Black Britons and belonging: Meghan Markle versus the Windrush generation: Balkissoon

Appropriate and sharp contrast:

There are two big stories right now about black migrants in Britain, but only one is fun to pay attention to.

That would be that Meghan Markle, an American with a black mother and white father, is marrying Prince Harry. A beautiful, biracial commoner starring in a royal wedding is a fairy tale about race and Britishness the Crown can get behind. It’s a much better image than half a million black and brown citizens facing possible deportation.

But that, too, is currently happening: In fact, the Windrush scandal, as it’s known, became public around the same time as the Royal engagement, last November. That’s when The Guardian began publishing stories about people losing their health benefits, being put into immigration detention or being deported even though they had been citizens since birth.

These Britons were born in pre-independence Commonwealth countries, once considered far-flung parts of Britain itself. After the Second World War, when the U.K. was hit with a serious labour shortage, it appealed to the Queen’s global subjects to fill the void. Among the thousands that answered the call were the passengers of the MV Empire Windrush, which landed in June 1948 full of British citizens from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean islands.

That ship’s name has become a rallying cry for a generation: West Indians, South Asians and others who were told that arriving before the early 1970s gave them “the right to remain” in their supposed mother country. The problem is that now, decades later, much of the Windrush generation don’t have the paperwork to prove when they got there.

Many were children when they arrived, travelling on their parents’ passports. Few knew that the government was in possession of ship landing cards that could prove their arrival date – or that in 2010, the U.K. Border Agency began destroying them.

Two years after legal proof that thousands of mostly non-white people had a right to be in the U.K. disappeared, then-Home Secretary (or immigration minister) Theresa May introduced “hostile environment” policies meant to deter unwanted migrants. At least 50,000 of the over 500,000 Commonwealth citizens who moved to the U.K. in the Windrush period don’t have British passports: thousands of lives have been disrupted.

Sylvester Marshall, for example, learned he was an “illegal immigrant” when he went to replace a lost driver’s license. Mr. Marshall, who has worked and paid taxes in the U.K. for 44 years, had his cancer treatment delayed when he suddenly became ineligible for health-care.

Most of these people are senior citizens now, and many have lost their jobs or their rental homes or been put into immigration detention. At least 63 people seem to have been wrongfully deported, dark-skinned collateral damage in Ms. May’s anti-immigration offensive.

Meanwhile, Kensington Palace has bravely embraced its first openly non-white family member (rumours swirl about the possible African ancestry of Queen Charlotte, born in 1744). Prince Harry told the tabloids to stop being mean to his girlfriend, Princess Michael of Kent was made to apologize for wearing racist jewellery and the rest of us are supposed to be impressed.

Many are accepting these crumbs from the royal table, such as young Tshego Lengolo, who lives in working-class southeast London. The 11-year-old told the New York Times that she knows what it’s like to move to a new country, and that she’s ready to be Ms. Markle’s friend. My heart hurts for children fooled by such sad scraps of belonging, but I have no time for adult women penning paeans to the first “black princess.”

First of all, Ms. Markle will likely be given the title of duchess, which is a yawn. More importantly, like Kate Middleton and Diana Spencer before her, she’ll be giving up her career to be a wife. None of the bridesmaids in her wedding party will be little black girls like Tshego, and any children she bears will never reach the throne.

As far as updating the monarchy as a symbol for the modern world, these nuptials are fairly surface level − especially in a country coping with a scandal like Windrush.

Ms. Markle isn’t jumping the citizenship queue: becoming officially British will take her about three years. Perhaps that’s enough time for the Windrush generation to achieve fairness. There’s been a flurry of apologies and resignations, and talk of compensation is growing louder.

Will those who lost their jobs be given back pay? Will Mr. Marshall survive his cancer? By 2021, Ms. Markle will officially be a black Briton and, maybe, the Windrushers who were sent away will have made it back home.

via Black Britons and belonging: Meghan Markle versus the Windrush generation – The Globe and Mail

Immigration has been good for Britain. It’s time to bust the myths

Revealing media and other analysis underlying the opinions:

Cut the niceties. Skip the jargon. Let us speak the plain truth, however ugly. What is driving this country headlong into a chaotic and punishing Brexit is a blind desire to cut immigration. That’s why people voted to leave the EU, politicians and pundits tell us. That’s what makes a Norway-style deal impossible, since it would almost certainly allow freedom of movement with mainland Europe – and any prime minister accepting that would be strung up by the press for treachery.

As long as Brexit is a synonym for keeping out foreigners, there can be no hope for meaningful compromise with the rest of the EU. The Lords can inflict endless defeats on Theresa May. An entire dinosaur gallery of has-been politicians can clamber on rice sacks to issue grave warnings. All will be drowned out by this one guttural roar.

Yet the anti-migrant arguments are a toxic alloy of barefaced lies and naked bigotry. None are new. But they were feverishly circulated in the days before the 2016 referendum. This time, crucially, migrants were made scapegoats for the misery caused by the government’s own drastic spending cuts – for a buckling NHS, a cash-starved school system and falling wages.

The definitive guide to how that happened is a study from King’s College London, which analyses almost 15,000 articles published online during the Brexit campaign by 20 news outlets, including the BBC and all the national papers. Despite its thoroughness, the media has barely covered it – perhaps unsurprisingly given what it implies about the state of our press.

Researchers found immigration to be the most prominent issue in the 10 weeks running up to the vote, leading 99 front pages. Of those, more than three-quarters were from the four most virulently leave newspapers: the Sun, the Mail, the Express and the Telegraph. Brexiteers fed their papers’ scare stories about immigration – no matter how scurrilous. Recall how Penny Mordaunt and the Vote Leave campaign claimed that Turkish murderers and terrorists were queueing up to come to the UK. Never mind that David Cameron immediately decried the lie. Never mind that this is the same country for whose tyrant leader Mordaunt, Theresa May and the rest rolled out the red carpet this week. Anything to fling some mud and get a headline.

“When not associated with rape, murder or violence, migrants were often characterised as job stealers or benefit tourists,” observes the academics’ report. So grab-handedly abhorrent were these newcomers that they were simultaneously taking our jobs and stealing our dole money. Or else they were jostling British mothers out of maternity wards and cramming their kids into British classrooms.

Such poisonous stories were happily ventriloquised by Boris Johnson, Liam Fox, Chris Grayling and Michael Gove. Their reward for helping to generate the hatred that will scar this country for years was, naturally, a big job in government. Their targets, on the other hand, have to live in a society in which racial prejudice is not just normalised but tacitly encouraged by cabinet ministers.

Yet time and time again, the politicians’ claims were false. The men and women who have come here from Budapest or Prague are like previous generations of arrivals: young, educated at someone else’s expense and here to work. They aren’t low-skilled labour but what former government economist Jonathan Portes describes as “ordinary, productive, middle income, middle-skilled – the sort of people our economy actually needs”. Study after study has failed to find any evidence of significant undercutting of wages. Far from jumping the queue, analysis published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows they are much less likely to be on benefits or in social housing than their UK-born counterparts.

