When the Windrush blows
April 20, 2018 7:57 AM   Subscribe

Last week's Commonwealth Games brought a warm glow to many viewers in the "Home Countries" of the UK, but for those with ties to the wider Commonwealth it was a reminder of the chill now surrounding them. This week, stories of elderly members of the Windrush generation (named for the ship that brought the first post-war West Indian migrants to Britain in 1948) being dismissed from their jobs, denied NHS care, refused reentry to Britain, and even deported to countries they hadn't visited since childhood, brought the consequences of former Home Secretary Theresa May's "hostile environment" for undocumented migrants into the full view of the British public and press, after years of warnings from lawyers, reporters, MPs and the people affected.

Under pressure in Parliament, current Home Secretary Amber Rudd apologised, and now-Prime Minister Theresa May eventually followed suit, but such apologies ring hollow when we know that the government was told about the impact of May's policy two general elections and one divisive referendum ago. On Tuesday it emerged that in 2010, landing cards that had been routinely used to check Windrush generation claims had been destroyed—a decision made by the UK Border Agency in 2009, under the previous Labour government, but carried out while May was Home Secretary.

The consequences of such actions can be and have been profound. Windrush generation children came to the UK as British citizens, but many lack the documentation that the Home Office now requires of them, either because it was lost or was never collected or issued in the first place (having been wholly unnecessary in the many years beforehand). A clause protecting longstanding Commonwealth residents (such as Windrush generation residents) from enforced removal was removed from the 2014 Immigration Act, allowing the Home Office to deport longstanding residents en masse to Jamaica. Even some of her fellow government ministers considered May's immigration policy "almost reminiscent of Nazi Germany".

The Cameron government's cuts to Legal Aid in 2013 contributed to the problems undocumented migrants faced. Immigration lawyers can point out, for example, that current Home Office advice is wrong: Windrush migrants don't need evidence of UK residency for every year since 1973 (when Commonwealth rights to move freely to Britain were altered), but instead since 1988, when laws around Indefinite Leave to Remain changed. The difference this makes can be seen in the case of Dexter Bristol, who was asked to provide school records from the 1960s and 1970s which were long gone, and "spent the last year of life trying to untangle his immigration situation, repeatedly attempting and failing to get the Home Office to acknowledge that he was not an illegal immigrant".

Although the story is being reported as a "Windrush scandal", this is really a much bigger one, of the hostile environment and all its insidious effects, showing what happens when anti-immigrant hysteria takes over. As the recipients of anti-immigrant hysteria du jour, the lesson is not lost on EU27 citizens living in Britain and their many friends. The Windrush scandal connects profoundly with Brexit, both as a product of the same political environment that drove the referendum result, and as a warning of the future that EU27 children may face in post-EU Britain.

Maybe you aren't bothered, because [you lack any sense of empathy and] your kids were born British? If those kids were born outside Britain, you might soon be: the fee for children to register as British is the next Windrush scandal.
posted by rory (81 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
To keep my editorialising in the comments as much as possible: the prime minister should resign, the Home Office should be shut down, the Conservative Party should be dissolved, and the government should pay reparations to everyone whose lives have been ruined by this hostile environment. Also, as the illegitimate offspring of the hostile environment and data-led breaches of electoral law and norms, Article 50 should be withdrawn.

Also also, for any Tory politicians proposing that post-Brexit Britain should introduce free movement between Britain and Australia, please excuse my hollow laughter. I would have benefited from such a policy myself at one point, but after seeing how Britain has treated past beneficiaries of freedom of movement, Commonwealth and EU, who would now trust their futures to it?
posted by rory at 7:57 AM on April 20, 2018 [47 favorites]

god i've been following this obsessively for a while now and tuesday's news of deliberately destroyed archives was fucking breathtaking in its horror. fascist demagogues worldwide are no doubt taking careful notes and being inspired.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:12 AM on April 20, 2018 [15 favorites]

Thank you for the post, Rory.

This is a horrifying situation, and truly shaming. That's about as coherent as I can manage.
posted by threetwentytwo at 8:13 AM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

Thank you for this post as I had been hearing about the Windrush scandal and wasn't sure what it was all about.

This is horrifying.
posted by Kitteh at 8:15 AM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

I was "born British, outside Britain", and I'd be far happier to lose my citizenship than to see these people who'd made a life in Britain, and contributed so much to British culture, be shafted in such a bullshit manner.

