Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott & six other Labour MPs voted against aspects of the 2014 Immigration Bill
A Jamaican correspondent asks: “Why did the other 250+ Labour MPs abstain?”
An edited summary follows:
The Tony Blair and Gordon Brown Labour governments themselves developed immigration policies that were very anti-Jamaican and draconian at times. Some New Labour government ministers and MPs (Alan Johnson, John Reid?) were even condemned for their own right-wing rhetoric on immigration.
In 2013, when then Home Secretary Theresa May drafted her immigration policy there was not the tumultuous outrage happening today. But while some raised concerns too many others ignored the severity of May’s proposed legislation. Even the then Labour Party under Ed Miliband displayed little resistance which was no surprise as a number of his own MPs were there in government when Labour developed their own draconian immigration policies to impress the xenophobes.
The idea of making invited West Indian born UK residents stateless was ‘sneaky cruel legislation’ that should never had passed the first hurdle in parliament.
Labour Party MP, David Lammy made some powerful remarks in parliament to Amber Rudd which has gone viral. He has been one of the public faces of anger since the scandal broke.
But where was Lammy’s voice in 2013? 2014? … in 2016? when the immigration legislation was going through parliament? Better late than never?
The correspondent gives details of law-abiding Jamaican immigrants dragged from their home or work place and locked up in detention centres for months, during the last 17 years only to be released with no further action taken. No apology. No compensation for loss of earnings. He adds:
“I am disappointed that too many high-profile figures within the Afro Caribbean community kept quiet over the years. But the biggest disappointment for me has been the response by successive Jamaican governments”.
ITV recalls: The Windrush Generation were invited to help rebuild the UK in the decades following World War II. In June 1948, 492 passengers arrived at Tilbury Dock, Essex, on the SS Empire Windrush after making the 8,000 mile voyage from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands, to the UK.
Many Jamaicans have been damaged greatly at the hands of the UK’s immigration bullying tactics from Jamaica’s elected officials, with the possible exception of Mike Henry. Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness was asked recently on British TV about how long he had been aware of the Windrush scandal. His response was “2 months” ago. Had his entire High Commission team in London been so out of touch with these serious issues in the UK?
But despite their underhand anti-Jamaican immigration policies, successive UK governments have never stopped unashamedly raiding Jamaica for its best nurses and teachers. I am certain this recruitment approach by Britain will again intensify following BREXIT.
In 2009, British actress Joanna Lumley stood up for the residential rights of some in the Gurkha community who themselves faced deportation from the UK. Lumley became the public voice for the Gurkhas and used her reputation to great success. She publicly embarrassed then Immigration Minister Phil Woolas and forced a u-turn from the government. Who is our Joanna Lumley?
He ends: this is not only a scandal for the Conservatives, but also for the Afro Caribbean community.
For the past 2 decades too many in the Afro Caribbean community stood still and allowed Labour and Tory governments to demean the contributions of the Jamaican community in particular. A contribution that goes back 400 years.
We should have demonstrated more resolutely from 2013, when it became clear that May’s proposals would affect the Afro Caribbean community the hardest. We didn’t bombard MPs, Ministers and the media with our concerns. We did not protest in our tens of thousands outside Parliament or the Home Office. Our leadership and campaign throughout this episode was pathetic.
We should have fought back stronger with our messaging and activism from when the Jamaica immigrant-bashing first started under the Blair government and has continued up to today.
For that, many of us in the Afro Caribbean community – including me – also need to say sorry to the victims of the Windrush scandal.
Read the article here: https://wingswithme.wordpress.com/2018/04/29/windrush-generation-let-down-by-all-of-us/
See also Derek Laud, broadcaster, former political speech writer and the author of ‘The Problem With Immigrants’ in the FT: “As the son of Jamaican immigrants, I can no longer be a Tory.”