Migrants from eastern Europe pay billions more in taxes to Britain than they take out in public spending. Far from squeezing hospitals and schools, they subsidise and even staff them. Rather than take jobs, they help create them. What has drained money from our public services and held down our wages is the banking crash, and the Tories’ spending cuts. As former Bank of England rate-setter David Blanchflower concludes in a forthcoming book on Brexit and Trump: “Government-imposed austerity has meant their money [migrants’ taxes] has not been used to finance the services they are entitled to, hence the overcrowding.” In one of the most breathtakingly cynical moves of our time, the very same ministers making the cuts looked at the fallout they created – and blamed migrants.

The Tories haven’t created this climate alone, of course. From Tony Blair to Ed Miliband, Labour leaders have marched alongside, muttering about “legitimate concerns” and handing out anti-immigration mugs. Forget about the evidence or leadership or having a backbone. Never mind the surveys showing that however much people dislike immigration in the abstract, they appreciate migrants.

Imagine Labour repealing gay marriage to placate misguided voters, or restricting women from working in order to boost wages for men. You cannot. But torching non-British workers in order to score political points is still deemed acceptable.

As shadow home secretary Diane Abbott observed , the point about pandering to racism – or whatever euphemistic camouflage you want to stick on it – is that it’s a beast whose appetite is never satisfied. One day the target is immigrants without documents; the next it’s a “swarm” of Poles and 100 Indian doctors blocked from taking up their hospital jobs; and by the end of the week it’s 63 of the Windrush generation deported, and countless more plunged into poverty and homelessness.

Having spoken up for migrants during the referendum, Jeremy Corbynthankfully does not share this same soft racism. But neither is he doing enough to challenge it. Among the six tests Labour’s Keir Starmer has set for Brexit is the familiar dog-whistle about “fair management of migration”.

Labour frontbenchers evidently believe they have to promise a Brexit that is sufficiently racist for the press and the hard right. In the old Blairite days, we’d have called this triangulation – take minority-ethnic support for granted, while wooing leave voters. Whatever it’s called, it’s a tawdry tactic that soon gets rumbled.

The point about opinions is that they can be shifted. Just see what Corbyn’s team has achieved on austerity in two years. What was once an economic orthodoxy is now recognised as a failure – because Labour stood up for both the evidence and its own better instincts. There are plenty of parallels here: a policy dreamed up by the Tory right, to which the left shamefacedly paid lip service; a mounting body of evidence that it was wrong; and at ground level a lasting legacy of stunted and broken lives. Austerity was urgent in 2010, essential in 2015 and is a relic in 2018. Much of the credit for that should go to Corbyn’s party. Now it should do the same with immigration.

Or else, as one Corbynite frontbencher admits: “You can’t keep telling West Yorkshire one thing, and Islington another.” And you won’t avert a hard Brexit until you face down the intolerance that is driving it.

Source: Immigration has been good for Britain. It’s time to bust the myths

Sadiq Khan: UK citizenship fees leave children in limbo

In Canada, issue is adult fees of $530 (plus $100 right of citizenship). Previous government did not change fees for children ($100 plus $100 for the same right of citizenship):

Children and teenagers born in Britain are being left in limbo without access to education or employment because of £1,000 fees to gain citizenship, Sadiq Khanhas said, saying the government may face another Windrush-style scandal.

The mayor of London said the fees many young people were forced to pay were unacceptably high, given that most had lived most or all of their lives in the UK, but did not officially have British citizenship.

Most of the young people involved came to the UK with their parents as babies or small children, or were born in the UK to parents who migrated here.

Most teenagers do not realise they do not have secure status until they apply for post-18 education and are rejected because they cannot access funding or student loans. Instead, universities will class them as international students, charging them tens of thousands of pounds.

Without settled status, young adults may find themselves unable to rent a home, access healthcare, open bank accounts or start a job, under “hostile environment” restrictions introduced by the government, once they leave full-time education.

More than 159,000 Londoners aged 24 and under were found to be in this position by research from 2007. Khan said he was commissioning research to understand whether the problem had risen since new immigration restrictions came into force over the past decade.

“The recent Windrush scandal has shone a light on an immigration system that is simply unfit for purpose,” Khan said. “These young Londoners have lived most, if not all, of their lives in this country.”

Khan said it was shameful that young people, many born in Britain, found themselves barred from working or learning.

The mayor said the government “profit on their circumstances, despite the amazing contribution they make to our city and our country”.

The government needed to both streamline the application process and waive the “astronomically high” fees to affirm their citizenship, he added.

In April 2018, the cost for a child to register as a British citizen was £1,012 and £1,330 for an adult to naturalise their citizenship. The charity Citizens UK has calculated that much of the fee is profit – about £640 – compared with the £372 administration cost.

Those who were not born in the UK, but were brought to London as young children, face additional immigration fees of £8,521 over a 10-year period.

The executive director of Citizens UK, Neil Jameson, said it was “a huge own goal to deprive young people with bright futures of education when now more than ever Britain needs to extend a hand of welcome”.

The sums can put huge pressures on families who wish to register their children as British citizens, which is possible after a child has been in the country for 10 years. Some parents may still have uncertain immigration status, with no right to work and no recourse to public funds, meaning they can be effectively destitute.

…A Home Office spokeswoman said the fees took into account the wider costs of running the immigration system, saying it was “funded by those who benefit from it” in order to reduce taxpayer expense.

“There are exceptions to visa application fees to protect the most vulnerable, such as for young people who are in the care of a local authority,” she added.

Source: Sadiq Khan: UK citizenship fees leave children in limbo

UK: Sajid Javid has a unique opportunity to change the toxic debate over immigration. But he might not be allowed to

Interesting analysis of Gresham’s law as applied to immigration debates in the UK and the challenges (and opportunity) facing the new Home Secretary:

Amber Rudd’s departure has not eased the pressure on the government over the Windrush scandal. The questions keep on coming. This afternoon Labour is urging the Commons to ask ministers to publish all the government documents relating to the affair since 2010, which could shed new light on Theresa May’s involvement as home secretary.

Sajid Javid, Rudd’s successor, must answer claims that senior officials were paid bonuses for hitting targets for deporting illegal immigrants and that foreign students were wrongly deported over language tests. There are also suggestions May blocked moves to lift a cap on visas for foreign doctors that the NHS needed.

Javid must design a new system for EU migration post-Brexit which does not repeat the Windrush mistakes. That’s before he turns his attention to the rise in violent crime, the terrorist threat and other nasties lurking in the woodwork that we don’t know about.

Javid made an encouraging start by ditching May’s rhetoric about a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants, which indirectly caused the Windrush scandal. But his move has worried right-wing Conservative MPs, who fear he is going soft on “illegals”. In fact, Javid has not changed the policy, merely its label. Some Tories, including May, are convinced the public are on their side on “illegals” and therefore bring the conversation back to this topic at every opportunity.

Of course, people are against illegal activity. The UK does have a problem regarding illegal immigration. But talking about that to the exclusion of everything else risks repeating the mistakes of both Tory and Labour politicians for the past 20 years. They have assumed the worst on public opinion and pandered to it. Labour talked tough to prevent the Tories exploiting immigration. The Tories ramped up the rhetoric to combat Ukip’s threat. The party which trumpets providing the first BAME home secretary ran a disgraceful campaign to stop Sadiq Khan becoming London Mayor, only to find the capital’s voters much more tolerant.