I've honestly been avoiding news of late, because, well 2018, but everything about this bullshit is bullshit.

May should've been removed in 2013. The fact that she's PM is an indictment of the Tory party, and tbh, the UK polity as a whole.
posted by pompomtom at 8:17 AM on April 20, 2018 [8 favorites]

David Lammy on ferocious form. The document suggesting those deported to Jamaica "put on a local accent " is still available on the gov.uk website.
posted by threetwentytwo at 8:23 AM on April 20, 2018 [7 favorites]

The destruction of the Windrush cards is astonishing in its evil. There are no punishments harsh enough for those responsible.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:25 AM on April 20, 2018 [10 favorites]

Thanks rory. I've kept checking to see if this makes the front page - I've found it altogether too painful to assemble anything objective enough myself. Gary Younge has an excellent opinion piece about this today, drawing some conclusions:
(From With Windrush, Theresa May mistook a national treasure for an easy target ...The apology, as it stands, is not for the existence of a policy that is unfair, unjust and discriminatory and causes anxiety, penury and despair, but for the ostensible misapplication of it. Over the past week, the official regrets have been too narrowly tailored, the memories too selective, the mendacity too brazen and the callousness too pernicious to see the government’s parsed and partial expressions of remorse as anything other than an insult to our intelligence.

It is shameful. However today I was in my local highstreet in a white working class area, taking some clothes to a charity shop that has a little cafe in it, two old blokes were having a heartfelt conversation about the Windrush scandal likening this government to the Nazis. I agree with them. Turned away from all your rights as a citizen by reason of your appearance; white english people don't get asked for their documents before they get hospital treatment, social housing etc so skin colour is likely the only reason questions were asked of the victims in the first place.

I'll also say the comments to all the Guardian articles are worth reading and actually I've found them heartening - the majority of below the line posters are outraged. There's also a lot of pushback on May's claim that the boarding cards were disposed of by the previous Labour government. "Liar" is one of the things MP's can't call each other in the chamber but consensus is, this was a cynical lie.
posted by glasseyes at 8:27 AM on April 20, 2018 [8 favorites]

Okay so as a non-British person, what I am asking may be so crazy as to not even be wrong, but - since Commonwealth citizens are the Queen's subjects, is there any way to stop them being mistreated from the top? Could the Queen, say, start withholding Royal Assent to bills until they fix this insanity?
posted by corb at 8:34 AM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

Speaking as a new citizen of the Commonwealth (Canada, admittedly), the Queen does very little and can do very little, really.
posted by Kitteh at 8:35 AM on April 20, 2018 [3 favorites]

Not really but the gos was May revised her decision not to meet with Commonwealth leaders because Liz the Boss had had a word. That doesn't effect parliament and legal procedure though, the Queens's not allowed to, I don't think.
posted by glasseyes at 8:37 AM on April 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

As far as I understand it, the power of the state is embodied in the Queen, but she is not able to exercise it at all - that is the job of Parliament. She does have influence (she has personally met every major world leader and most of the minor ones since 1952), but not power. This is incredibly important, but I'm not good enough constitutional historian to explain exactly why and how.
posted by Grangousier at 8:39 AM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

Could the Queen, say, start withholding Royal Assent to bills until they fix this insanity?

Yeah, nah.

Google Charles I.
posted by pompomtom at 8:39 AM on April 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

Incidentally, this is a bit of a derail.
posted by Grangousier at 8:41 AM on April 20, 2018 [6 favorites]

If you can trust a Quora answer, technically the government would dissolve and a new one would be gathered from the assembled MPs; if no goverment could be made, then there would be a general election. Presumably at that point the will of the people would cause the bill either to be reconsidered by parliament, or the whole cycle would repeat...the end result of which would be a huge mass of (currently) unknowable unknowns.
posted by Fraxas at 8:42 AM on April 20, 2018

the prime minister should resign etc

Oh and the faceless drones who took those decisions should be also be called to account, as should their managers. Surely it's all been minuted?

Barnes tried repeatedly to explain to staff that her mother, 61, a former cook who had lived in the UK for over 50 years, and who had worked in the House of Commons serving food to MPs, was not an illegal immigrant. Occasionally she got angry and sometimes very upset as she attempted in vain to persuade officials that a mistake had been made.

