Windrush – Tories, Labour, LibDems all guilty!

Windrush – Tories, Labour, LibDems all guilty!

The Anarchist Communist Group (ACG) comments on Windrush.

Thanks to Windrush, Amber Rudd has fallen. She became the necessary sacrifice to save the Theresa May government. She has been replaced as Home Secretary by Sajid Javid, the first Black, Asian Minority Ethnic member to sit in one of the three most important positions within the State.

Rudd was forced to resign because she was caught lying about targets for deportation and to save Theresa May herself, the previous Home Secretary.

In 2016 almost 40,000 people were removed from the United Kingdom or left “voluntarily” after receiving threatening letters. Many others have been detained at ferry terminals and airports and sent to another country under the “deport first, appeal later” process. In addition, at least 10,000 others have waited for more than six months for decisions on claiming asylum and because they cannot work, live on an allowance of £37.75 a week, which reduces them to extreme circumstances.

This hostile environment, this intimidating atmosphere did not originate under Rudd and neither did it under Theresa May. We have to go back to the Labour Party under Blair for that. In fact “hostile environment” was first used as a term in February 2010 in a Home Office report which said: “This strategy sets out how we will continue our efforts to cut crime and make the UK a hostile environment for those that seek to break our laws or abuse our hospitality.” This was the Home Office presided over by Labour Home Secretary Alan Johnson. He gloated over the destruction and clearance of the “Jungle camps” by the French authorities in 2009. When asked in Parliament “Would you deport a family whose children know no home other than the United Kingdom?” Johnson replied: “It is not my personal job to do the deportation. If that was the judgement, having gone through due process, then yes”.

It ended up with the Labour election campaign of the same year with the slogan “Controls on immigration. I’m voting Labour” on mugs and badges. And only 18 Labour MPS (including Corbyn and Diane Abbott) voted against the Immigration Act in 2014.

The hostile attitude to immigrants continued under the coalition government with the nodding complicity of the Liberal Democrats and then under the Conservatives ruling alone. Rudd escalated the policy as she had promised to the previous Home Secretary and now Prime Minister Theresa May. This was all done knowingly, with an awareness of the terrible consequences for so many working class families.

The destruction of thousands of documents related to Windrush incomers also points to a hostile environment, making it more difficult for people to prove their status.

Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry backed the checks on people looking for jobs, homes and healthcare, which were brought in by the 2014 Immigration Act. She defended Alan Johnson by saying that “The words were used but the culture was not!!

We should also recall that after the referendum on the EU in 2016, Corbyn stated on several occasions that immigration controls would remain in place under Labour. Diane Abbott went on to state that Labour did not condone an amnesty, and when questioned, remained silent on what Labour would do about illegal immigrants.

So far, the controversy has centred on Windrush migrants but already tens of EU citizens have been refused permanent residence. We should resist the attempt to divide people into “good migrants”, those who emigrated to Britain from the Commonwealth from the 1940s onwards and “bad” migrants, those from the EU. In particular Boris Johnson is pushing this line with his hard Brexit politics which envisages the re-establishment of better relations, both economic and trading with the Commonwealth countries.

So will the appointment of Javid make a blind bit of difference? The answer is a categoric NO! Many residents of the UK are under the illusion that they have the right to live in Britain. They are kept in the dark about the need to apply for “settled status” whilst others under threat include all those family dependents like children and the elderly who believe that other family members are UK citizens just because they live here!

Javid will change the language from emphasis on targets and deportations but in fact it will be business as usual. He has already been caught out after denying that any members of the Windrush generation had been illegally deported. In fact, this went beyond them and included someone originally from Somalia who was a legal British citizen. The head of Home Office Immigration, Hugh Ind, admitted that such illegal deportations had taken place and said he did not know why Javid and the immigration minister, Caroline Nokes, claimed to be unaware of this.

It should be remembered that in the past Sajid Javid has supported every aspect of the “hostile environment” policy including voting to extend powers to deport before appeal on human rights grounds.

Meanwhile members of the Windrush generation are excluded from Britain after having gone away on holiday, are interned in camps like Yarl’s Wood, are illegally deported and are harassed with threatening notices and denied work and access to health services after checks. Some have lost earnings because their employers sacked them after immigration checks.

