Beware using the Windrush generation for political gain

PUBLISHED: 00:00 19 April 2018

Jamaican immigrants welcomed by RAF officials from the Colonial Office after the ex-troopship HMT 'Empire Windrush' landed them at Tilbury.
Photo: PA

Jamaican immigrants welcomed by RAF officials from the Colonial Office after the ex-troopship HMT 'Empire Windrush' landed them at Tilbury. Photo: PA

PA Archive/PA Images

The worry caused to the Windrush kids shames us all.

These Commonwealth citizens answered Britain’s plea for help and did their bit to rebuild after the devastation of the Second World War.

And many of them, when they arrived in 1948, were fresh from those blood-soaked battlefields where they had served bravely against the Axis forces.

To be fair to the government, and Amber Rudd especially who is among the more sensible in the Tory top brass, I doubt their intention was ever to kick out these highly-valued British citizens.

But amid a febrile atmosphere in government – where vans were being sent out demanding immigrants “go home” – the treatment of the Windrush kids leaves a particularly foul taste in the mouth.

Those boarding cards, which have become the focus of the political argument, should never have been disposed of, clearly. And the facts around exactly who did it and when it happened might never become fully clear.

But both Labour and the Tories must beware – turning the Windrush generation into political capital can easily backfire.

Theresa May has apologised. Now MPs on all sides need to ensure anyone affected by this scandal is dealt with as a matter of urgency.

Brexit has made this country look small-minded and isolationist. And the aggression shown towards many people who have lived here for years and paid taxes for years has not helped. Maybe this debacle will make this government, and the ones that follow, think about humans first and immigration targets second.

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