Wandering through the streets of north-west London today, I found myself noticing much more than usual, elderly people from the West Indies looking what can only be described as lost and down in the dumps. I imagine that they are most likely feeling betrayed.
Not just some ordinary betrayal but the worst of treacheries the Windrush generation have ever experienced.
Thousands answered Britain’s call for commonwealth citizens to help rebuild the UK; and thousands more before that served alongside British troops in both the first and second world wars, long before the Windrush boat had been assembled in Germany.
The government responds in UQ (urgent questions) session
The British general public, MP’s and public figures have stood behind the Windrush generation, objecting to the Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’; which has led to elderly folk losing access to public services, their homes, receiving threats of deportation, detention centres and actually being deported (how many have been deported is currently unknown).
The UQ session was triggered from a letter written by David Lammy, Labour MP. The letter was signed by 140 MPs, including 2 out of the 3 MPs from Brent; Dawn Butler, Tulip Sadiq but there was no signature from Barry Gardiner (Brent North).
David Lammy, clearly overcome by emotion (rightly so), barked:
“This is a day of national shame and it has come about because of a hostile environment policy that was begun under her prime minister.
Let us call it as it is. If you lay down with dogs, you get fleas, and that is what has happened with this far right rhetoric in this country!”
Amber Rudd, the home secretary says she is “very sorry” and later said that no one from the Windrush generation will be deported due to a lack of paperwork:
“I do not want any of the Commonwealth citizens who are here legally to be impacted in the way they have.
Frankly, some of the ways they have been treated has been wrong, has been appalling and I am sorry.
That’s why I am setting up a new area in my department to ensure that we have a completely new approach to how their situation is regularised.”
She also admitted the stories that have surfaced have been, ‘terrible to hear’. The government have confirmed that a new Home Office team will be setup to handle enquiries about Commonwealth citizens right to stay in the UK; this is available via Undocumented Commonwealth citizens resident in the UK
The government may consider compensating any applicants who have already paid fees for legal advice.
One can only imagine that Theresa May and her Government must be under some kind of hypnosis to be so callous and cold to one of the UKs most longtime patriotic groups. Let’s also think for a moment of all the untold stories of the insignificant, vulnerable, voiceless Windrushers who were here legally but have now been deported.
Image credit NIKLAS HALLE’N/AFP/Getty Images