But of course Windrush Day is also a day for anger at injustice. For, despite their immense contribution, the Windrush Generation and their descendants have faced discrimination and mistreatment on a terrible scale, such that now the word Windrush is as likely to be associated with the word ‘Scandal’ as anything else. The ‘Hostile Environment’ policy implemented by Theresa May treated people who were legally resident in this country as if they were criminals. It has led to people losing their jobs and their access to basic services, and in some cases even being deported or denied the ability to return to the UK. Of course all of this has led to untold emotional and mental anguish for too many innocent people, including my friend, Jaswha Moses, who died before he could use the British Passport granted to him after years of fighting for the right to be here.
The Government response to this scandal has been nothing short of shameful. Instead of admitting their mistake and doing everything they could to put it right, they have sought to cover it up and get on with business as usual. The Hostile Environment, whilst no longer the official language of government policy, is still absolutely alive and kicking. And the Windrush Compensation Scheme, set up to supposedly make recompense to those who have suffered, has thus far given out just £360,000 to 60 people.
The Windrush Lessons Learned Review, conducted by Wendy Williams, was conveniently published at the moment of maximum attention on the Covid-19 emergency at the end of March. It sets out in gory detail exactly what went wrong, as well as many sensible measures that the Government could take to put things right and make sure that such a scandal never happens again. We must all, therefore, play our part in holding the Government to account for their response to this review. And until that time when our national policy reflects the respect and dignity due to all those who come here from overseas to make Bristol their home, we must mark Windrush Day as a moment to redouble our efforts to fight for change.