Eventually, Home Office workers at the reporting centre got so fed up with her that she was banned from entering the building, and her mother had to go in alone. In October, without her daughter to argue for her, Wilson was detained and sent to Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre, ahead of deportation to Jamaica, a country she had not visited since 1968.

posted by glasseyes at 8:43 AM on April 20, 2018 [6 favorites]

What has been the response of the opposition to these revelations? Is there a political party in the UK that can, in good conscience, be supported in 2018? What is the most effective way for a resident of the UK to speak to power (or, at least, their backbencher MP) on this and other similar issues? I don't know how to find out how to do political advocacy in the UK.
posted by Fraxas at 8:47 AM on April 20, 2018

The story has been bubbling slowly for 5 months, as Gary Younge states: Depriving British citizens of their jobs, healthcare, benefits, pensions, housing and liberty, if they could not provide up to four pieces of documentary evidence for every year they have been here stretching back over 50 years, is not the result of an administrative error. If it had been, it could have been corrected five months ago, when the Guardian broke the first story relating to this scandal.

It's felt like every month there have been reports of a new victim. It's been like an inexorable tide of horribleness with no obvious solution: the wall of government obfuscation seemed impenetrable, all the victims seemed to have lawyers and other support but still seemed to be losing everything. Kudos to the Guardian and especially to Amelia Gentleman for staying with the story and making sure it broke properly.
posted by glasseyes at 8:56 AM on April 20, 2018 [10 favorites]

Yvette Cooper has been doing a decent job holding the government to account on this hostile environment issue. I can’t, in good conscience, say that Labour is the perfect answer here—particularly on the coming Brexit-related immigration horror—but some Labour MPs can be good allies. The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants also seems to be doing a lot of work in this area, so I donated to them.
posted by Aravis76 at 8:57 AM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

Is there a political party in the UK that can, in good conscience, be supported in 2018?

If you can overlook their support for Brexit: Labour
If you can overlook their former leader saying gay sex was a sin, and the fact they went into coalition with the Tories: Lib Dems
If you can't overlook either of the above but are OK accepting you're fairly unlikely to get an MP elected (unless you live in Brighton): Green Party
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:01 AM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

This blog, strident and partisan as it is, lists the 18 MPs that voted against the 2014 ammendment that removed legal protection from Windrush immigrants. The 5 labour MPs in that number were Diane Abbott, Jeremy Corbyn, Mark Lazarowicz, Fiona Mactaggart and John McDonnell.

I will vote against the Bill on Third Reading for a large number of reasons. We have ordained that the Home Secretary will have executive power to take away citizenship in the future and to create a generation of stateless people. The handing over of that power is, I think, a very dangerous thing for any Parliament to do.
posted by glasseyes at 9:06 AM on April 20, 2018 [5 favorites]

Interesting that that letter was leaked, Juso No Thankyou, after Rudd's very public shunting of blame onto the department she had inherited and the civil servants therein.
posted by glasseyes at 9:12 AM on April 20, 2018

Sorry for spamming, folks, I'll stop now. Thanks for putting the post together rory, you did a great job. I thought I had a summary of how the story broke bookmarked, but it was almost identical to Amelia Gentleman's index page anyhow.
posted by glasseyes at 9:16 AM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you can’t overlook the absurd FPTP mechanics of the UK electoral system, which you actually seriously can’t: Labour.
posted by pompomtom at 9:17 AM on April 20, 2018 [3 favorites]

So come on, if you were in charge of the department that put this omnishambles together, and now you're the PM, how the hell do you still have your job?
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 9:24 AM on April 20, 2018 [3 favorites]

The Tories aren't exactly overwhelmed with options to replace her, and given what happened last time, nobody seems terribly eager to get the top job.

I suspect Rudd will be the one who ends up resigning.
posted by threetwentytwo at 9:30 AM on April 20, 2018

So come on, if you were in charge of the department that put this omnishambles together, and now you're the PM, how the hell do you still have your job?