I recall being told by a Tony Blair aide that a forthcoming Queen’s speech would include an immigration bill. But the Home Office knew nothing about it – an example of the “do something” culture. Blair got his bill.

The Tories set their arbitrary target to reduce annual net migration below 100,000, which depends as much on the number of people leaving as coming in. Immigration figures were published every three months, showing the target was never going to be hit, which fuelled public scepticism about politicians. So did Labour’s woeful underestimation of the number who would come to Britain after Eastern European countries joined the EU in 2004.

The ever-tougher rhetoric created a vicious circle, as politicians shouted louder to cover their failure to meet public expectations, which they created but could never deliver on. It was rare to talk up the benefits of immigration. As Sir Oliver Letwin, David Cameron’s policy chief, admitted on Monday: “All of us over the past 20, 30 years in British politics have underplayed the advantages to our country of migration, so the argument has become unbalanced.”

If this story sounds familiar, it’s because the same happened on Europe. After 30 years of criticising the EU, promising to slay the dragon of an imaginary superstate and never talking about the benefits of membership, it was hardly surprising the public voted to leave.

On immigration, public opinion is more nuanced than many politicians believe. Some 120 group discussions in 60 places held by the British Future think tank found that most people are “balancers” who recognise the benefits of migration but worry about the impact locally.

In an open letter to Javid, Sunder Katwala, the think tank’s director, said its “national conversation” had found much scope for consensus. He added: “A balanced policy can square this circle: ensuring that Britain controls the large-scale movement of lower-skilled workers that fuelled the Brexit vote while remaining open to the skills and energy that generations of new arrivals have contributed to our economy and society.”

British Future found that two thirds of people would support an annual cap on low-skilled workers; it enjoys majority support among Labour and Tory supporters and Remainers and Leavers. Nick Boles, a former Tory minister, has also proposed replacing the current target with an annual cap reflecting the economy’s needs. Javid might be sympathetic, but feels hemmed in by last year’s Tory manifesto “objective” to reduce net migration to “the tens of thousands”.

A similar conclusion was reached by the Commons Home Affairs Committee, which said in January: “Treating different kinds of migration differently would reflect most people’s views of immigration, and allow for much greater consensus to be built into the debate, as well as for greater transparency over immigration policy in general.”

Javid has a lot of speed reading to do. But he should read the British Future and select committee reports on the scope for consensus. He has a unique opportunity to break the vicious circle, and end our polarising and toxic debate on immigration. The question is: will May let him?

Source: Sajid Javid has a unique opportunity to change the toxic debate over immigration. But he might not be allowed to

UK Immigration Scandal Offers Tories a Shot at Redemption – Bloomberg

Good overview with some polling data regarding UK attitudes towards immigration:

The resignation of U.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd on Sunday is bad news for the Conservative government on several fronts. A close ally of British Prime Minister Theresa May who had her boss’s back on a number of occasions, Rudd was seen as a rising star in the Conservative Party, a potential prime minister herself and the most articulate opponent of Brexitin the cabinet.

The real problem her resignation raises, though, isn’t the damage to May’s already weakened government or the shifting cabinet balance toward more euroskeptic members. It is yet more confirmation that the Conservative Party’s immigration policy is a mess. It embraces a “target culture” that not only hurts Britain’s economic interests but damages its global reputation.

For most of the last decade Conservative immigration policy has been populist and ineffective. Officially and unofficially, the name of the game was keepy-outy. Rudd’s attempts to uphold the policies of her predecessors descended into the grotesque.

The first sign of serious trouble concerned a generation of immigrants who were invited between 1948 and 1971 to help rebuild Britain after World War II during a time of labor shortage. Members of the so-called Windrush generation (named for one ship on which many arrived) came from Caribbean countries and were told they could stay indefinitely. But the Home Office didn’t keep records of those granted a right to stay — by some estimates, about 500,000 people. And in 2010 the Windrush landing cards, proving arrival for many, were destroyed as part of a cull of old paperwork.

This shoddy management became a more serious problem when landmark changes to immigration law — overseen by May herself when she was home secretary — made the lives of the Windrush generation untenable.

Immigrants, even those who had been there decades, faced new requirements for detailed documentation in order to access employment or benefits and health care. May’s “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants was meant to encourage self-deportations. (Remember that idea, Americans?)

It didn’t seem to result in many self-deportations, but it did lead to widespread injustices. Migrants faced demands that they prove their immigration status; landlords and employers risked large fines for renting to or employing illegal immigrants. A Law Society report found “clear evidence of serious flaws in the way visa and asylum applications are being dealt with.”

Some Windrush immigrants faced inhumane treatment by the country that had been their home for decades. They were denied re-entry into the U.K., health care and other rights. A media and public opinion outcry in recent weeks forced by both May and Rudd to apologize and promise justice and compensation.

They looked likely to ride out the Windrush storm until it emerged that the Home Office had set targets for illegal deportations. Rudd denied the existence of targets to a parliamentary committee, before leaked Home Office documents confirmed them. Five public apologies in a week were too many. Either she wasn’t in command (something many suspected) or she simply misled Parliament.

In immigration control, when officials are ordered to meet deportation targets, ugly things happen. Asylum case workers have described a system that is arbitrary and rushed, in which workers are trained to find ways to say no.

British Conservatives may be more socially minded than their American counterparts — nobody questions universal health care here, for example — but they ostensibly stand for innovation, entrepreneurship, individual freedom and opportunity. And yet for years, dating back to David Cameron’s government in 2010, this party has made it harder — sometimes with just the sheer expense and bureaucratic hassle — for foreign workers, students and family members to settle in the U.K. with increasingly stringent immigration policy and populist rhetoric. In the race for global talent, Britain has slowed its pace to a languid walk.

It was left to Labour’s Diane Abbott to make the case for a more reasonable migration policy: “In trade negotiations our priorities favor growth, jobs and prosperity. We make no apologies for putting these aims before bogus immigration targets.”

Meanwhile, the government’s target to reduce net immigration to the “tens of thousands” is so unrealistic that very few Britons are under any illusion that it will be met. Net immigration has declined — but the biggest declineshave come from European Union citizens, without whom the health service and other parts of the economy couldn’t function. Migration from non-EU countries has continued to rise.

Sadly the government seems to be responding to a crude reading of public sentiment. Ask Britons if they want to see less immigration, and most will say yes — though notably views have softened somewhat since the Brexit referendum and the trend is toward greater acceptance.

But ask them about particular classes of immigrants — students, nurses, the Windrush generation — and their replies are far more magnanimous. They want border control and fewer immigrants, but also a system that is fair and humane and welcomes people who will contribute.

By many accounts Rudd, along with some other leading Conservatives, had been uncomfortable with the immigration targets; and yet she placed loyalty to her boss and the party first. Other Conservatives have challenged May over aspects of the Conservative immigration policy from the targets to the indefinite detention of immigrants that has led to appalling conditions.

