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Use Windrush fury to turn tide over racism

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Issue 2602
The Tories misjudged the level of anger that would erupt
The Tories misjudged the level of anger that would erupt (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Theresa May and her cabinet of millionaires face a huge political crisis. We have to make sure that this moment becomes a turning point in the battle against the government and against all forms of racism.

There are real obstacles to confront, as victims of the “hostile environment” policy spearheaded by May while she was home secretary have made clear.

Sarah O’Connor moved to Britain from Jamaica and was nearly bankrupted by her treatment by the authorities.

She said the Tories had “ignited the fire of racism again”.

“I grew up with the National Front around my area,” she said. “I thought those attitudes had been stamped out. The Home Office attitude has been—send them back.”

Rudd’s removal and the Tories’ crisis are a sign of the potential to fight against racism.

The level of anger over Windrush shows that the Tories misjudged people’s acceptance of their racist laws. Their certainty that racism would strengthen the right has been shattered.

Of course, many people still agree with some deportations and immigration controls.

But when posed with the concrete situation of the cruel treatment of the Windrush Generation, people were disgusted and some fought back.


It’s led to a huge layer of people identifying with the plight of migrants, and many knowing that this was about racism, not just incompetence.

The Windrush scandal must become a watershed moment for the fight against racism.

That’s not automatic—it takes discussion, argument and campaigning.

We need more campaigns for the rights of EU nationals, for the detainees in Yarl’s Wood, Dungavel and elsewhere and against all immigration controls.

The argument must be about ceasing forced deportations all together, not that the state is removing too many people, or the wrong “type” of migrant.

We need to further develop Stand Up To Racism as a mass anti-racist campaign.

And we need to stop the growth of both state racism and the street army of the Football Lads Alliance and its offshoots.

The crisis for May is just the latest in a series of scandals to hit her government since she lost her majority a year ago.

Real struggle can finish off her rotten government.

Much of the publicity this week will be about the local elections. But voting, although important, won’t drive out the Tories.

Every protest, every demonstration, every strike can have a much bigger echo because of the gap opened up by the Windrush scandal. It’s time to go on the offensive.

It’s up to the trade unions, the Labour Party and activists everywhere to make as much of this moment as possible.

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