At the same time we heard of the women who went on a hunger and work strike at Yarl’s Wood after being detained there indefinitely. In response to the strike they were issued with letters threatening them with accelerated deportation if they continued with their protest. This was all condoned and enacted by Caroline Nokes.

Capitalism and the State use racism and xenophobia to divide and weaken us. We should resist the increasing levels of racism and xenophobia that both the May regime and the mass media are peddling. We should argue against the false divide between “deserving” and “undeserving” migrants. We should mobilise against the “immigration removal centres” like Yarl’s Wood run by companies like Serco, where conditions are appalling and detainees are treated abysmally, and we should fight for the closing down of these centres.

The treatment of the Windrush generation is appalling but we can’t just say that and forget about those who have not been here for as long who are suffering the same treatment. We should not draw any difference between which refugees and immigrants we show solidarity with.

Oppose All Borders! For Internationalism!

Original article on ACG website

Comments

Mike Harman
May 13 2018 10:03

Any chance of an image that doesn't advertise the SWP? Haven't read the article yet but got completely stumped when I saw that font.

Spikymike
May 13 2018 10:46

This article reinforces the sound arguments in the above ACG text and includes a bit of introductory background history useful to some of the non-UK readers:
www.leftcom.org/en/articles/2018-05-09/windrush-scandal-reveals-the-inherent-brutality-of-capitalism

Serge Forward
May 13 2018 18:04

Cheers Spikymike.

Mike Harman, you're easily stumped. It really doesn't advertise the SWP.... well, at least it didn't until you mentioned them.

Noah Fence
May 13 2018 19:35

Come off it Serge, we know your game. The minute I opened this thread I was immediately compelled to start fumbling about in my pocket for some change to buy a paper with.

Mike Harman
May 14 2018 12:04
ACG wrote:
We should resist the attempt to divide people into “good migrants”, those who emigrated to Britain from the Commonwealth from the 1940s onwards and “bad” migrants, those from the EU.

I completely agree that the division between good and bad migrants is harmful, and we saw a tonne of pitting good 'windrush' migrants against bad non-windrush migrants, with Labour Party politicians going on about 'illegal immigrants' all the time. However I'm not sure that this division was between 'commonwealth' migrants and those from the EU really: both politicians and the media seemed to be very keen to restrict any discussion to the literal pre-1972 migrants who often even had British passports, and one or two other cases of either their children or particularly egregious cases (such as Albert Thompson) where the specifics of their undocumented status were often glossed over to fit into the 'windrush' narrative.

There has been almost zero public discussion of post-1972 migrants from the Caribbean, Nigeria, India, East Africa. The UK has funded prisons in both Jamaica and Nigeria and regularly deports people by charter flight to those countries. There's a very recent article from Base Publication which goes into some more of the immigration and detention history, particularly the '60s/'70s changes under both Labour and Tories which are central to understanding current border policies: http://www.basepublication.org/?p=665

There was however a definite pitting of EU migrants vs. commonwealth migrants during the Brexit campaign, in an attempt to gain leave votes from people by promising an immigration system that won't 'discriminate' against non-EU citizens and an attempt to divide 'settled' migrants from former-colonies from new migrants from the EU. Apart from that, I don't think we can rule out that 'commonwealth' can itself be a dog-whistle, since there is a 'white commonwealth' of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and there have been real material attempts to create trade and immigration blocks which include these but exclude Jamaica, India and other former colonies. Would absolutely expect Boris Johnson to be interested in that sort of thing, if he hasn't already argued for it, while simultaneously promising people it will be easier to bring their relatives to the UK post-Brexit from countries that would be excluded from such a scheme.

One historical addition I'd make apart from the '60s/'70s immigration acts, is the last '90s early '00s moral panic about 'asylum seekers' - where work restrictions, no recourse to public funds, David Blunkett's comments about 'swamping schools' and similar picked up pace. A little while ago I tried to figure out when the rhetorical focus when from bogus asylum seekers to EU migrants, and got to the 2005 Conservative "Are you thinking what we're thinking" campaign - not sure if that was the actual turning point but there was a general shift of focus which is further broadening when EU nationals in the UK get their right to stay removed (however exactly that happens not entirely defined yet).