The good news is that it’s never too late: The Conservatives now have an opportunity to clean up the mess. The new home secretary, Sajid Javid, is the son of a Pakistani immigrant and a Muslim; his father arrived in Britain with 1 pound in his pocket in the 1960s, according to Javid.

In his first remarks Monday, he promised to look into injustices at the Home Office and promised a full review of the policies that led to Rudd’s embarrassment. That review shouldn’t end with the Windrush scandal. An honest review will mean changing the policies that May and her party have been so closely associated with for years. That will not be easy, but the country will be better off if neither of them flinch. It just might save the Conservative Party from the embarrassment of more such scandals.

via Immigration Scandal Offers Tories a Shot at Redemption – Bloomberg

British interior minister Rudd resigns after immigration scandal | Reuters

Taking one for the team. This happened when PM May was Home Secretary:

Britain’s interior minister resigned on Sunday after Prime Minister Theresa May’s government faced an outpouring of indignation over its treatment of some long-term Caribbean residents who were wrongly labeled illegal immigrants.

The loss of one of May’s closest allies is a blow as she navigates the final year of negotiations ahead of Britain’s exit from the European Union in March 2019. It also deprives the cabinet of one of its most outspoken pro-European members.

In a resignation letter to May, Amber Rudd said she had inadvertently misled a parliamentary committee last Wednesday by denying the government had targets for the deportation of illegal migrants. May accepted her resignation.

For two weeks, British ministers have been struggling to explain why some descendants of the so-called “Windrush generation”, invited to Britain to plug labor shortfalls between 1948 and 1971, had been denied basic rights.

The Windrush scandal overshadowed the Commonwealth summit in London and has raised questions about May’s six-year stint as interior minister before she became prime minister in the wake of the 2016 Brexit referendum.

“The Windrush scandal has rightly shone a light on an important issue for our country,” Rudd said in a resignation letter to May.

Rudd, who was appointed Home Secretary in 2016, said voters wanted those who had the right to reside in Britain to be treated fairly and humanely but also that illegal immigrants be removed.

May to blame?

The opposition Labour Party, which had repeatedly called on Rudd to resign, said May was responsible and should explain her own role in the government’s immigration policies.

“The architect of this crisis, Theresa May, must now step forward to give an immediate, full and honest account of how this inexcusable situation happened on her watch,” said Diane Abbott, Labour’s spokeswoman on interior affairs.

Abbott called on May to give a statement to the House of Commons explaining whether she knew that Rudd was misleading parliament about the deportation targets.

Facing questions over the Windrush scandal, Rudd, 54, told lawmakers on Wednesday that Britain did not have targets for the removal of immigrants, but was forced to clarify her words after leaked documents showed some targets did exist.

The Guardian newspaper on Sunday reported a letter from Rudd to May last year in which she stated an “ambitious but deliverable” aim for an increase in the enforced deportation of immigrants.

After repeated challenges to her testimony on the deportation of immigrants, Rudd telephoned May on Sunday and offered her resignation.

“I feel it is necessary to do so because I inadvertently misled the Home Affairs Select Committee over targets for removal of illegal immigrants,” Rudd told May.

With her Conservative Party split over Brexit, May will have to be careful to preserve the uneasy balance in the cabinet after the loss of such a senior pro-EU minister.

Possible contenders who could replace Rudd include Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, Northern Irish Secretary Karen Bradley and former Northern Irish Secretary James Brokenshire.

Windrush crisis

The government has apologized for the fiasco, promised citizenship and compensation to those affected, including to people who have lost their jobs, been threatened with deportation and denied benefits because of the errors.

But the controversy over policies which May is closely associated with has raised awkward questions about how the pursuit of lower immigration after Brexit sits alongside the desire to be an outward-looking global economy.

The immigrants are named after the Empire Windrush, one of the first ships to bring Caribbean migrants to Britain in 1948, when Commonwealth citizens were invited to fill labor shortages and help rebuild the economy after World War Two.

Almost half a million people left their homes in the West Indies to live in Britain between 1948 and 1970, according to Britain’s National Archives.

A week before local elections, May apologized to the black community on Thursday in a letter to The Voice, Britain’s national Afro-Caribbean newspaper.

“We have let you down and I am deeply sorry,” she said. “But apologies alone are not good enough. We must urgently right this historic wrong.”

The crisis has focused attention on May, who as interior minister set out to create a “really hostile environment” for illegal immigrants, imposing tough new requirements in 2012 for people to prove their legal status.

Rudd’s resignation comes four months after another close ally and her then most senior minister, Damian Green, was forced out of his job for lying about whether he knew pornography had been found on computers in his parliamentary office.

Anna Soubry, a Conservative lawmaker, predicted Rudd may one day return to a senior job in government.

“She is a woman of great courage and immense ability,” Soubry said. “If there is any justice she will soon return to the highest of office.”

via British interior minister Rudd resigns after immigration scandal | Reuters

International stories that caught my attention

One of the advantages of having a break from blogging (not tweeting) is that one can gather the various news items and commentary together to have a more complete picture. Here is what caught my eye over the past few weeks.

UK

An interesting looking back at Enoch Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech, how elements remain today (An Anti-Immigration Speech Divided Britain 50 Years Ago. It Still Echoes Today) and how these perhaps help explain the inexplicable treatment of long-term immigrants and others as exemplified by Windrush immigrants (post World War II immigrants from former British Caribbean colonies).

There was considerable and justifiable on the callousness of UK immigration and citizenship policies, including both news articles and commentary, highlighting some of what I would consider ethical lapses in developing and implementing policy (British Citizen One Day, Illegal Immigrant the Next, UK removed legal protection for Windrush immigrants in 2014, Immigration scandal expected to spread beyond Windrush group,  Woman told she is not British by the Home Office despite living in UK all her life), ‘Not British enough’: ex-high commissioner’s baby denied UK passport in 2011Damian Green ‘dismissed Windrush citizenship pleas’.

Nesrine Malek’s It’s not just Windrush. Theresa May has created hostility to all immigrants makes perhaps the harshest critique:

If you are angry about the treatment of the Windrush generation it is important to understand that this anger cannot be selective, if there are to be no more violations. There is no cross-party, cross-media support for a different type of immigration policy victim than the Windrush scandal has managed to muster. Not for those who are illegally detained, those on hunger strike in protest against poor conditions. Not for those whose illnesses were treated as lies and to which they later succumbed. Not for the sexually exploitedand not for the children separated from their parents. Not even for those British subjects separated from their families by unreasonably high income visa requirements.

During my own long battle with the Home Office to secure residency, I spent many hours in Croydon. I went on one occasion to withdraw my passport, which had languished unprocessed for months, to travel to see my sick mother. Driven wild with fear that I would not be able to see her if the unthinkable happened, I was ready to risk not being allowed back in the country. The waiting room was a holding pen of quiet individual tragedies, full of people whose personal and professional lives had been thrown into turmoil by loss of documents, technical glitches and glacial incompetence. The cruelty we all experienced was not a bug, it was a feature.

The scandal of the Windrush generation is the kind of thing that happens when this rot sets in so deep that the infrastructure of a civilised society begins to fall apart. The rise in the number of the persecuted is analogous to the doubling in deaths of homeless people. There is only so much austerity an economy can take before the human toll rises. And there is only so much ideological fixation on “sending people home” before we are deporting grandmothers who arrived in this country when they were children.

