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Anchor Windrush: keep fighting for justice

Over a year on from the eruption of the Windrush scandal, the government is still failing its victims writes DIANE ABBOTT MP

EVEN Deputy Prime Minister David Lidington recently called into question the government’s policy on capping compensation for certain categories of loss for victims of the Windrush scandal.

Presented with the government’s proposed compensation figures on The Andrew Marr Show, he seemed to contradict the Home Office approach to setting compensation amounts, saying: “I think it depends on each individual case and I’m sure if there’s evidence of injustice that is something that home office ministers will look at.”

When asked if it was a disgrace that a victim of the Windrush scandal Albert Thompson could be given just £500 compensation after being denied cancer treatment, Lidington said “clearly on the account you’ve given to me that was a disgrace.”

This admission by the deputy prime minister that the compensation offered to a victim of Theresa May’s hostile environment is a “disgrace” should be a wake-up call for this government.

And in saying that compensation “depends on each individual case,” Lidington directly contradicted the government’s woefully inadequate compensation policy recently announced by Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

The home secretary had previously said there would be “no limit” to the amount of money that could be paid to victims of the Windrush scandal, but then set out plans that included caps on compensation with regards to certain categories of loss.

Furthermore, the home secretary and the government propose to make a contribution towards legal fees only up to a fixed amount and will not reimburse for fees higher than that amount.

This is despite the fact that these legal costs, which are easily documented, were incurred in challenging wrongful loss of jobs, deprivation of public services including the NHS, loss of home, wrongful detention and wrongful deportation.

There will be also no compensation for private healthcare for persons living in this country who were unable to access the NHS care they were entitled to.

Just over year on from the eruption of the Windrush scandal, it’s vital to keep up the pressure on this issue, both to find out the truth about what really happened, and in terms of the ongoing fight for justice for the victims of the scandal.

It’s particularly important to remember just what the Windrush scandal has involved, namely British citizens being wrongly deported, being prevented from returning home, being denied cancer treatment and vital healthcare, and many losing their jobs.

Now, after having their lives torn apart, what the victims of the scandal are being offered in terms of compensation is totally inadequate, having already faced this long delay.

Labour is clear that this compensation scheme announced by the government has fallen woefully short of its expectation and of what is fair.

It does not go nearly far enough to try to remedy the injustice and hardship members of the Windrush generation have faced at the hands of May’s government.

To give a further specific example, a flat payment of £500 for people denied access to higher education is pitiful when research showed the value of higher education over a lifetime amounts to tens of thousands of pounds.

Moving forward, if we are to really learn the lessons of Windrush, and to make sure the scandal isn’t repeated, this means honestly assessing how false rhetoric on protecting our borders and immigration led directly to it.

The reality is that this scandal did not fall from the sky. It was a product of government policy.

And in terms of government policy, it’s important to remember that the whole Tory Party and the Lib Dems voted for the 2014 Immigration Act and implemented their “hostile environment.” As part of this, we had May as home secretary with her “Go Home” vans and announcing that she would “deport first, appeal later.”

As home secretary, the current prime minister prided herself on developing policies that have resulted in British citizens who arrived as part of the Windrush generation losing their homes, jobs and livelihoods.

An important factor that needs to be recognised when talking about Windrush is that official policy, ministerial rhetoric and media coverage consistently fails to treat migrants as people.

Despite various relaunches in both Amber Rudd and Javid’s tenures as home secretary, this fundamental element has not changed.

This government has been disgracefully slow to do the right thing by the Windrush generation. Now it won’t compensate people who were refused re-entry to this country.

Now, they are still failing to address this scandal, which will continue until they end the hostile environment.

Labour is clear. We will not rest until there is justice for the Windrush generation and we will end the failed “hostile environment” approach for good. As part of this, we have committed to scrapping of the Immigration Act of 2014, which enshrined May’s “hostile environment” into law.

Furthermore, Labour has not only exposed these cruel policies of the Windrush scandal but has also outlined the steps that a Labour government will take to end these outrages and outlined what a fair immigration policy will look like in the future.

Like on so many issues the Tories are failing on, the Tories have shown they simply can’t deliver when it comes to truth and justice for the victims of the Windrush scandal.

It’s time for the Tories to step aside and let Labour deliver a new, fairer approach.

You can follow Diane at www.facebook.com/dianeabbott and www.twitter.com/hackneyabbott

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