Black Londoners will descend on polling stations across the capital 3 May to make their voices heard. This insightful read chronicles the recent fightback issues likely to affect their votes
By Thomas L Blair 28 May 2018 ©
In the course of one week in April the Windrush Generation rose in solidarity against the spectre of uncaring immigration policies. Black journalists, politicians, faith leaders and celebrities curbed the Government’s appetite for deportation – needlessly tainted with racial bias.
“Hounding Commonwealth citizens is no accident. It’s cruelty by design” thundered Gary Younge, Guardian editor-at-large.
Baroness Doreen Lawrence, herself of the Windrush Generation, and mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, reportedly said, “Victims of the Windrush scandal have faced a “double whammy” of racial prejudice since arriving in Britain”.
She pointed to the hostile reception that greeted the newcomers in the first ship that brought them to Britain in 1948. Now they face deportation seven decades later.
Champion of the Caribbean Diaspora David Lammy tweeted Home Secretary Amber Rudd to set the record straight. The Windrush Generation’s “citizenship is theirs by right, and was taken away by your government, not something that your government is now choosing to grant them”.
John Sentamu, the archbishop of York, called for an inquiry into immigration policy. He said, “Almost 50,000 mostly Commonwealth migrants are facing problems securing their citizenship, access to healthcare and other services because of Home Office demands to see proof of their rights to be here”.
From the pulpit at St Martin in the Fields, an outraged Lenny Henry scorned institutional racism. A pointed rebuke to Prime Minister Theresa May and the Metropolitan police commissioner Cressida Dick and the politicians present.
Grenada-born broadcaster Alex Pascall, of Windrush Generation heritage, called on London voters and trade unionists to support the Windrush workers.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, piled new pressure on Amber Rudd to resign as home secretary. London’s first Muslim mayor and son of immigrant parents launched a devastating attack on her “inhumane treatment” of immigrants in towns and cities across the country.
Could the Windrush Generation’s plight and fightback actions have any effects on the elections?
Labour, the traditional choice of Black voters, hopes to cause a series of political upsets by beating the Tories in their London strongholds of Wandsworth, Westminster and Barnet in London. They may triumph in Trafford in Greater Manchester.
In this context, the Windrush Generation’s challenge has two important implications for Black voting behaviour. There is no confidence in the government’s offer of citizenship rights and compensation. The many thousands affected pledge an appeal for political action.
Therefore, their favoured candidates 3 May should raise concerns about structural racism in immigration policies. They should support a fixed timetable to deal with alleged institutional prejudices and longstanding hardship cases. Furthermore, politicians should support demands for:
- Oversight of the Government’s immigration/deportation policies.
- Penalties and resignations for the “shameful failure” to fulfil obligations.
- Swift and fair dealing with abuses and complaints.
Therefore, more than bins and potholes, the issues we have identified may echo in the election results. Expect some pro-Windrush Generation advances in Labour Party constituencies and Conservative party losses in key marginal seats.
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