Some have used Windrush issue for their own ends
HAYES IN THE HOUSE: By MP John Hayes
Last week the Government admitted that an awful mistake was made over those who travelled from the West Indies in the 1940s, 50s and 60s to what many of them regarded as their ‘mother country’.
Thankfully, these ‘Windrush’ Britons are now being granted what they are owed and offered recompense for what happened.
Years ago, I agreed to serve as chairman of the British Caribbean Association – a body formed in 1958 to forge good relations between those very ‘Windrush’ immigrants and indigenous Britons. I came to know many of the ‘Windrush generation’ – who having come to help rebuild this country after the war, have since worked here, paid taxes here and had their children here. They are British and I am proud to know them.
So, the current debacle is about Britons who, in 2009 – quite wrongly – had evidence of their citizenship destroyed. But, over past days, those who are ideologically driven by denial of the damage done by mass migration have used the Windsrush issue for their own ends.
Poll after poll shows that Britons, no matter what their political persuasion, oppose the current level of mass migration, as every day they see its damaging effects. Briton’s know they have never been consulted on the vast changes to the place they live, and they don’t like it.
The evidence shows their doubts are well-founded.
The effect of mass migration on Britons’ wages was made clear in The Bank of England report in late 2015, which, in the words of Lord Green; ‘found a significant negative impact on those in the lower skilled services sector in which six million UK born are working. This amounts to nearly a quarter of all British jobs’.
The same effect can be seen in the housing market. With developmental charity, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, acknowledging that migration ‘is a very significant phenomenon’ that ‘has become more important than births and deaths in determining population…Often, migration tends to leave behind the poorest and most vulnerable.’
It’s true, of course, that in advanced economies people leave and enter and we can’t pull up a draw-bridge, but it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that current levels of immigration are far too high. For never before in the history of our islands has the population grown so much, so quickly and the consequent pressure on our public services does no one any good.
Those that do come here legally deserve a warm welcome, but they must abide by our laws, respect our customs, learn our language and come to appreciate the norms and values which make Britain tick. Through the process of integration, built on the foundation of speaking English, a shared sense of belonging can develop so that the things which unite us are more significant than those about which we differ. Quite simply, immigration that goes beyond sustainable levels makes such integration much harder to achieve.
From wherever people come, if they are as proud to be British as the Windrush generation, a bond of common identity, shared with their neighbours, provides the chance to make communities cohere.
That’s how society works, and how our country can thrive.