Windrush: Lies and Contempt

The so-called ‘Windrush Generation’ of Caribbean immigrants from the 1940s to 1970s (and, especially, the children of these immigrants, who arrived with their parents) has been in the news as many are being labelled ‘illegal immigrants’ and threatened with expulsion from the UK. The entire story is one of lies and contempt.

Before I go any further, I must stress that the lies are those of the authorities and not the immigrants, who came to the UK in good faith, worked hard and integrated. They are victims.

The lies began when the ship The Empire Windrush brought the first immigrants over in 1948. The authorities claimed they were necessary to rebuild ‘war-torn Britain’ – a claim that has been propagated in accounts down to today. But, this was a lie – the real reason they were brought to Britain was to allow the release of young Britons in reserved occupations to swell the numbers of conscripts being sent to fight Britain’s wars in the fading days of empire.

The lies didn’t end there, even as men were demobbed from their national service, more immigrants were being brought over, despite the fact that former conscripts were struggling to find jobs. Why? Exactly the same reason that, latterly, the authorities encouraged immigrants from Eastern Europe, even in periods of high unemployment, to come to the UK: cheap labour.

Which brings us to the biggest lie of all: that the immigrants were respected for their contribution to the UK. While they were supplying cheap labour, they were fine. But, now, as they grow older and need medical treatment, pensions and care, they’re a nuisance.

How far the attempt to remove those who came here legally was a deliberate act is unclear (and destroying the boarding passes that would help prove their legality and the way in which the Home Office has been unwilling to assist them in locating evidence suggests that it was), but the fact that nobody in a position of authority had any concerns until the fiasco became public knowledge and blew up in their faces, shows the contempt they held them in. Europeans living legally in the UK are right to be concerned about how they will be treated in future: when they are no longer cheap labour but a burden, they won’t have many friends amongst those who were their cheerleaders. Just as the men in reserved occupations were treated with contempt in the ’40s and British workers have been treated with contempt ever since, so have the ‘Windrush generation’ and, it is likely, those who follow them.

Those in authority don’t care about race or religion or nationality, only money and power – and everyone else can suffer as long as they profit.


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