Because nobody else wants that job right now—it’s a poisoned chalice. May could start PMQs next week screaming to be allowed to quit and move to the Home Counties and she would still be PM the next day. I doubt she’ll survive long after Brexit happens and Boris and co rediscover their ambitions again.
posted by Aravis76 at 9:32 AM on April 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

This is definitely a derail, and I am definitely a pedantic jerk for bringing it up, but in my youth in Surrey and especially in my love of 19th century literature, I have always heard the phrase from the first sentence of the FPP used as "home counties", not "home countries". Although Wikipedia does hedge its bets with this disclaimer: "The origin of the term "home counties" is unknown and no exact definition exists, making their composition a matter of constant debate."

So enough of that nonsense-- this was a fantastic and comprehensive post and I learned a lot. I will be several hours if not days following all the links and reading the discussions. Thank you for making it!
posted by seasparrow at 9:34 AM on April 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

I don't know how to find out how to do political advocacy in the UK.

Try Unlock Democracy as a starting point.
posted by robertc at 9:57 AM on April 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

white english people don't get asked for their documents before they get hospital treatment, social housing etc so skin colour is likely the only reason questions were asked of the victims in the first place.

You're half right. Without a doubt, skin colour or some misguided and deeply racist conception of "foreign-looking" is why they were targeted. But white people do also get targeted, if they see other features that mark them out as foreign, like ostentatiously foreign names. I'm a Dane, not an Englishman, but I have definitely been asked to provide documentation in situations where people surnamed Smith or what have you have not needed to. I know white English people with similarly foreign sounding names, or accents, for whom the same is true.
posted by Dysk at 10:12 AM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

seasparrow, "home countries" with an R was how the BBC was describing them throughout the Commonwealth Games coverage, to indicate the constituent countries of the UK (who compete separately in the Commonwealth Games): England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey. Maybe it's a recent affectation, after said home counties.
posted by rory at 10:13 AM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

"home countries" with an R was how the BBC was describing them throughout the Commonwealth Games coverage

As a rugby fan, I gotta wonder what was wrong with the perfectly good and established phrase "home nations," which has the distinct advantage of not sounding like home counties.
posted by Dysk at 10:16 AM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yes, I was about to add that the more usual term is "home nations", which some commentators also used, but they were mostly saying "home countries"—perhaps because "nations" is an unfortunate reminder of the revival of nationalism that has made the 2018 Commonwealth Games a less innocent watch than the 2014 ones (let alone the 2012 London Olympics).
posted by rory at 10:18 AM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

It's probably not a derail as Home Country means Great Britain, means England, the centre of the Empire. That this was the imperial subjects' home was a fundamental part of the lie they and we were told about the relationship between Britain and the Empire/Commonwealth. It was a promise that was kept grudgingly, then mindlessly broken and which is currently being ground underfoot like a discarded cigarette butt.
posted by Grangousier at 10:21 AM on April 20, 2018 [5 favorites]

Since this post also speaks to the wider issue of British relations with other Commonwealth countries, there's also this piece from ten days ago:

Sorry, Brexiters. Banking on the Commonwealth is a joke.

We could now add that banking on the Commonwealth after you've been treating its citizens so inhumanely is liable to backfire. Which would be some sort of justice, but at a terrible cost to all of us.
posted by rory at 10:26 AM on April 20, 2018 [10 favorites]

But white people do also get targeted, if they see other features that mark them out as foreign, like ostentatiously foreign names.

Of course. But I can imagine a qualitative emotional difference between being betrayed by a country you know you came to as a visitor and had to go through a process in order to belong to, and being betrayed by a country you thought you belonged to unequivocally by reason of just being in it. The betrayal is deeper I think. And I had to wonder how some of the Windrush people were targeted - they have English names, so it's not obvious on a form. They had navigated bureaucracy for 40-odd years with no trouble: work, housing, National Insurance, hospital. None of their existing documentation would indicate their origins, they had all been here just that long. How were they trawled for? At one point I was imagining HO officials going through the rolls of West Indian clubs, matching up names and addresses.

As the Albert Thompson affair was happening my partner had a series of medical crises that included a trip to Casualty. No ID was asked for, we would have been exceptionally shocked if it had been. He is of an age when you expect things might go really wrong with your body and it brought home to me the inhumanity of Thompson's situation even more.

