Columns

Windrush, Brexit and a 'Curry crisis'

Jean Lowrie-Chin

Monday, July 08, 2019

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We learned about the #WidenWindrush campaign from our relative angel, Lorraine Young, during a recent visit to London. Young and her mother, Fay, serve on a committee led by her Member of Parliament (MP), Janet Daby, which has been calling for an amendment to the Windrush scheme which “would provide a route to citizenship for the descendants and family members of the Windrush generation”.

At a briefing held on June 19, MP Daby explained that the Windrush scheme had been set up “to address the difficulties faced by members of the Windrush generation, large numbers of whom were prevented from working and subjected to detention/removal as a result of hostile environment policies”. She noted that, “It established the basis for the Windrush task force to expedite these cases without fees and ensuring speedy documentation was issued. It is the central practical measure introduced to remedy [what] this important generation had been subject to.”

The briefing noted that the roots of the Windrush scandal started from the discriminatory aspects of the 1971 Immigration Act, “which (along with the 1968 legislation) came into being on the back of a racist backlash to black and Asian immigration, led by Enoch Powell”.

Note this important point: “The 1971 Act cemented the rights of those who were born British in the colonies and Commonwealth and were already settled in Britain, not as full British citizens, but as people with the right to be treated as if they were British citizens.”

To quote our favourite English playwright, William Shakespeare, “There's the rub.” The words “as if” meant that the Windrush generation and their descendants would still be regarded as second-class citizens. This is in stark contrast to the privilege granted to residents of “the older colonies” mentioned in the Act, namely the US and Australia, who could easily claim British citizenship through its Patriality clause.

Now that there is wide recognition of the Windrush generation's contribution to the development of Britain, MP Daby says it is unacceptable that their descendants and family members continue to be subject to removal and detention.

We heard the stories of relatives being detained and threatened with deportations. There are many appeals on their behalf now pending.

A “BAME Summit” is being planned for later this month as the committee is concerned about the racist undertones of the Brexit movement. The briefing noted, “Brexit lays the basis for another Windrush scandal, and is Britain's contribution to dangerous, growing white nationalism across Europe that physically threatens our sisters and brothers settled and arriving from Africa, Asia and the Middle East regions.”

Individuals interested in participating in the BAME Summit may contact Antonia Bright, Black Members Officer, SOAS Unison; Henry Roberts and Jocelyn Cruywagen, Lambeth Black Workers Group.

My friend Rita Mitra was kind enough to take me to Windrush Square in Brixton, where I placed flowers at a memorial to honour African and Caribbean soldiers who had served in World Wars I and II in memory of my dear Dad, who served in the Royal Air Force. She hosted us at a famous Indian restaurant in Euston called Diwana. With Indian food being so popular in Britain, folks are concerned about a looming “curry crisis”.

According to a report in the Evening Standard, “Curry house bosses told how they felt 'used', 'let down', and may have been given 'false hope' by politicians that quitting the EU would allow more workers in from South Asia to address staff shortages.”

Bloomberg reported on the losses of leading Indian restaurateur Syed Joynu: “This was nothing like what he was promised in the Brexit campaign he supported… Immigration has become tighter, business has suffered, and the workers from eastern Europe he had come to rely on have fled. Getting chefs over to work in Britain's cherished Indian and Bangladeshi restaurants is near impossible under current immigration laws.”

The report quotes Joynu: “We didn't realise what would happen after Brexit, and thought we'd be better off. If there's a second vote now I'd vote to remain in the EU.”

In spite of these ripples, we tourists had a great time in England. We had an extensive tour of the Houses of Parliament, courtesy of Lorraine Young; enjoyed lunch at the popular Happy Halibut; and visited family at Coulsdon and in Cambridge. Imagine attending the Cambridge Midsummer Fair in its 808th year! The countryside is beautiful, and we felt especially blessed at the sung mass at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and the English Martyrs.

Congratulations, Richard Byles

Heartiest congratulations to Richard Byles, who will succeed Brian Wynter as governor of the Bank of Jamaica. Having seen the success of Sagicor under his watch, and his leadership of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC), we are assured that the Bank of Jamaica will be in good hands.

We owe outgoing Governor Brian Wynter a debt of gratitude for his keen stewardship. Jamaica is blessed in having such outstanding professionals to guide our great institutions.

Happy 95th, Daphne King

She was the trailblazing executive at Air Jamaica who outdanced her young colleagues and continues to serve as a special minister of the Eucharist at Stella Maris Church. This Saturday, Daphne King, matriarch of the outstanding King family, celebrates her 95th birthday. She walks unaided, straight and strong, and is a noted fashionista. She recently wowed the Nurses' Association Tea Party with a prize-winning ensemble.

We give thanks for the faith and joie de vivre of our beloved friend. Happy 95th birthday, dear Daphne!

Farewell, outstanding Jamaicans

One of the strongest and wittiest leaders I have ever met was Rev C Evans Bailey, who chaired Radio Jamaica Limited for decades and the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast Committee for several years. Elegant and urbane, he held his audiences with wit and wisdom, and moved us with his heartfelt prayers. We extend condolence to his devoted wife, Dr Barbara Bailey, and other members of his family.

The tributes keep pouring in for Martin Henry, who was head of the School of Graduate Studies, Research and Entrepreneurship at the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech). A celebrated columnist and commentator, he is former chairman and director of the National Integrity Action (NIA).

UTech President Professor Stephen Vasciannie noted, “Martin was particularly impressive in his work; he was always thorough, worked ahead of schedule, and brought his skills of careful organisation and innovation to all our activities.”

Condolence to his wife, Jacqueline Garvey-Henry and other members of his family.

Brascoe Lee, entrepreneur, former Government minister, former MP for Trelawny Southern and National Democratic Movement executive member, passed away last week. He created Spicy Hills Farms in Wait-A-Bit, Trelawny, 12 years ago, and enjoyed much success in manufacturing and exporting Jamaican favourites. Condolence to his wife and family, as well as his close-knit team at Spicy Hills who are mourning the loss of an outstanding patriot and innovator.

lowriechin@aim.com

www.lowrie-chin.blogspot.com


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