Year in a word: Windrush
Britons were appalled at the harassment and wrongful deportation of immigrants
WINDRUSH: (noun) The ship that carried Caribbean passengers to the UK to fill the postwar labour shortage; recently adopted for a scandal of the same name where these immigrants and their descendants were harassed and removed.
Photographs and newsreel footage of the June 1948 arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush at Tilbury docks in
Essex show lines of skinny, sharply dressed men sporting hats and jazzy suits, disembarking with their suitcases and talking to reporters about a new life in London. These optimistic arrivals were the
first of a wave that continued until 1971, when new laws restricted further immigration but confirmed the right to remain for Commonwealth citizens already living in the UK. These
immigrants, and their families, boosted the public sector workforce in highly visible roles and passed into the UK’s national story. At the 2012 London
Olympics, a model of the Windrush was borne aloft by actors in the opening ceremony portraying the evolution of modern Britain. This year it emerged that as part
of the “hostile environment ” policy, immigration authorities had been wrongly detaining and deporting members of the “Windrush generation” and denying them National Health Service care.
Britons were appalled at the callousness of bureaucrats separating the families of fellow citizens.
Some of this happened because of documentation destroyed by the Home Office, some because of zealous efforts to hit immigration removals targets. Denying that such targets existed cost Amber Rudd her job as home secretary in April.
Her successor Sajid Javid, whose parents arrived from Pakistan in the 1960s, claimed recently that public outrage about the Windrush cases demonstrated Britain’s compassionate character. For others, noting that new
aspects of the scandal are still being uncovered, the name has become a source of shame.
Britons were appalled at the callousness of bureaucrats separating the families of fellow citizens
It is unclear how many people belong to the Windrush generation, since many of those who arrived as children travelled on parents’ passports and never applied for travel documents, but they are thought to be in their thousands