Socialist Worker

Windrush scandal flows from Tory racism, not just incompetence

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2601

Cameron and May in 2014 meeting with immigration officers

Cameron and May in 2014 meeting with immigration officers (Pic: Downing Street on Flickr)


Britain’s racist immigration laws lie behind the threat of deportation and loss of livelihood hanging over migrants from the “Windrush Generation”. Tory prime minister Theresa May is directly responsible.

Growing numbers of migrants from Britain’s former colonies—and their children—are feeling the full force of the Tories’ racist clampdown on immigration. They are dubbed the “Windrush Generation” after the Empire Windrush ship that brought Jamaican migrants to Tilbury in 1948.

The racist assault may have caused deaths. 

The mother of Dexter Bristol, who died last month after being sacked for having no papers, told the Guardian newspaper that she believed the stress caused by his immigration problems was responsible for his death. Bristol had been in Britain for 49 years, arriving here when he was eight.

Calling on May to resign, his mother, Sentina, said her son was the victim of the government’s “racist policies”.

Other people have been sacked—like Michael Braithwaite who lost his teaching assistant job after 15 years after an immigration check. The Home Office issued Braithwaite the right papers only after media attention.

Others have been denied life-saving medical treatment—as in the case of cancer-sufferer Albert Thompson. He was told to stump up £54,000 if he couldn’t produce the right documentation.

Outrage forced May to issue a public apology and promise that Thompson’s treatment would be restarted. Yet, in a sign of the Tories’ contempt, Thompson has not been informed about when it will be restarted.

Mayhem

His treatment is not due to the bungling, mishap or mayhem of the Tory government—but its racism.

May admitted as much last week when she said that the “issue had come to light because of measures that we introduced recently”.

As home secretary May promised to create a “hostile environment” for migrants—and delivered on it. She sent racist vans into multicultural parts of London that told people to “Go home”.

Polly McKenzie was a Special Adviser (Spad) to deputy prime minister Nick Clegg during the Tory/Liberal coalition. The “hostile environment” mission started in earnest in December 2012,” she tweeted.

“An inter-ministerial group was set up on Migrant Access To Benefits And Public Services, we called it MATBAPS.”

It wasn’t just rhetoric or spin. It was a systematic effort to target migrants and to increase racism.

“Right from the start, Theresa May’s mission was to make it systematically difficult to get by without papers,” McKenzie tweeted.

May’s response to the rise of Ukip was to give in to its anti-migrant arguments.

The Windrush affair shows the racist brutality of the Tory government and the British immigration system.

May’s apologies are not enough. We should drive her out.

The Immigration Act 2014 enshrined all of this in law by turning public sector workers and landlords into border guards.

The right wing press has hypocritically seized on the Windrush affair because it allows them to push the narrative of “good migrants” vs “bad migrants”.

They concede that the Windrush Generation built the NHS, but argue that newer migrants are a drain on resources. This is racist nonsense aimed at scapegoating European Union (EU) migrants.

The Windrush affair shows the racist brutality of the Tory government and the British immigration system.

It must be fought in its entirety.

That means taking up all the injustices against the “Windrush Generation”.

But it also means fighting to defend freedom of movement for EU migrants—and to extend it beyond Europe’s borders. It means fighting to shut down Yarl’s Wood and all the other immigration prisons, and pushing for the right of asylum seekers to come and stay for as long as they want.

And to do that we have to build a mass movement against the Tories and their racism.

Protest: Solidarity with the Windrush generation and their families, Friday 20 April, 5pm-7pm, Windrush Square, Brixton, London SW2. Details here Support "Windrush Generation" amnesty debate, Monday 30 April, 4pm-7pm, Parliament Square, London. Details here. Both hosted by Stand Up To Racism.

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