IN A MONUMENTAL act of cynicism, the Tory government on Monday announced that this Friday will be designated ‘Windrush Day’ and that henceforth 22nd June, the day HMS Windrush arrived in Britian in 1948 carrying 500 migrants from the Caribbean, will be celebrated annually.
According to the Tory community minister, Lord Bourne, this annual celebration will help to ‘recognise and honour the enormous contribution’ of those who arrived from the Caribbean between 1948 and 1971 in order to rebuild a Britain that had been devastated by war.
Bourne went on to wax lyrical about how this would ‘keep their legacy alive for future generations, ensuring that we all celebrate the diversity of Britain’s history.’
To prove their new-found recognition and honour of the thousands of workers who arrived on these shores the Tories have pledged a derisory £500,000 of funding to be made available to charities and communities who want to hold commemorative and educational events.
This is an insult. The Tories are still prevaricating over compensation to those who have been detained, threatened with deportation, lost their jobs and denied benefits and access to the NHS as a result of Tory policies.
By declaring an annual Windrush Day the Tories are attempting to paper over the fact that it was they who, in 2014, deliberately set about creating a ‘climate of fear’ for every immigrant worker regardless of whether or not they had a legal right to remain and work in Britain.
It was Theresa May who, as Home Secretary at the time, presided over the implementation of the 2014 Immigration Act with its ‘deport first, appeal later’ policy. It was May who ordered the destruction of the disembarkation cards from the 50s and 60s of those arriving, cards that are vital to prove legal residency in the country.
While May was sanctimoniously preaching to the Tory conference about the need to stop being the ‘nasty party’ she and the rest of the Tory government were busy implementing a racist policy that had only one aim – to create a reign of terror amongst workers and their descendants who had lived and worked for over 50 years in Britain.
In the week that the Tories made their cynical attempt to prove to the public that they have any vestige of humanity it has emerged that their racist climate of fear extends far beyond the Windrush generation.
According to charities that deal with immigration disputes, the number of these for people from outside the Caribbean region has been steadily growing, and the Windrush scandal is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’.
British citizens of Indian, Ghanaian and Pakistani descent have all been subjected to the Tories’ ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy. Dozens of cases are now emerging of people from Commonwealth countries, who have lived and worked in Britain for decades, being threatened with deportation.
In some reported cases they have been unable to return to the country after visiting abroad because check-in-staff, following instructions, couldn’t verify their status as residents. Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: ‘These are not isolated mistakes. They are a product of the government’s “hostile environment” policy, and Theresa May’s instruction to “deport first, appeal later”. Until these end, the scandal will not go away.’
But these racist policies won’t simply go away and no amount of Windrush Days will change this fact. They were consciously introduced by the Tories in a desperate attempt to split the working class and try to divert the struggle of workers against the reign of terror the Tory government have been waging against every single worker and their families in the name of austerity to save a bankrupt British capitalist system.
The scandal Abbott talks about will not go away until this Tory government is kicked out, along with all its anti-working class racist policies, and workers advance to a workers’ government. The TUC must act to put an end to this Tory government by calling a general strike and go forward to a workers’ government that will welcome all workers from across the world as part of building a socialist society.