And make no mistake, it is ideological. The Conservative party has been consistent in its aggressive immigration policy since 2010, when David Cameron decided that a tough stance on immigration was a flagship party offering to its base supporters. No ifs, no buts, he said. Detention, deportation and NHS treatment refusal is the culmination of the party’s most lucid positions. It is not incompetence, it is not even malice. It is an enthusiastic strategy that over the past decade has become a cornerstone, a defining element of Conservative governments. An immigration policy, very much like austerity, unafraid to be brutal if the deserving, whether they are the “indigenous population” of the country or hardworking taxpayers, are to be protected from those who are after a “free ride”.

There has been no bureaucratic snafu. The only miscalculation was that everyone got a little bit cocky, and who can blame them. The error was that the dragnet picked up some people who fall into a popular sympathy sweet spot. The elderly ones who came here from the Commonwealth to rebuild Britain and who even the Daily Mail can look kindly upon. They appeal to a patrician nostalgia and have a humanising narrative that others who come to this country in different circumstances do not enjoy. An apology and exceptions made for Windrush cases alone is not enough. If we are to be content with only this, then the government’s furtive shimmy away from the crime scene will be successful, and the Home Office’s daily violations of human rights will continue. If we are to prevent the assaults against those we can relate to, we must also be angry for those we cannot.

The UK government was forced to reverse its policy given the public backlash.

And a few articles on UK perceptions of multiculturalism: Multiculturalism has failed, believe substantial minority of Britons‘Multiculturalism is defunct’: British Government signals U-turn on 70 years of social policy – Dr. Jenny Taylor.

US

Yet another article on the effect of Trump administration policies on the tech sector (Silicon Valley is fighting a brain-drain war with Trump that it may lose) but with one study suggesting the Valley is not as dependent on immigration as may appear (Shocker: San Francisco Tech Companies Not So Reliant On Immigrants):

A surprising survey by Envoy Global suggests that while San Francisco is not giving up on the H-1B, companies there need it less than they have professed to need it.  Call it an adjustment to the immigration policies of the new President. But despite a historical reliance on highly skilled foreign-born talent, most San Francisco employers say they do not consider sourcing foreign national workers as a top talent acquisition priority.

The San Francisco Insights on Immigration Report, conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Envoy, aggregated the responses of 171 San Francisco-based HR professionals and hiring managers regarding global hiring practices. Key takeaways from the survey showed that local companies view hiring foreign talent is still very much a business norm, but today only 8% of San Francisco tech companies say they proactively seek out foreign employees compared with 24% of tech companies in other tech hubs who say they are looking abroad for talent. Some 54% of San Francisco tech companies said sourcing foreign national employees is not very important to their company’s talent acquisition strategy at the moment.

The de-emphasis on immigrant workers this year is the fact that the H-1B application process has become more cumbersome under Trump.  Trump has promised to make it harder for tech firms to hire foreign workers, though the companies all still insist they need them.

In response to changes in immigration regulations, 33% of San Francisco employers say they are hiring fewer foreign nationals compared to 26% of employers nationwide.

A further tightening of citizenship rules for children born abroad and out of wedlock to US parents USCIS tightens rules on US citizenship for children born outside America is being implemented.

Australia

A series of articles based upon the Australian race commissioner’s report on the appalling lack of diversity among Australian leadership (In a Proudly Diverse Australia, White People Still Run Almost Everything‘Dismal’ diversity among Australian business and civic leadersWhy we should look at targets to get more non-Europeans into top jobs: Tim Soutphommasane):

Based on the 2016 Census data on ancestry, we estimate about 58 per cent of Australians have an Anglo-Celtic background, 18 per cent have a European background, 21 per cent have a non-European background, and 3 per cent have an Indigenous background.

However, our examination of almost 2500 senior leaders in business, politics, government and higher education shows only very limited cultural diversity. Almost 95 per cent of senior leaders at the chief executive or “c-suite” levels have an Anglo-Celtic or European background. Of the 372 chief executives and equivalents we identified, 97 per cent have an Anglo-Celtic or European background.

Here’s a breakdown. Within the ASX 200 companies, there appears only to be eight chief executives who have a non-European background – enough to squeeze into a Tarago. Of the 30 members of the federal ministry, there is no one who has a non-European background, and one who has an Indigenous background. It is similarly bleak within the public service, where 99 per cent of the heads of federal and state government departments have an Anglo-Celtic or European background (that’s one of 103). Universities don’t fare much better: just one of the 39 vice-chancellors of Australian universities has a non-European background.

All up there are 11 of the 372 chief executives and equivalents who have a non-European or Indigenous background. A mere cricket team’s worth of diversity.

These are dismal statistics for a society that prides itself on its multiculturalism. They challenge our egalitarian self-image. And they challenge our future prosperity as a nation. If we aren’t making the most of our multicultural talents, we may be squandering opportunities.

I often hear from people that it will only be a matter of time before cultural diversity is better represented. We should be encouraged, for example, that there doesn’t appear to be any lack of European backgrounds among senior leaders. Just as it took time before we saw Australian chief executives from Italian or Greek backgrounds, we may have to wait a little longer before we see more from Asian, Middle-Eastern, or African backgrounds.

Time alone may not resolve the problem. Economists at the University of Sydney, in a recent study involving resumes, found those with an Anglo name are three times more likely to be invited for interview, compared to candidates with a Chinese name. (The study also found that those with Chinese names who had an Anglicised first name doubled their chances of receiving a job interview.)

If we are serious about shifting numbers, it may be necessary to consider targets for cultural diversity – if not quotas. Such measures don’t stand in opposition to a principle of merit. After all, meritocracy presumes a level playing field. Yet do we seriously believe that a perfectly level playing field exists, when there is such dramatic under-representation of cultural diversity within leadership positions?

Multiculturalism can be as superficial as food and festivals. But if we’re serious about our diversity, we must be prepared to hold up a mirror to ourselves – and ask if what we see looks right for an egalitarian and multicultural Australia.

Hungary

Lastly, relevant and disturbing commentary on the recent Hungarian election and the country’s descent into autocracy (Hungary Is Winning Its War on Muslim Immigrants: Leonid BershidskyA Democracy Disappears: Andrew Sullivan), with Sullivan noting the parallels with the US under Trump:

The recipe is a familiar one by now. In a society where social mores, especially in the big cities, appear to be changing very fast, there is a classic reaction. More traditional voters in the heartland begin to feel left behind, and their long-held values spurned. At the same time, a wave of unlawful migrants, fleeing terror and deprivation, appear to threaten the demographic and cultural balance still further, and seem to be encouraged by international post-national entities such as the European Union. A leftist ruling party in disarray gives a right-wing demagogue an opening, and he seizes it. And so in 2010, Orbán was able to exploit a political crisis triggered by an imploding and scandal-ridden Socialist government, and, alongside coalition partners, win a supermajority for the right in parliament.