Now if I were to go to Casualty and get asked for ID - I have been naturalised since the 90's - I think there might be a fight. Plus photographs. But I would not feel the betrayal to half the same extent as the Windrush generation, who were asked - begged - to come here and help get Britain on its feet.
posted by glasseyes at 10:40 AM on April 20, 2018 [4 favorites]

You know that for example the children of immigrants can also have ostentatiously foreign sounding names? Some of the people I know who've been asked for papers in hospitals and what have you have in fact been born here.
posted by Dysk at 10:47 AM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm not trying to argue with you that it's terrible. I am insisting that what has happened to the Windrush people is worse. If you are talking about people with 40 years of living here thinking they are English behind them, and then being denied treatment, then yes, that is equivalent.
posted by glasseyes at 10:55 AM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

‘Act Jamaican,’ they said when they deported me. But I’m British. This is an important piece, because it shows how questions of "legality" or "illegality" are far from a straightforward way of determining who should stay and who should go, and are no simple path to justice. For people brought here as children, raised here, this is their home and it's shaped their identity in profound and irreversible ways. It shouldn't even matter if they've been convicted of a crime: they're a product of Britain, and a mature and confident country would take the rough with the smooth. Having the sentence for a crime come with a bonus sentence of deportation, exile from your family and friends, and being forced to live as an alien is wildly disproportionate, whether it's for a drugs offence or for gunpowder, treason and plot. Even convicted murderers get to see their mums during visiting hours, if they're British-born. But ahhh, they're one of the good murderers...
posted by rory at 10:58 AM on April 20, 2018

Of course, they actually have the papers to produce, whereas many of the Windrush generation don't. But the racist and xenophobic targeting absolutely affects people who give indications they might not be local, even where those indications are not skin colour.

If I face deportation on the wake of brexit at any point, it will also be to a country I haven't lived in since I was five, having moved from it with my parents to a (then) British colony, and moving to Britain when I left home at 18. I get that there is a deeper racism embedded in the Windrush fuckup, which makes it uglier, but I'm not sure you can make categorical statements about the emotional or personal impact for the individuals involved necessarily being less for other groups.
posted by Dysk at 11:00 AM on April 20, 2018

how some of the Windrush people were targeted

As the stories that Amelia Gentleman and others have been reporting have shown, they've rarely been targeted by the Home Office at first—they've come to its attention through the effects of the hostile environment.

Employers know that they now have to ensure that employees have the right to work here, or face £20,000 fines. Better check the people who look or sound different. Oh look, they're undocumented: sorry, we'll have to let you go. The employers don't even need to report the affected people to the HO: the people will turn to the HO in desperation to try to get the papers they need. And that's when they come onto their radar.

Not only employers, but NHS frontline staff. Benefits officers. Landlords. So, no job, no medical care, no welfare, no roof over your head, no legal aid: one way or another, you will come to the authorities' attention.

When I read Stasiland in 2002, a nonfiction account of East Germany which won awards here in Britain, it seemed a nightmare vision: a society where half the population were spying on the other half. I didn't expect that in 2018 I'd be living in Stasiland Lite.

My son performed with his school choir in a singing competition last week, in a theatre across town. The three of us caught a cab home afterwards, giving the driver our address in the south of the city. He asked us how long we were visiting for. We live here, I said. Oh? For how long?

Seventeen years.

"...Do you still like Edinburgh?"

We could so easily go full Stasiland. When you speak differently, or look different, everyone's curious: that curiosity can be innocent, or can seem innocent in certain lights, until it isn't, and doesn't.

(Yes, I said, and meant it, in large part because this was Edinburgh in 2016. But Edinburgh on its own can't defeat the Home Office.)
posted by rory at 11:29 AM on April 20, 2018 [4 favorites]

the Windrush fuckup

I think it's important to remember it wasn't a fuck up. It was carefully considered and enacted policy.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 11:30 AM on April 20, 2018 [15 favorites]

I dunno, being denied cancer treatment would have quite devastating emotional, physical and practical results? Has that happened to the people you are talking about?

There have been many recent uk stories of extremely cruel if not irrational immigration decisions affecting Europeans, Australians, Americans even. There is no doubt that a pernicious xenophobia pervades the government office that makes these decisions. Lives are being wrecked - maliciously - across the board. Asylum seekers have been sent back to almost certain death

But yes, I think the particular circumstances of the Windrush affair make it more pernicious, more hateful, more destructive, more double-crossing and definitely more racist than the general round of rights removal and deportations.
posted by glasseyes at 11:34 AM on April 20, 2018

Jesus Christ- did Theresa May watch Children of Men and think, "Oh, that would be simply marvelous."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:56 AM on April 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

I meant to post info about a few more cases, not all of them Windrush. Yes it's pervasive and a hugely diverse group of people is at risk. I stand by what I said about Windrush though.

