Socialist Worker

March for Windrush Generation reveals outrage at Tories’ racist migration policies

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2603

Protesters marched from Downing Street to the Home Office on a protest demanding justice for the Windrush Generation

Protesters marched from Downing Street to the Home Office on a protest demanding justice for the Windrush Generation (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Some 500 people marched in London to demand justice for the Windrush Generationon on Saturday.

The demonstration moved from Downing Street to the Home Office. 

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott spoke to the crowd before the march set off.

“I’m here to show my solidarity with the Windrush generation and to say how pleased I am to see Amber Rudd’s resignation,” she said. “She didn’t resign because she was sorry—she resigned because she had to.”

Speaker after speaker called for Theresa May, the architect of the now-infamous “hostile environment” policy, to resign.

That policy has meant people have been fired from jobs, have had their benefits stopped, and have faced detention in immigration removal centres.

Yvonne Williams spoke about how she has been “locked up in Yarl’s Wood twice. I have grandchildren here and these people are treating me like I was nothing.”

Another former detainee, Simone Bailey, spoke about how people were deported. “When charter flights were due, guards would rip people out and beat them,” she said.

She talked about how people with serious medical problems would go untreated.

This is the real face of Theresa May’s “hostile environment”. She must be forced out.

The march tapped into the mood of outrage at the treatment of a specific group of migrants. Now that mood needs to be pushed outward to include all migrants and refugees.

Hoping

Around 300 people also marched in Birmingham. The Tories are hoping the anger will die down—it’s vital it doesn’t.

Lawyer Jackie Mackenzie is representing some of the people affected by the scandal. She described that, despite the Tories’ protestations, people are still facing brutal and bureaucratic treatment.

“It’s not straightforward,” she said. “You still have to fill out forms and give your life stories. The system is fundamentally flawed.

“We think hundreds of thousands of people could be affected.”

A motion in parliament that called on the government to release documents relating to the Windrush scandal was voted down on Wednesday. Disgracefully newly-appointed home secretary Sajid Javid voted against the motion, as did 305 other Tory MPs.

New revelations keep emerging as the full impact of Theresa May’s “hostile environment” for undocumented migrants becomes clear.

On Friday it emerged that Windrush migrants may end up with “significantly lower” state pensions than other people. This is because access to benefits is intentionally made difficult for migrants.

David Rosenberg from the Jewish Socialists Group said on Saturday, “When the majority is with us, that’s when the British government gets really scared.

“The Windrush generation were brought here under the label of “desirable”. How disgraceful is it that they are being treated as “undesirable”.

Cathy from Lewisham spoke to Socialist Worker about why she came on the demonstration.

“It’s 40 years since we fought the National Front out of south east London,” she said.

“I felt it was my duty to come here. My mum’s 81, she came here and brought us. She thought it was her home. I’m outraged to hear that wasn’t the case.

Anti-racists will oppose the racist Democratic Football Lads Alliance in central London tomorrow, as they demonstrate with Nazi Tommy Robinson. Join the demonstration if you can—2pm at Downing Street. See the Facebook event page for details.

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