The Windrush Scandal Remains Scandalous

It really is astonishing how this was ever allowed to happen; the variety and depth of both ignorance and moral bankruptcy is not only embarrassing but is an example of how general apathy or even institutional racism continues to favour white people over black people. If you haven't read about the Windrush Scandal then I thoroughly recommend you check it out on Wikipedia, for starters. In short, citizens from the British Empire, who came to Britain decades ago, who learned to integrate as NHS workers or National Rail workers, for instance, and who suffered from overt racism and discrimination, were later deemed as illegal immigrants by the Home Office and many where flown back to a country they had little to no memory of.

This year I read Amelia Gentleman's incredibly thorough book, The Windrush Betrayal, which includes very personal accounts of such people whose lives have turned completely upside-down. Some people were deported, denied cancer treatment, made homeless, or had their jobs taken away from them. It is difficult to find a government-enforced policy that is so tragically unfair.

Now, the Windrush Scandal broke in 2018, and perhaps since it has been written about and reported on lots already, there isn't anything new add. At least not from me anyway. Unfortunately, this wasn't the end of it. Since the Government were backed into apologising, and since they have introduced a compensation scheme for those affected, events in 2020 have gone some way in undermining their apologies.

Firstly, in March 2020, an independent Windrush Lessons Learned Review conducted by the inspector of constabulary concluded that Theresa May's Home Office showed an inexcusable "ignorance and thoughtlessness", and that what had happened had been "foreseeable and avoidable". It further found that immigration regulations were tightened "with complete disregard for the Windrush generation".

The hostile environment continues to create a culture of fear, ignorance and hatred.

This is damning in and of itself but what I think is so tragic is that when compared with the Macpherson Report from 1999 it looks as if the Government and its institutions have learned very little since the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993. It said that the investigation was "marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership by senior officers". This point was also made by Alexandra...

Top black member of Home Office Alexandra Ankrah quit her role in April 2020, just after the aforementioned report when she claimed that the compensation scheme, set up to sort out this whole ugly mess, was itself racist. The final straw for her was hearing of the death of Eddie Lindsay who died before receiving his compensation, which has now happened at least nine times. Alexandra say that not only was she the only senior black woman involved in the compensation scheme but that a of the other staff working in the scheme came from immigration and, as such, were not as empathetic as they were required to be.

Finally, in November 2020, the EHRC (the Equality and Human Rights Commission) released their report and confirmed that the government broke equality laws by ignoring evidence that its flagship hostile environment policy (produced prior to the Windrush Scandal) would lead to racial discrimination.

All in all, we find ourselves in a deplorable state. The government were exposed but have not been made accountable. Lives have been ruined and yet more still could be. The hostile environment spearheaded by Theresa May still continues to create a culture of fear, ignorance and hatred. Indeed, just 3 days ago The Home Office attempted to deport 50 more people back to Jamaica despite many of them having been in the UK since childhood. The intervention of major public figures helped get that number down to 13 but, clearly, we still have a long, long way to go.

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