Once in power, that supermajority allowed Orbán to amend the constitution in 2011, reducing the number of seats in the parliament from 386 to 199, gerrymandering them brutally to shore up his party’s standing in future elections, barring gay marriage in perpetuity, and mandating that in election campaigns, state media would take precedence over independent sources. He also forced a wave of early retirements in the judiciary in order to pack the courts with loyalists.

As Mounk notes, Orbán also tapped into deep grievances rooted in Hungary’s loss of territory in the 20th century, by giving the vote to ethnic Hungarians in neighboring Romania and removing it from more culturally progressive expats. But it was in response to the migration crisis in 2015, that Orbán truly galvanized public opinion behind him. Hungary, as Paul Lendvai noted in The Atlantic, had been deluged with asylum claims: 174,000 in 2015 alone, the highest per capita in the EU. Orbán responded by spreading fears of an influx of terrorists and criminals, of a poisoning of Hungarian culture, and expressing visceral nationalist hostility to the diktats of the European Union. Added to all that, of course, was a generous salting of classic central European anti-Semitism. Voters especially in rural areas flocked to him.

He further shifted the public discourse by creating and advancing new media outlets that amplified his propaganda, while attacking, harassing, and undermining all the others. He erected a huge fence to keep Muslim immigrants out, and refused to accept any of the 50,000 refugees the EU wanted to settle in his country. His political allies began to get very rich, as crony capitalism spread. By last year, Orbán had turned George Soros into a version of 1984’s Emmanuel Goldstein — an “enemy of the state” — with billboards and endless speeches, demonizing the Jewish billionaire and philanthropist, and vowing to protect the nation from external, malignant forces.

It was a potent formula, especially when backed up by the rigging of the parliamentary seats. Last week, in a surge of voter turnout, Orban won almost 50 percent of the vote, but two-thirds of the seats, giving him another supermajority (this time without coalition partners) in parliament, with further chances to amend the constitution in his favor. His voters in the heartland swamped a majority for the opposition in Budapest. One of two remaining opposition newspapers, Magyar Nemzet, shut down on Wednesday after 80 years in print. Orbán had withdrawn all government advertising in it. Some wonder whether there will ever be a free election again.

If you find many of these themes familiar, you’ve been paying attention. In the middle of a reaction against massive social change and a wave of illegal immigration, a right-wing party decides to huff some populism. A charismatic figure emerges, defined by hostility to immigration, becomes an iconic figure, and even though he doesn’t win a majority of votes, comes to office. His party is further shored up by gerrymandering, giving it a structural advantage in gaining and keeping power, including a seven percentage-point head start in the House of Representatives. That party does what it can to further suppress the vote of its opponents, especially ethnic minorities, and focuses on packing the courts, even rupturing long-standing precedents to deny a president of the opposing party his right to fill a vacant Supreme Court seat.

Openly propagandist media companies emerge, fake news surges, while the president uses the powers of his office to attack, delegitimize, and discredit other media sources, even to the point of threatening a company like Amazon. A mighty wall is proposed against immigrants on the border, alongside fears of a mass “invasion” from the South. Social conservatives are embraced tightly. The census is altered to ensure one party’s advantage in future district-drawing. Courts are disparaged and the justice system derided as rigged by political opponents.

The difference, of course, is that Orbán is an experienced politician, and knows exactly what he’s doing. Trump is a fool, an incompetent, and incapable of forming any kind of strategy, or sticking to one. The forces arrayed against the populist right, moreover, are much stronger in the U.S. than in Hungary; our institutions more robust; our culture much more diverse. Our democracy is far, far older.

And yet almost every single trend in Hungary is apparent here as well. The party of the left has deep divisions, and no unifying leader, while the ruling party is a loyalist leader-cult. The president’s party is a machine that refuses to share power, and seeks total control of all branches of government. It is propelled by powerful currents of reaction, seems indifferent to constitutional norms, and dedicated to incendiary but extremely potent populist rhetoric. The president’s supporters now support a purge in the Department of Justice and the FBI, to protect the president from being investigated.

The president himself has repeatedly demonstrated contempt for liberal norms; and despite a chaotic first year and a half, is still supported by a solid and slightly growing 42 percent of the public. Meanwhile, the immigration issue continues to press down, the culture wars are intensifying again, and the broad reasons for Trump’s election in the first place remain in place: soaring social and economic inequality, cultural insecurity, intensifying globalization, and a racially fraught period when white Americans will, for the first time, not form a majority of citizens.

History is not over; and real, profound political choices are here again. My hope is that the descent into illiberalism across the West might shake up the rest of us in defending core liberal democratic principles, wherever they are threatened, bringing us to the ballot box in huge numbers this fall, and abandoning the complacency so many have lapsed into.

Geddes tries to explain former PM Harper’s congratulations to Orban (Why Stephen Harper congratulating Viktor Orbán matters: John Geddes):

Tone matters. If this were only a pro forma note, Harper is more than capable, as anyone who followed him in Canadian politics can attest, of draining any message of liveliness or affect. And, by his own stated standard, he would have had grounds for keeping any hint of enthusiasm out of this one. After all, Harper has said that his aim as IDU chair is partly “ensuring that we address the concerns of frustrated conservatives and that they do not drift to extreme options.”

If we’re talking extreme options, Orban looks like a prime example these days. Numerous credible critics charge that he has coopted Hungary’s courts and schools, skewed its electoral system to his advantage, all while voicing admiration for Turkey and China, and criticizing Western European tolerance for Muslim immigration. Still, political science professor Achim Hurrelmann, director of Carleton University’s Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, says Orban’s core message—beyond his destructive domestic tactics—is being heard by conservatives outside Hungary. “[Fidesz] has primarily been anti-migration, emphasizing the Christian roots of Europe, and being very much against diversity,” Hurrelmann told me in an interview. “In that position, they find common ground with some other mainstream conservative parties.”

I can’t guess if Harper’s calculation in issuing that tweet took into account an awareness that Orban, dangerous as he may be, isn’t irrelevant beyond Hungary. Whatever Harper’s reasoning, he has undoubtedly damaged his reputation among many who view Orban with justifiable distaste and alarm. I’m reminded again of the steep learning curve Harper had to climb after barely travelling outside Canada, and concentrating almost entirely on domestic issues, rather than foreign policy, before his 2006 election win. “Since coming to office,” he told Maclean’s in 2011, “the thing that’s probably struck me the most in terms of my previous expectations—I don’t even know what my expectations were—is not just how important foreign affairs/foreign relations is, but, in fact, that it’s become almost everything.”

It’s worth noting that Andrew Scheer seems to be on his own version of that learning curve now. In this recent interview with my colleague Paul Wells, the Conservative leader surprised me by going on at some length about his reasons for supporting Brexit. Scheer spoke about how staying in the EU impinged on British sovereignty and embroiled Britain in the Brussels bureaucracy. He scoffed at “this notion that somehow they would lose access to the European market.” He repeated the debunked canard that EU rules required a certain curvature on bananas.

To my ear, all this pro-Brexit blather was by far the least convincing part of Scheer’s performance in that interesting conversation. Conservatism’s most treacherous currents are global, especially in the age of Donald Trump. In Harper’s congratulatory message to Orban, and Scheer’s laudatory position on Brexit, the difficulty finding a solidly respectable place to stand in that international discourse becomes glaringly obvious. These issues might not seem central to Canadian voters in any federal election, but, as Harper reminded us, they soon are to whoever wins one.

