2018 highs and lows: The Windrush scandal which shamed a nation

2018 highs and lows: The Windrush scandal which shamed a nation
2018 highs and lows: The Windrush scandal which shamed a nation

By Ben Kelly

Low: The Windrush Scandal

Aah, so many potential low points to choose from. I'm spoilt for choice. The government's mishandling of Brexit offers a wide range of tempting options, but I'm going to have to go for the Windrush scandal. Despite all the incompetence, ignorance and dogmatism being exposed by Brexit, it's Windrush that above all else truly shocked me and made me feel genuinely ashamed of the country.

To bring about a reduction in immigration, a set of policies called the Hostile Environment was introduced, designed to pressure migrants to prove their right to remain and encourage them to leave. Theresa May supported the policy and, as home secretary, pushed the Home Office to do whatever it could to achieve the arbitrary 100,000 target, so flippantly introduced by the ever-careless David Cameron. 

As it was purportedly designed to target illegal immigrants, it had public support. But most people could not possibly have known the horrible reality of its implementations nor account for the sheer incompetence and insensitivity of the Home Office.


The result of the concerted effort to implement an ill-thought-out policy is a shameful level of inhumanity being shown towards people that have made a home in this country and been treated wretchedly. It's a national embarrassment. Let's be clear here, the Windrush scandal was about the mistreatment of our own.

Thousands of people who arrived in the UK as children in the first wave of Commonwealth immigration have been targeted and threatened with deportation. Many have been forced into destitution, others deported to countries they don't think of as their home. Honestly, we cannot be disgusted and embarrassed enough by this.

Just think on it. Many of the Windrush generation came to Britain with high hopes and were disappointed to be greeted with prejudice and suspicion in a struggling country recovering from war. Over the years they've seen our society change for the better. Britain has moved on. We as a people have become more tolerant and comfortable with a diverse and open national identity.

In that context, the Windrush generation have thought of themselves as British, worked here and raised families. How sad that the Home Office must have made them suddenly feel that nothing has changed at all. They are no more welcome than when they arrived. They have, once again, been Othered. Their roots, their names and the colour of their skin means they are not British like the rest of us.

The Home Office is broken, dysfunctional, underfunded and implementing bad policy cruelly and incompetently. The signs are ominous for the treatment of EU nationals in the future. As the government's white paper shows plans for a far more restrictive immigration policy, we cannot possibly be confident that this sort of disgrace will be avoided in future.

High: The net closing in on Donald Trump

It wasn't easy to think of a highlight. Politics in 2018 hasn't been a happy place, so I've opted for a chink of light in the darkness. Expert opinion indicates that testimony from Michael Cohen has the potential to be devastating for President Donald Trump. I'm allowing myself to hope.

The United States of America is a great country. Yes, there is much we can justly criticise, and even to us Britons - with our obsession with its politics and admiration for US culture – it's a country that often bewilders and infuriates. I believe that the USA is a force for good in the world. Now that China, an authoritarian police state which abuses human rights and considers itself an enemy of liberal democracy, increases in power and influence, we may miss the days of American hegemony.

Its rise requires a strong United States. Instead, we have a crook in the White House, a plutocratic demagogue completely incapable of performing the role. People call Trump a fascist, a nationalist and more. I don't. He hasn't got enough conviction to be any of these things. He's narcissistic to the point of sociopathy. I don't believe he has love for his country or its people. He has no coherent ideology. He only has love for himself and his brand.

The man is a fraud and an enemy within. His ascendancy is a symptom of something very rotten in the republic and the healing process cannot possibly begin until he is removed from the Office he is disgracing. His obsessive supporters will cry conspiracy, but it will be a great day when he is finally exposed for the criminal shyster that he is.

There have been revelations about his illegal use of campaign funds and his dodgy property dealings but the worst (or best?) is yet to come. The prosecutor Jeannie Rhee described at the Cohen hearing how much help he had been to the investigation into alleged collusion between the campaign and Moscow. Watch this space. I hope that the highlight of 2019 will be the indictments coming Trump's way.

Ben Kelly is a commentator for Reaction. You can follow him on Twitter here.

The opinions in politics.co.uk's Comment and Analysis section are those of the author and are no reflection of the views of the website or its owners.

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