Samim Bigzad. Aderonke Apata. Paulette Wilson. Anthony Bryan. The Thies Family. The Waterman Family (this was especially egregious - note it involves a woman of colour.) Elly Wright. Eva Joanna Holmburg.
Nesrine Malik. (Two links given)
posted by glasseyes at 12:03 PM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

Irene Clennell (another WOC)
posted by glasseyes at 12:15 PM on April 20, 2018

God, what a shithole the Tories are turning us into. I'm glad I live in Scotland but I doubt that counts for very much if things turn nasty as they might after Brexit. I'd like an EU passport please.
posted by epo at 12:16 PM on April 20, 2018

I'm a Dane, not an Englishman, but I have definitely been asked to provide documentation in situations where people surnamed Smith or what have you have not needed to. I know white English people with similarly foreign sounding names, or accents, for whom the same is true.

For the record my obviously English partner (surnamed Smith!) got medical treatment free of cost and in about 30 minutes in Denmark, with no checking of ID.
posted by biffa at 2:00 PM on April 20, 2018

Well, aside from that, what have the Danes ever done for England?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:16 PM on April 20, 2018

Carlsberg Expørt?
posted by Grangousier at 2:20 PM on April 20, 2018

Well, aside from that, what have the Danes ever done for England?

if only alfred had been slightly less great
posted by poffin boffin at 2:28 PM on April 20, 2018 [3 favorites]

Is there a political party in the UK that can, in good conscience, be supported in 2018?

If you can overlook their support for Brexit: Labour

Regrettably, nope. Here's what happened when some Labour Lords tried to pass an amendment to the Brexit bill designed to keep Britain in the Single Market:

Corbyn applied the whip to Labour peers to vote it down.
Labour's Brexit spokesperson Baroness Hayter said that a vote to stay in the single market would have defied the will of the people on immigration. [...]

"We cannot simply airbrush free movement from the referendum decision," she said.

"If we turn around to those who voted out and say, 'Yes, well, we’re out but still have everything exactly as it was, with free movement unchanged,' I think that might evince some surprise."
(Hey, Baroness, this immigrant notes your faulty use of the word "evince". I think she may mean "invoke" or "evoke".)

Labour are choosing to leave the single market in order to pander to the anti-immigration mob. They have decided that soliciting the votes of bigots is more important than fighting bigotry.

I am white-hot with fury about this, because these people aren't stupid (well, many of them). They know perfectly well that this country needs immigration in order to function. They also know that they are stripping British citizens of their free movement rights, betraying the vast number of Labour supporters who voted Remain.

But there it is in the Labour manifesto: "Free movement will end when we leave the European Union." Which, if allowed to stand, commits any future Labour government to leaving the single market, damaging the economy, causing a recession, a hard border in Ireland, and all the trainwreck of Tory policy goals.

I still have some sympathy with Corbyn's domestic and social policies. Invest in schools, the NHS and the social safety net; tax the wealthy and corporations to pay for it-- I'm absolutely on board with that. But Corbyn has shown that he's crap at foreign policy and especially crap on Brexit. I'm done with Corbyn, and done with Labour until they have a leadership that supports remaining in the EU, or at minimum the single market.
posted by Pallas Athena at 3:49 PM on April 20, 2018 [9 favorites]

I am pretty much in line with Pallas Athena. I held my nose and voted Labour in the last general election and the next day was told i was one of a huge majority voting for brexit favouring parties. Well that lesson is learned. No more voting Labour.
posted by biffa at 4:01 PM on April 20, 2018 [5 favorites]

I was done with Labour when I heard Barry Gardiner, shadow trade secretary and recent Corbyn ally, invoke “the will of the British people” as the reason why he couldn’t even discuss free movement after Brexit. He essentially said The People were against immigration, and Labour was for The People, the end. It was an awful move, straight out of the nastiest populist playbook—eliminating immigrants and Remain voters and other Daily Mail targets from the category of people even worthy of consideration—and it broke my ability to imagine voting Labour again, except for strategic anti-Tory reasons (unnecessary in my constituency).
posted by Aravis76 at 1:18 AM on April 21, 2018 [6 favorites]

