By Phillipa Anamoah-
Former Secretary’s treatment “crackdown” Policies on the Windrush Generation
Lord Kerslake, the former head of the civil service assessment of Theresa May’s policies during her time as Home Secretary paints a dark picture of the Home Office.
His conclusion made to BBC 2’s Newsnight today saying that the policy introduced by the home Secretary Theresa May caused ministers to be “deeply unhappy” because of the “hostile environment” she created for immigrants, is causing a stir in many circles.
“There were some ministers who saw it (I won’t name them) as reminiscent of Nazi Germany in the way it was working”
Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs responded to Kerslake’s statement on the BBC Radio Today programme saying that he had never heard such a comparison before,
“I have never heard anyone make that comparison before Lord Kerslake did. It is not for me to criticise a distinguished former public servant like Lord Kerslake, but I respectfully disagree.”
Today it was revealed that the government ran its own internal assessment in regards to the policy, which aimed to create the ‘hostile environment’. It cautioned that some older non-UK born immigrants may have difficulties in providing documentation of their status and may have had their immigration records destroyed and some may have arrived under a previous legislation.
The eradication of the Windrush generation’s documentation has caused much commotion within the House of Commons, it remains to be seen how the tense political climate around this topic will be resolved. The emergence of news that the landing cards for passengers were destroyed by the Home Office rather than preserved in the archives, has opened a can of worms in this troubling matter. Art historian and former advisor to the National Archives, Dr Bendor Grosvenor, claimed in an interview with the Times that the Home Office may have broken the law by destroying this historical evidence because they contained personal information under the Data Protection Act.
“We know from other Windrush archives that such important records are not only historically important but full of personal information, he ‘data protection’ reason given by the Home Office is incorrect. Therefore, I don’t see how this destruction can be lawful, under the requirements of the Public Records Act.”
No one has discovered who specifically authorised the destruction of the records, yet Grosvenor indicated that the Archives may have had the documents destroyed due to budget cuts as it is simpler to “just destroy things” he commented.
But at this point of the controversy, which has over 100 individuals who arrived in the UK before 1973 facing the atrocities of removed healthcare, pension plans and deportation threats, how necessary is it to find someone to blame? The current conservative government are being held accountable despite May stating that the decision to destroy the records was authorised by the Labour government in 2009. But rather than playing the ‘blame-game’ officials should take the initiative to discuss rationally and sensibly in order to come to a conclusion that effectively addresses these hostile policies. Deporting legal immigrants from a country in which they have been granted legal status is a huge debacle bound to leave deep wounds.
In this age of austerity, policy crackdowns and “hostile environments” the seemingly strong comparison with Nazi Germany and Theresa’s UK is not all that alarming. The wiping out of personal passenger records is, in all honesty, a lousy and lamentable revelation and justifies heavy statements from both government officials and the public.