Ed
May 16 2018 08:40
Serge Forward wrote:
Mike Harman, you're easily stumped. It really doesn't advertise the SWP.... well, at least it didn't until you mentioned them.

Well, it promotes an SWP front rather than the SWP itself. Ultimately, you obviously know, the fronts are used for the same reason as all their other activity, which is to funnel people in the party, so for that reason we try to avoid using pictures of their banners, posters etc. You wouldn't use a picture of people holding SWP placards so similarly we'd avoid pictures which display their front groups prominently.

It's not a big deal (and if it really can't be avoided then fine), but it's just something to bear in mind when choosing images for articles.

Spikymike
May 16 2018 14:58

So maybe the fronting photo' to the linked CWO text above was better than the AWG one but one way or the another it is ''..not a big deal'' as Ed says. Might have been better if Mike Harman had raised that issue with his much more useful second post rather than jumping in straight away without having read the opening text. I'm sure there are many other discussion threads on here more deserving of prompt Admin interjection than this one.

Mike Harman
May 16 2018 16:35
Spikymike wrote:
So maybe the fronting photo' to the linked CWO text above was better than the AWG one but one way or the another it is ''..not a big deal'' as Ed says. Might have been better if Mike Harman had raised that issue with his much more useful second post rather than jumping in straight away without having read the opening text. I'm sure there are many other discussion threads on here more deserving of prompt Admin interjection than this one.

For context the first time I saw a link to the post was from twitter, and I saw the image with the highly recognisable placards, first thinking it was some SWP-article (and wondered who the fuck on my timeline was sharing SWP articles), I then read the text associated with the image and realised it was posted on libcom.

rat
May 17 2018 07:25

Whatever the controversies are over that photo, this thread helps promote the ACG.

Serge Forward
May 17 2018 07:44

Sadly, the comments also promote the SWP!!!

As the SWP and it's front group were highly visible in the Windrush demos, then it's not so easy finding a picture from those demos without their bloody placards. Still, I selected a photo where the name of their gang wasn't visible. I'd have gotten away with it too, if it hadn't been for them pesky fontspotters!

Serge Forward
May 17 2018 07:43

Double post.

Ed
May 17 2018 08:46
Serge Forward wrote:
As the SWP and it's front group were highly visible in the Windrush demos, then it's not so easy finding a picture from those demos without their bloody placards. Still, I selected a photo where the name of their gang wasn't visible. I'd have gotten away with it too, if it hadn't been for them pesky fontspotters!

Ok, cool, we appreciate the effort at least and if you really can't find an image than it's better than nothing (though maybe you could've looked for a different type of image, like immigration police or something?) but I don't think it's helpful to put our request down to just being "fontspotters". Just like the big companies they've copied the method off, they understand the power of branding and spread their brand as wide as possible to promote themselves.

It's like the cans of Coke with people's names on it: people took photos of cans, shared them on social media and gave Coca-Cola massive amounts of free advertising, even if the 'only' thing visible was the font and not the name of the company itself.

So while we can't stop SWP/whatever front they're currently using from swamping demos with their placards, we can/should do what we can to not give them extra publicity on our limited platforms.

Serge Forward
May 17 2018 08:49

I'll bear that in mind for future posts.

Ed
May 17 2018 08:56

EDIT: Cross-post with Serge. Cheers! smile

Oh, another little editorial thing: could you try to spice up your introductions a little bit? Nothing fancy, just a sentence (or two) introducing what the article will be about. The current intro, "The Anarchist Communist Group (ACG) comments on Windrush", is a bit inward-facing as its basically limited to people a) already know ACG and b) already like what you write and want to read your stuff on other subjects.

On Facebook, we introduced the article like this (which is sort of more what we want):

Quote:
While the Windrush scandal has seen Tory heads roll, all the major parties have had their share in creating the hostile environment which created it.

You could obviously add "argues the Anarchist Communist Group (ACG)" at the end if you want to keep the name of the group in the intro.

Sorry, that was what I originally came to comment on but then saw Serge's post and responded to that and forgot what I came here to do!

Serge Forward
May 17 2018 09:58

Ok. Will bear that in mind as well.