The UK’s Windrush Immigrant Scandal

Photo by EU2017EE Estonian Presidency | CC BY 2.0

The late Syed Hussein Alatas (1928-2007), a multi-faceted social theorist and Malaysia’s most distinguished intellectual, coined the Malay neologism “jadong” to describe a certain type of politician.

“Jadong” is a concatenation of the parts of three words– “jahat” (wicked or evil) + bodoh (stupid) + sombong (arrogant).  The English equivalent of “jadong” would be “evistuarr”, that is, evil + stupid + arrogant.

“Evistuarr” perfectly describes the UK prime minister Theresa May.

May’s most recently disclosed piece of skullduggery was her policy while Home Secretary (i.e. interior minister) in 2014 of creating a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants, while at the same time introducing targets for reducing immigration.

Ensnared in this heartless policy is the so-called “Windrush generation”.    The steamer Windrush arrived in London in 1948, bringing several hundred workers and their families from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands, as a response to the UK’s post-war labour shortages.

Coming from British colonies that had not achieved independence, many of the Windrush generation believed they were British citizens by right.

In 2010, landing cards belonging to Windrush migrants were destroyed by the Home Office, so they now had no official proof of their legal arrival in London. Those Windrush migrants visiting the Home Office to clarify their status were carted off summarily to detention centres as part of the Tory “hostile environment” policy.

In a well-publicized recent case, the son of a Windrush migrant was presented with a bill of GBP 54,000 ($74,000) for his cancer treatment because he could not prove to his London hospital that he was a UK citizen.

There was public outrage at these disclosures, and the Tory government was soon on the back foot with the typical prevarication and bluster it resorts to on such occasions.

The home secretary at the time of these disclosures, Amber Rudd– better known in social media as Amber Rudd(erless)—denied she had prior knowledge of the targets that were part of the “hostile environment” policy.  A leaked memo from her department showed that this was simply not true, and it was clear that Rudd(erless) had misled parliament in issuing this denial.

Another person who was bound to have knowledge of all the above was of course Theresa May.  She had after all been the architect of the “hostile environment” policy!

Rudder(less) resigned her ministerial position, primarily to shield her evistuarr boss.

The Tories tried to staunch the bleeding ensuing from the Windrush scandal by saying the “hostile environment” policy would be discarded straightaway, that the Windrush migrants and their children  would be granted immediate citizenship, and that they would be compensated for any hardship they had incurred.

The Tories are however not to be trusted on any aspect of immigration.

This was made clear by events after the resignation of Rudd(erless).

The Labour opposition just tabled a parliamentary motion to make available to the public official documents relating to the Windrush scandal when evistuarr May was home secretary.  In the vote on this motion the Tories enforced a party-line vote on their MPs and were able to defeat Labour’s motion with their parliamentary majority.

So, the Windrush cover-up will continue.

Replacing the maladroit Rudd(erless) is Sajid Javid, an ex-banker and fan of Ayn Rand who calls himself a “second-generation immigrant”.

Someone needs to send Javid a dictionary that, hopefully, will inform him that an immigrant can by definition only be “first generation” — someone born in the UK, like Javid, is not an immigrant of any kind, whether it be of a second or a hundredth generation.

Javid is descended from an immigrant, like I happen to be from people who arrived in the British Isles in the late 1600s, but alas for Javid no one is ever a “second generation immigrant”.

Javid’s claim to be an “immigrant” of whatever generation is merely symbolic in its likely outcomes, since guess what?  He voted for the “hostile environment” policy in 2014!  His parliamentary voting records also reveals the following:

Voting against banning detention for pregnant immigrants as well as the extension of deportation powers.

Voting to make it an offence to rent to those without a right to rent and for migrant status checks when opening a bank account.

Voting to restrict legal support for failed asylum seekers and illegal migrants.

Voting to establish criminal offences for renting a property, driving, and working, while disqualified from doing so due to immigration status.

Voting to repeal the Human Rights Act.

Javid’s father came to England from Pakistan with hardly any money and became a bus driver.  Under Tory immigration policy he would never have been let in, though his upwardly mobile son is not fazed by this–  the son is on record as saying that immigration should be based on the migrant’s skills.

Javid, of whom I’ve written before in CounterPunch, is a shady character who was managing director of Deutsche Bank before he entered politics.

Deutsche Bank’s corporate rap sheetwhile he was involved with DB is pages long.  A wheeze Javid got up to in DB was to devise an offshore tax avoidance scheme where he could channel his ample bonuses.

When asked by journalists about this, Javid hastens away with an alacrity that would do Usain Bolt proud in an Olympic race.  He’s of course denied culpability for all DB malfeasance when he was on its board of directors.

Javid has also voted 16 times in parliament against a tax on bankers’ bonuses, which, as expected, are out of all proportion to what is earned by ordinary Brits.

Javid is a landlord, and has voted against proposed legislation making it illegal for landlords to rent property that is unfit for human habitation.  He also voted to reduce the disability benefit.

When appointed to take over from Rudd(erless), Javid said the hugely discredited policy of a “hostile environment” (remember, he voted for it) for immigrants would be replaced immediately by a “compliant environment”.

Umm. “Compliant environment” happens to be code that every UK right-winger understands when it comes to restricting immigration and making things hard for legal immigrants.

Further evidence of where Javid actually stands on the Windrush scandal came early—he voted for the cover-up of Home Office documents on the Windrush generation during evistuarr May’s time as Home Secretary.

I don’t know whether Javid is a fan of The Who, but if he is, he’d be familiar with this lyric from one of their famous songs: “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”.

Given this “second-generation” immigrant’s viperish parliamentary voting record, the old racist evistuarr Tory boss is always going to run the show when it comes to immigration.

Kenneth Surin teaches at Duke University, North Carolina.  He lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.