Bringing this back to the actual Windrush scandal, reports continue:
Civil servants' union boss hits back at Rudd over Windrush blame Criticism of Home Office staff is attempt to deflect from Theresa May’s hostile policies, says FDA chief
DWP sent Windrush pensioner £33,000 bill for disability benefits (This woman, an ex accountant, had the resources to fight the decision in court)
'I thought I would die': Windrush man left homeless after brain surgery
Windrush generation tell of holidays that led to exile and heartbreak
Twitter stream by Rob Ford on why a new crisis hitting EU migrants is likely soon
Summing up the development of the scandal, The week that took Windrush from low-profile investigation to national scandal

What the thorough and systematic journalism - the chasing of a story, the following of leads to reveal its many facets, the placing it in context, the chronological release as more information is discovered, the accumulation of facts building into a coherent and narrative - what this has done has revealed the governments ethos and methodology. This is how they tackle the work of government they have been entrusted to do. It explains many things that otherwise look like strange incompetence. In particular it reveals these tory's deliberate basic governmental strategy to be, Head for the vulnerable; give them a good kicking before anybody notices = profit!

Over the past couple of years we've had extraordinary cruel stories of what has happened to people on Disability Benefit and the new Universal Credit, and the effects of benefits sanctions. But not enough of them! Our streets are full of people begging, odd bits of waste ground and the edges of parks are sprouting tents and lean-tos. Everyone knows people who are struggling, or people who have simply disappeared after a negative encounter with the [benefits office, whatever it's called now.] What has been lacking in the reporting has been a coherent narrative about government intent and procedures. The difference with the reporting of the Windrush saga, is that Amelia Gentleman is able to state unequivocally: "The link between the prime minister’s policies and this tragedy is clear." These tragedies are not anomalous, they are systematic and intended. It'll be good if that discovery informs future investigations into all this governments cynical cock-ups.
posted by glasseyes at 3:20 AM on April 21, 2018 [9 favorites]

I'm a British citizen, born there. I recently claimed a second nationality I was entitled to but had never bothered to take up. This scandal has made me feel like renouncing my British citizenship.

I left about five years ago because I could see which way the wind was blowing and wanted no part of it. I'm now at the point where I would turn my back on my country of birth entirely. But the way things are going, if I ever went back in future as an ex-citizen, I'd probably be singled out for some special attention.
posted by Buck Alec at 3:57 PM on April 21, 2018

Guardian (and Corbyn) makes a link between Hostile Environment and this horrorshow: Government plans that will force people to prove their identities at polling stations [being trialled in several local authorities in] May’s local elections risk disenfranchising members of ethnic minority communities, according to a leaked letter to ministers from the equality and human rights watchdog.

AFAICT this gets pushed specifically as addressing "a consistent underlying level of concern about electoral fraud... shared by a broad range of people including voters, those
standing for election and those running elections." (electoral commision, 2014). In other words the problem is perception, not reality. You might hope we were learning some lessons about that sort of thing. Apparently not.

The Electoral commission has been quite happy to make reassuring noises about this being "proportional", that accessibility could be ensured, and lessons would be learnt from the US. Looking more recently, It turns out even they had qualms about what the government is actually willing to implement. The Commission is disappointed that provision for electors to obtain an alternative form of identification – specifically for the purpose of voting if they do not have access to any other specified form of identification – has been ruled out at this early stage. Our research has identified and acknowledged concerns that any requirement for electors to show photographic proof of their identity at polling stations could discourage and potentially deter some people if they do not have easy access to a qualifying form of ID.

I've no idea from the government statement, how pilots are supposed to be "trialling both photo ID and non-photo ID to see what is most effective". Surely they don't expect the pilots are going to hit "lucky" with a spate of hard evidence of fraud that somehow makes a determination one way or the other. By candidates in specifically scrutinized areas?
posted by sourcejedi at 8:29 AM on April 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Home Office data exemption sparks fears of further Windrush scandals: "If the data protection bill's 'immigration exemption' becomes law, it will be near-impossible to challenge poor decision-making in immigration cases, or prevent the Home Office destroying evidence that could help people prove their right to be here."
posted by rory at 7:01 AM on April 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

Amelia Gentleman's scathing response to Rudd's statements is essential reading.
posted by rory at 5:40 AM on April 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

'I felt like dirt': disabled Canadian woman told to leave UK after 44 years

Are they trying to avoid being called racist by treating white people inhumanly too?
posted by Grangousier at 2:52 PM on April 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

For those of us unable to simply move to a less terrible country, what can we do? The recent example of the States suggests it's possible to turn a bad situation like this around, but where do we start?
posted by entity447b at 1:02 AM on April 25, 2018

For those of us unable to simply move to a less terrible country, what can we do? The recent example of the States suggests it's possible to turn a bad situation like this around, but where do we start?

