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

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