Priti Patel has set her Home Office against the rule of law.

What unbelievable arrogance from “a government source” – as quoted, we’re told, in The Times.

After the Home Office was forced to withdraw a video tweet referring to “activist lawyers”, that was posted in retaliation after solicitors prevented Priti Patel’s thugs from illegally – mark that word – deporting 23 asylum-seekers without appeal, what did the Tory government have to say for itself?

Here:

“There’s a bunch of particularly loudmouthed lawyers and barristers who seem to spend more time on social media than representing their clients.”

This is arrogant disregard of the rule of law.

Perhaps the “government source” who said this should be named and removed from Whitehall to a place where they can do no more harm.

Ms Patel should be rushing to Whitehall, to deliver a grovelling public apology to the lawyers mentioned – who can all be identified very easily – and to the nation.

Really, she should be resigning as she has clearly allowed standards at the Home Office to fall far below what is expected in a government department.

Not only has this matter been a scandal but it has also been revealed that the Windrush Compensation Scheme is being bungled because Home Office officals have an “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race”.

Patel is responsible; unlike wealth, this is an instance where the “trickle-down effect” really does work and, as the novelist Henry Fielding implied in the 1740’s, the poison seeps down from the top.

But Patel won’t go. Her kind believe they are entitled to their bare-faced, flaunting immorality.

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Did ‘activist lawyers’ tell Home Office its Windrush compensation scheme was a disaster, too?

The Empire Windrush brought many people to the UK to help rebuild the country after World War II. If it had still been in service a couple of years ago, the Tories would have been trying to use it to deport them all again.

How unfortunate for the Home Office that it should fall foul of the lawyers twice in one day.

Or is it perhaps a sign of the Johnson government’s disregard for the law?

The Tory government’s much-maligned Windrush Compensation Scheme has been trashed by – one would expect – activist lawyers from no fewer than nine separate firms.

They say it is failing to provide access to justice – a claim that can only have gained validity after it was revealed that the HO tried to rush-deport 23 people illegally, because it had not allowed them their right to appeal.

The – activist – lawyers also said that while the Windrush scandal traumatised its victims, the compensation scheme is only worsening the trauma.

The HO has already confirmed that at least five people who applied for compensation died before receiving it.

Lawyers say they have experienced significant delays and difficulties filing claims for clients who were wrongly classified as illegal immigrants and lost their jobs, housing or pensions as a result.

The letter says many applications appear to be “appear to be lost in a kind of bureaucratic limbo”, with some people forced to wait more than a year for decisions.

Look at this:

The decision to put the Home Office in charge of processing of claims was particularly problematic, they write, given the criticisms of the department made in Wendy Williams’ official inquiry into the scandal. Williams’ report identified a “culture of disbelief and carelessness” within the Home Office and “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race”.

And now let’s all remember that the Home Office is carrying out its own inquiry into the death of refugee Mercy Baguma. What chance does justice have in a “culture of disbelief and carelessness” with “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race”?

Coincidentally (or is it?) yesterday HO permanent secretary Matthew Rycroft announced:

Perhaps inevitably, this was one of the responses:

Source: Windrush payout scheme not fit for purpose, say lawyers | Windrush scandal | The Guardian

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Home Office deletes “fascist Dad’s Army” ‘migrants’ clip released after it was forced to abandon deportation flight

It seems there was more to the Home Office’s video clip about “activist lawyers” than met the eye – and that was already pretty bad.

Apparently the government had been forced to abandon a deportation flight to Spain after last-minute legal challenges meant all 23 passengers had to be allowed off the plane.

It seems that HO had tried to rush through the deportations fast, in order to deny these asylum-seekers the right to appeal; that would be breaking the law. All the lawyers did was insist that these people be allowed their legal rights.

In response, the government department released the tweet attacking “activist lawyers” who “delay and disrupt returns”.

So it seems the line saying, “Soon we will no longer be bound by EU laws and can negotiate our own return arrangements,” was an attempt to taunt those lawyers.

That was a mistake. It provoked complaints – some of them from the lawyers who carry out these actions.

So now the tweet has come down and HO permanent secretary Matthew Rycroft has issued instructions that the term “activist lawyers” should not be used again.

The most effective complaint seems to have come from the economist Jonathan Portes. This Site has huge respect for this gentleman, going back to discussions of the UK economy here many years ago.

He posted a thread showing part of the response he received:

Later, he added this:

By this time, some of the lawyers concerned had already taken to Twitter to put their side of the story across – and it makes interesting reading:

It’s another own-goal for Boris Johnson’s Tory government – and the Home Office that Johnson insists must be run by Priti Patel.

Source: Home Office wrong to refer to ‘activist lawyers’, top official admits | Home Office | The Guardian

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Home Office ‘migrants’ clip: “It’s like Dad’s Army but WE’RE the fascists”

Priti Patel: I was going to paint a Hitler-style moustache on her upper lip but let’s be honest – there’s no need.

[Note: The Home Office has taken down the offending tweet. However, that’s no reason not to know what was in it. Let’s discuss:]

Priti Patel’s Home Office has taken a (goose) step too far with it’s latest anti-migrant video.

It says – well, see for yourself:

Wow.

The graphic really is like the opening titles of Dad’s Army, but the message is perverse.

Behind graphics reminiscent of the old TV sit-com, that represented the UK’s older (and younger) citizens fending off the Nazi hordes, the Home Office comes across as having been taken over by the Nazis,

“We are working to remove” – take note of that language, remove. It means the Home Office is sending people back to the home countries they fled to seek asylum in the United Kingdom – “migrants with no right to remain in the UK”. Migrants like Mercy Baguma who, rather than being removed, was starved to death in her Glasgow home after the Home Office removed her right to remain but then did nothing, leaving her in limbo without any way of feeding herself?

“But current return regulations” to which the UK signed up “are rigid and open to abuse…” If they’re “rigid”, then it shouldn’t be possible to abuse them; they’d mean one thing only. Is it not more likely that the current regulations simply don’t allow the Home Office (as run by Priti Patel) to just kick people out willy-nilly?

“… Allowing activist lawyers” – activist? Activist? Apparently an “activist” is a person who campaigns to bring about political and social change. The use of the word suggests that this is a bad thing. But if the current regime is keen to expel innocent people to an uncertain future – on the basis of questionable information (what are the facts on which the Home Office seeks to deport these people, anyway?) then it seems to me that political and social change is not only desirable but demanded.

“… to delay and disrupt returns…” Good for them!

Then it starts to get really sinister: “Soon we will no longer be bound by EU laws and can negotiate our own return arrangements.” Doesn’t this suggest that the Tory-run Home Office, overseen by Priti Patel, is looking forward to the freedom to treat Johnny Foreigner with extreme prejudice? To treating migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers as people with no rights at all?

I fear for the future of anyone falling into the clutches of such a regime. Fascism comes very strongly to mind.

Of course, we are British – and the clip is already getting the treatment it deserves:

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