I am not very often lost for words but the events that have transpired this week in the Windrush controversy have left me speechless. For the sake of a lost piece of paper many people who have lived in Britain since the 1940s and 1950s have lost their jobs and had their whole lives thrown into question.
As a libertarian, I rarely get the opportunity to jump on any sort of bandwagon. So you will forgive me for enthusiastically hopping aboard this one. Obviously, this scandal is an utter disgrace. But the claim that Theresa May has created a ‘hostile environment’ for these long naturalised British citizens requires further analysis.
Radio 4 recently caused a stir because they decided to air Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech in full. I always knew about the speech but was never really aware of the enormous public support that Powell received after he was dismissed (in what must be one of the biggest acts of career suicide in modern British history).
People such as myself, who are in favour of more liberal border controls are in a tricky position here. The vast majority of the British public do not support this policy direction, and yet every year more migrants come to the UK. Year after year politicians promise to radically reduce migration but they fail. The reason they fail is that reducing immigration is for all practical purposes impossible.
Immigration makes economic and political sense. Not only does it bring valuable workers to Britain but it sends a positive message to the rest of the world. Furthermore, if Theresa May tried to limit the number of migrants to the ‘tens of thousands’ as she has said, chaos would ensue. The political benefit of actually sticking to her promise would be outweighed by images of families being turned away at airports and the imposition of some arbitrary selection process for foreign migrants. The Windrush scandal is a clear signal of a system that is doomed to failure.
Time and time again the state has shown itself to be totally inept when it comes to immigration. Ultimately, it is not Theresa May’s fault that there is a hostile atmosphere to migration. In this instance, that state has promised to do something that it is literally not able to do. This compounds the woes of a government with no real agenda. Theresa May’s premiership highlights one of the main problems with the conservative party, that it has no real ideology, no guiding principals. So in times like these when some kind of unifying principle would be useful, the government is left floundering.
The Windrush scandal is not over yet. There is more pain to come for the Conservatives.