I started watching ‘I’m All Right Jack’, a 1959 British film about labour relations – and the main character’s last name is Windrush.
MV Empire Windrush, arrived in 1948, with workers from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago to help fill post-war UK labour shortages.
For those not in the UK who may not know the story, the Windrush Generation are known as that for what happened to them and how they were treated.
After the Second World War, the country badly needed workers. From 1948 until the 1971 Immigration Act, people who were from a Commonwealth country had a right to settle in the UK. The estimate is that about 500,000 people came – and were invited to come to fill the labour shortages.
After the 1971 Immigration Act, a British passport holder born overseas could only settle in the UK with both a work permit and proof of a parent or grandparent being born in the UK.
So if you came to Britain as part of the Windrush Generation, everything should be OK,
It should have been, but forty years later, when the Home Office wanted to remove people without leave to remain in the UK, its net included many of the Windrush generation, who had no papers that could prove when they came.
The Home Office kept no record of those granted leave to remain and issued no paperwork and in 2010, it destroyed the landing cards belonging to Windrush migrants.
It became a scandal – people – some of who arrived as children, having lived and worked here for decades, were threatened with deportation and had their lives turned upside down, and denied the right to work.
It wasn’t and isn’t an accident. It is part of a Government policy to rid the country of certain ethnic groups who could not prove they had a right to remain.
It is ongoing, and you can read more about the Windrush Scandal here from the Joint Council For The Welfare Of Immigrants.
A Personal Note
There is always a balancing act in admitting immigrants to a country.
If population density is high; if the native born people with histories in the country feel their identity threatened, then this has to be recognised.
Some countries have taken in immigrants and found that it tested their claims to be open and welcoming. This is what it is to be human.
But that doesn’t apply here to the Windrush Generation. These people were invited, Some were born here to those who came. To play fast and lose with them as though they are dispensable, and not to treat them properly and well is shameful.