FIFTY years after Enoch Powell’s incendiary ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, its legacy is the polarising debate on immigration that underpinned the Brexit referendum – and a tawdry political response to the Windrush scandal.
In contrast to the foreboding of Mr Powell, multi-culturalism has been one of Britain’s greatest advances and much of this country’s prosperity and vitality can be attributed to migrant families who have made their home here.
Proud citizens, they don’t deserve the abuse that some have received as a result of a national debate which has lost nuance because successive governments failed to get to grips with illegal immigration. As both main parties blame each other for destroying the boarding papers of Windrush generation migrants from the Caribbean, and Lord Kerslake, the former head of the Civil Service, reveals the misgivings of those in power who believed Theresa May’s immigration policy was “almost reminiscent of Nazi Germany”, some context is key.
It was John Reid – a Home Secretary in Tony Blair’s government – who said the Home Office was unfit for purpose after it freed 1,023 foreign prisoners who should have been considered for deportation. Conversely, Mrs May and now Amber Rudd, the current Home Secretary, have been insensitive to the problems faced by those Windrush families without the correct paperwork.
If past and present Ministers had been more effective policy practitioners, and were more focused on deporting those who have no right to reside here, the issue of immigration would, in all likelihood, be less divisive.