 

ICYMI – Immigration: how much is too much? – BBC News

Some of the British debates:

Maybe it was intrusive use of big data. A mistrust of Eurocracy and foreign judges.

Maybe it depended on undeliverable promises and the big red bus. Perhaps it was the complacency of the remainers, and of intransigence in Brussels.

But there’s little doubt that none of these factors would have made much difference to the Brexit vote without the big issue that people on all sides tend to speak about nervously – immigration.

So when the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) speaks, it needs close attention. Amid all the claims, counter-claims, petty prejudices about Johnny Foreigner and justifiable concerns about jobs and wages, this is the outfit that feeds real hard evidence into government thinking – or so you would hope.

It was commissioned last July by the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, to take an in-depth and wide-ranging look at the UK’s continuing economic and demographic requirement to attract a continued flow of European Union immigrants after Brexiting.

This is to help shape the UK’s new immigration policy from 2021, though being commissioned by Ms Rudd it could also be seen as a helpful source of evidence to back up the soft Brexit end of Cabinet divisions on Brexit.

Hard-nosed

The interim report, published on Tuesday, is big on the opinion of business, acknowledging that the final report will have to balance that with other voices.

“What is best for an employer is not necessarily what is best for the resident population, which is the criterion the MAC uses when evaluating migration policy,” it states.

In general, but particularly in London and Scotland, business told the MAC that it likes to recruit from the biggest possible pool of labour. No surprise there.

They shared with the MAC employer concerns, with which we are becoming familiar, of being unable to staff businesses after the Brexit portcullis falls. Without access to migrant labour, firms may not grow, and some may disappear.

The committee seems to have listened carefully, agreeing that growth will be slowed, but without much sympathy for UK plc. The hard-nosed response is: if you’ve built your business model on migrant labour, you need to be prepared for when it isn’t there.

This is not just about Brexit, goes the argument: this is about trends towards migrant workers choosing to go elsewhere, if for instance, sterling isn’t so valuable to them.

Earnings in their home countries can be expected to rise over time, so they will eventually choose to make their money in their more prosperous homelands. What does migrant-dependent British business do then?

Reliable and flexible

The interim report also dips a toe into the controversial question of whether migrant workers depress wages.

They’ve got more work to do on that, says the MAC. But for now, they note very different stories for those born in older EU members (such as France and Germany), who on average earn 12% above the British-born average. They tend to do more highly skilled jobs.

Those born in the newer EU members (from the Baltic states to Bulgaria) are typically in lower skilled, lower-paid roles and paid 27% less than the British-born average (note: that is not for the same work).

The evidence is patchy, but suggests that average pay has not been much depressed by migrant workers. It may even have been enhanced among higher earners.

But among lower-paid workers, the financial crisis and long haul back to recovery offer a more compelling explanation for poor wage growth than competition from foreign workers.

What they’re clearer about is that employers are getting a higher level of skill and qualification for the same money that will buy an hour of native British worker’s time.

And that might help explain one of the headline findings – that employers like the work ethic, reliability and flexibility that they get from migrants. That’s hard to prove with hard evidence, but plausible.

When employers say they simply can’t get home-grown Brits to come and work at some jobs, the Committee has another unsympathetic response: of course they will – you just have to offer them enough pay to make it worthwhile. Employers seem unwilling to use wages as a lever to solve their labour and skill shortages.

Dependency

A lot of this interim report is dedicated to examining the case for migration being encouraged into some parts of the UK more than others.

It highlights the huge differences between most of the country and London. The capital’s population is 37% foreign-born. Some 11% of the total are from EU countries.

The West Midlands has the next highest share, at one in eight, and for Scotland, it’s one in 12. For north-east England and Wales, it is one in 18.

The sector where Scotland has a relatively high reliance on foreign workers is in hospitality – that’s apart from London, which at 33% foreign, is three times as reliant..

This is where the Scottish government weighs in. It set out for the MAC a case that will be familiar to those who follow Holyrood’s rhetoric:

  • Scotland has more need of immigrants because its population would fall otherwise. All its recent population growth has come from immigration.
  • Scotland has a special long-term problem with having enough working age, tax-paying people to fund pensions and services for retirees (‘the dependency ratio’), and
  • Scotland has a particular need for migrants to counter the outflow of people from remoter communities.

Again, the hard evidence is examined, and the response is far from sympathetic. The Scottish government’s sense of exceptionalism takes a battering.

Work longer

It is concluded that:

  • Scotland doesn’t have more need of migrants to stop population decline. Other parts of the UK have similar challenges, including north-east England and Wales.
  • Following the trajectory of the dependency ratio for the next two decades, it rises for Scotland, but it doesn’t look significantly different to other parts of the UK. In Northern Ireland, it rises fastest. A much more effective way of addressing the problem, it is argued, is raising the pension age and having people work longer.
  • And the rural question? Why look to migrants to fill the gaps as people leave these areas? Why not address the reasons why people leave, and find ways to encourage residents to stay? (There’s no suggestion what these might be.)

“Migration is rarely the only policy available to deal with a problem and always needs to be compared with alternatives,” writes the MAC chairman, Sir Alan Manning.

The final report will have more to say on those alternative. It is set to have a very significant influence on the future shape of the British economy and of British society.

via Immigration: how much is too much? – BBC News

Jeremy Corbyn concedes Labour has failed to address antisemitism problem | The Guardian

Certain blindness to have let this issue fester for so long:

Jeremy Corbyn has issued his strongest condemnation of antisemitism so far as he came under intense pressure from his own backbenchers and the wider Jewish community over his failure to tackle antisemitism in the Labour party.

He was forced to step up his response during the day after an extraordinary open letter was published on Sunday night by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC), accusing him of “siding with antisemites” and calling for supporters to stage a show of solidarity outside parliament as the parliamentary Labour party held its weekly meeting on Monday evening.

At the PLP meeting, backbenchers denied there was any kind of coup attempt. Wes Streeting MP, often a critic of Corbyn’s, said: “No one’s calling for a leadership election. We just want leadership.”

The pressure from backbench MPs began building on Friday when Luciana Berger challenged Corbyn over supportive comments he posted to the artist behind an antisemitic mural. It came to a head on Monday morning when John Mann, chair of the all-party antisemitism group, tweeted that the Labour party “ceases to have a reason for existence if it cannot stand up against discrimination and racism”. He said the party was “rotten to the core”.

His criticism was backed by the veteran former minister Dame Margaret Hodge, who said Corbyn had allowed himself to become “the poster boy of antisemites everywhere”.

As hundreds gathered at Westminster, including dozens of Labour MPs and peers, and a small group of rival demonstrators from Jewish Votes for Labour, Corbyn issued a “sincere apology” that acknowledged that his previous responses had been inadequate.

“I recognise that antisemitism has surfaced within the Labour party, and has too often been dismissed as simply a matter of a few bad apples,” he said on Twitter.

“This has caused pain and hurt to Jewish members of our party and to the wider Jewish community in Britain. I am sincerely sorry for the pain which has been caused, and pledge to redouble my efforts to bring this anxiety to an end.”