FWIW, my view is that addressing shoddy media output propaganda is a good place to start. Politics won't change until people want something different. This requires people to stop listening to the, for example, blatant anti-immigrant press or the repetitive "benefits recipients are scroungers" message you get in many places. There are a number of very good new outlets that would benefit from your support and promotion amongst your friends. Vote with your cash money.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 2:10 AM on April 25, 2018

Astounding that the New Statesman were able to write an article of that length on that topic and not mention brexit once. Confronting the harsh realities of brexit, and the divisions it has created within the tory party, that is what it would take. Until then, May could shoot someone live on TV and her party and Parliament would be behind her.
posted by Dysk at 3:04 AM on April 25, 2018

One place to start would be to join Liberty who have just secured a huge victory regarding human rights law post-Brexit.

When you join they will give you a set of instructions for how to lobby your MP from the least to the most involvement possible.
posted by tel3path at 4:02 AM on April 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

Johnathon Pie: A hostile environment
posted by adamvasco at 6:10 PM on April 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Home Office had targets for deportation of illegal immigrants.

Immigration enforcement teams have been set targets for the deportation of illegal immigrants, despite Amber Rudd telling MPs that they had not.

Hmm. Perhaps somebody would like to, you know, do the decent thing, and resign.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 1:57 AM on April 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

Thursday afternoon:
Amber Rudd scraps targets for removing immigrants from UK Home secretary urged to quit as she ditches targets she told MPs had not been set
posted by glasseyes at 10:42 AM on April 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh, there was this yesterday:
'Not British enough': ex-high commissioner's baby denied UK passport in 2011
The ex high commissioner uses conciliatory language but makes the point this indicates the default answer to all requests is "No", and what a huge if not impossible barrier it is to applications from low-income citizens.
posted by glasseyes at 11:00 AM on April 26, 2018 [4 favorites]

The self-destructiveness on display here is maddening.
NHS Employers said that since December 400 visas for doctors across the UK had been refused, despite the staffing crisis in hospitals.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:39 AM on April 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

- There were no targets.
- OK, there were targets but I didn't know about them.
- I've got rid of the targets now.
- Oh turns out I did know about them.
Amber Rudd’s insistence that she knew nothing of Home Office targets for immigration removals risks unravelling following the leak of a secret internal document prepared for her and other senior ministers.
The six-page memo, passed to the Guardian, says the department has set “a target of achieving 12,800 enforced returns in 2017-18” and boasts that “we have exceeded our target of assisted returns”.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:58 AM on April 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

- OK turns out I set them as well.
The letter, signed by the home secretary in January last year, states that she is refocusing work within her department to achieve the “aim of increasing the number of enforced removals by more than 10% over the next few years”.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:44 AM on April 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

Finally, late on Sunday night:

@Nick_Pettigrew Fair play to Amber Rudd. 10pm on a Sunday night, finishing the 2nd bottle of wine, going “Monday? Nah, sod that.” We’ve all dreamed of it.
posted by threetwentytwo at 2:56 PM on April 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

Finally, late on Sunday night:

About bloody time.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 5:37 PM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

She's being replaced by Sajid Javid, which is utterly terrifying.
posted by Dysk at 2:52 AM on April 30, 2018 [4 favorites]

"Theresa May can’t afford to lose Amber Rudd – which puts the home secretary in a surprisingly strong position"
Writes John Rentoul in the Independent on Sunday.

Amazing timing.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:15 AM on April 30, 2018

She's being replaced by Sajid Javid, which is utterly terrifying.

Oh Jesus. I was working in the heritage sector when he became Secretary of Culture, Media and Sport. It... was not a good time.

(I both no longer work in heritage nor live in the UK so, uh, good job already!)
posted by kalimac at 5:00 AM on April 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

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