Corbyn’s previous apology merely recognised that there were “pockets” of antisemitism in the party. That was rejected as inadequate by Jonathan Goldstein of the JLC, who said the Labour leader had become a figurehead for antisemitism.

Speaking at the solidarity protest outside parliament, the former Labour MP Gillian Merron, who is now chief executive of the Board of Deputies, said Corbyn had only made concessions because he had been forced into it by their actions.

“People here are angry and sad,” she said. “Nobody dreamt they would be in this position. The Jewish community has had enough and we are joined in that feeling by many many people inside and out of the Labour party.”

Later, Louise Ellman, who is a former chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, told BBC Newsnight it was “unprecedented” that the mainstream Jewish community had to take to the streets to protest at antisemitism in a mainstream political party.

In the second letter, Corbyn expressly apologised for failing to study the content of the antisemitic mural in the East End of London before posting supportive comments to its artist.

Jewish leaders claimed in their letter, released on Sunday night, that the controversy proved the Labour leader “cannot seriously contemplate antisemitism, because he is so ideologically fixed within a far-left worldview that is instinctively hostile to mainstream Jewish communities”.

Countering the charge, Corbyn says in his letter: “While the forms of antisemitism expressed on the far right of politics are easily detectable, such as Holocaust denial, there needs to be a deeper understanding of what constitutes antisemitism in the labour movement. Sometimes this evil takes familiar forms – the east London mural which has caused such understandable controversy is an example.

“The idea of Jewish bankers and capitalists exploiting the workers of the world is an old antisemitic conspiracy theory … I am sorry for not having studied the content of the mural more closely before wrongly questioning its removal in 2012.”

In a much more nuanced recognition of the forms that antisemitism can take, the letter also accepts that anti-Zionism and antisemitism have become conflated.

“Criticism of Israel, particularly in relation to the continuing dispossession of the Palestinian people, cannot be avoided. Nevertheless, comparing Israel or the actions of Israeli governments to the Nazis… and using abusive phraseology about supporters of Israel such as ‘Zio’ all constitute aspects of contemporary antisemitism.”

He also promises that the party will implement in full the “overdue” recommendations of the Chakrabarti report,which was published nearly two years ago.

Andy McDonald, the shadow transport minister, insisted that action would be taken. He pledged to speed up the “far too slow” complaints process. He was unable to say how many complaints had been successfully dealt with.

via Jeremy Corbyn concedes Labour has failed to address antisemitism problem | Politics | The Guardian

A related article on the extent of antisemitism in the UK (CST report):

The Community Security Trust (CST), a charity that works with Jewish community organisations and police forces, recorded 1,382 anti-Semitic incidents in 2017 – the highest total ever.

Of these, 145 incidents were classed as “assaults” – up from 108 the year before. But the most common type of incident was “verbal abuse directed at random Jewish people in public” – being shouted at in the street.

Meanwhile, almost one in five incidents involved the use of social media.

One tweet sent to a Jewish charity appeared to show a rollercoaster above a concentration camp. Another social media user posted messages saying “Hitler was right”.

The CST said there had been three incidents involving damage to, or desecration of, a Jewish cemetery; eight involving stones or bricks being thrown; and eight involving eggs being thrown at property.

The charity also cited improvements in the reporting of anti-Semitic incidents – but said it believed there was still “significant under-reporting”.

Anti-Semitism incidents chart

Earlier this month, the former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks told the Jewish News newspaper: “Any political party has to adopt a zero-tolerance to anti-Semitism. If they fail to do so, they are a danger not only to themselves but to the country and all inhabitants.”

Lord Sacks has previously said that anti-Semitism is an ancient hatred and a contemporary warning sign that community relations within a culture are endangered.

It is why the Jewish community is inviting members of other faiths, and of none, to join in the chorus: “Enough is Enough.”

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43542305

Father of British-Canadian accused of joining ISIS hopes to plead son’s case in Canada next week

An example of how inheriting Canadian citizenship (first generation) leads to consular demands even in cases where a person has never lived in Canada:

John Letts, the father of a young British-Canadian man accused of belonging to ISIS and being held in a Kurdish jail in Syria, is hoping to lobby the Canadian government in person next week for help securing his son’s transfer to Canada.

Letts and his wife, Sally Lane, insist the allegations against their son Jack are false but say he has the right to answer any charges against him in a British or Canadian court.

Letts say he would have travelled to Canada long before now had he been allowed.

He and Lane have been subject to a travel ban since being charged in 2016 under British terrorism legislation for trying to send money to their son, who they say was desperate to leave ISIS-held territory in the Middle East.

On Thursday, a British judge eased the restrictions on Letts, giving him permission to travel abroad with the court’s prior approval.

“We were just given the ruling this morning, so we haven’t had really much of a chance to digest it,” Letts said in an interview after the hearing.

“But I’m hoping that next week, I’d like to think I could be in Canada having meetings with appropriate people.”

Family holds dual citizenship

Jack Letts was 18 when he left his family’s home in Oxford to travel to Jordan and then Syria in 2014.

Last spring, Kurdish militias controlling parts of northern Syria stopped him as he was trying to leave ISIS-held territory and jailed him in the town of Qamishli.

Canadian consular officials spoke with him by telephone in January. In audio recordings of the call obtained by CBC News, Jack Letts said he had tried to commit suicide and asked to be sent to Canada.

The British media have dubbed him Jihadi Jack, a label his parents say has made their ordeal all the more difficult. Public opinion in the U.K. tends not to favour allowing people suspected of fighting for ISIS to return.

The parents turned to Ottawa for help, they say, in the face of an indifferent response from the British Foreign Office. Letts, Lane and their two children, including Jack, hold dual citizenship. When asked about the Letts case in the past, U.K. authorities have said they cannot help British citizens in places where the U.K. has no consular support.

Letts, seen in Facebook photo at age 20, went to Syria and Iraq in 2014, and is now in a Kurdish jail in northern Syria. He was dubbed Jihadi Jack in British media, a label his parents feel has hurt his case. (Facebook)

Lane is optimistic that Canada will help see her son extricated from the Kurdish prison.

“I think we’re in a different time frame now,” she said. “Jack’s in detention. There’s an opportunity to get him out of detention, and those questions about what he was doing can now be answered in a trial.”

Parents could face 14 years in prison

Lane says she has been focused on how to help her son rather than on the charges laid against her in Britain, with a trial set to begin in September.

But if found guilty, she and her husband could face up to 14 years in prison, an outcome supporters say would be ludicrous for parents trying to help a child.

John Letts says living under bail conditions and being blackballed by some in the community has been an ordeal, harming the couple’s ability to make a living.

“We’ve been living like this for three and a half years, waiting under this sword of Damocles and under this view that we’re somehow terrorists and aiding and abetting ISIS, and it just makes you very angry and upset. And here’s a breakthrough.”

In his decision Thursday at the Central Criminal Court in London, known as the Old Bailey, Judge Nicholas Hilliard did not lift the travel ban on Lane.

Source: Father of British-Canadian accused of joining ISIS hopes to plead son’s case in Canada next week