Diane Abbott on the Latest Windrush-Style Deportations

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 13/02/2020 - 4:48am in

The Tories are doing it again, trying to deport Caribbean immigrants back to countries from which they emigrated so long ago they may only have the dimmest memories of them. If they remember them at all. It’s like May’s attempted deportation of the Windrush migrants, people who were, or should have been, legally entitled to remain here. But the documentation allowing them to say had somehow been destroyed. Now Johnson wishes to deport 50 similar migrants back to Jamaica and the Caribbean. The difference is that these people are all supposed to be guilty of serious offences, such as manslaughter, rape, violent crime and dealing class A drugs. But they’ve all served their prison sentences, and the law firm representing one of them says that they are “potential victims of trafficking, groomed as children by drugs gangs running county lines networks and later pursued in the criminal justice system as serious offenders”. The deportations come suspiciously before the publication of the ‘lessons learned’ review of the Winrush Scandal. More than 170 MPs, led by labour’s Nadia Whittome, have signed a letter demanding the cancellation of the flight.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/02/10/johnson-insists-on-deportation-of-caribbean-nationals-despite-claims-theyre-not-serious-criminals/

The Appeal Court has also ruled that the deportations may not go ahead until it is confirmed that they have all had advice from the lawyers. But it’s a good question whether the Tories will pay any attention to this. Boris Johnson does not seem to have much regard for the rule of law when it suits his interest.

Jamaica deportation: will the Tories go ahead after appeal court decision?

Yesterday, Diane Abbott wrote a piece in the I laying out the issues involved and forcefully showing why these deportations are unjust in a piece ‘Windrush: reigniting the scandal’. She wrote

The planned deportation of 50 Jamaican-born British residents to Jamaica has caused uproar among the black community and many campaign groups. it is widely considered to have strong racial overtones and recalls the injustices of the Windrush scandal.

The 50 people involved are all convicted offenders. Judges have always had the power to direct that criminals be deported at the end of the sentence, but that is when they are dealing with an individual case – with all the facts and personal circumstances in front of them. These deportations are different and relatively arbitrary. They are solely tied to the length of the original sentence – No 10 has said that all 50 have sentences of over 12 months – with no consideration of personal circumstance. The potential deportees have already served an appropriate sentence. There have been assurances that none of these deportees are members of the Windrush cohort, but it is not clear whether any are the children or grandchildren of Windrush victims. If so, their eligibility to apply for British citizenship may have been compromised by the confusion over their relatives’ immigration status.

The Government’s 2016 review into the welfare in detention of vulnerable persons suggested that it should not be deporting people who came to this country as children. The Windrush: Lessons Learned review reportedly says the same thing.

The Government wants to deport people back to Jamaica, when they may have no memory of the country because they came here so long ago. Many of them will have no support in Jamaica or they may no longer have family and friends there.

The people the Home Office proposes to deport have been held effectively incommunicado because of problems with the mobile phone signal in the area of the detention centres. So it is not clear that the potential deportees will have had all the appropriate legal advice. Campaigners are asking that, at the very least, these deportations are halted until the Windrush review has been published and studied.

The Windrush scandal was traumatising for Britain’s black community. It is very important that Britain’s diverse communities see that we are all entitled to fairness and due process. 

Abbott is probably the most reviled woman in parliament, no matter what the Blairite ladies were saying about the misogyny they’d supposedly received from Corbyn’s supporters. The Tories and their lackey press hate her as a left-wing firebrand and an anti-racist activist. But here she shows herself cautious – she doesn’t actually call the deportations racist, although I’m sure that is very much how it appears to her as well as others. I’m also aware that most people don’t have much sympathy for the perpetrators of serious crimes. But that’s evidently what Johnson was hoping for when he selected these people for deportation. He hoped that their criminal records would mean that either no-one was bothered, or he could depend on the right-wing press on presenting it as good, British justice. And needless to say, those criticising it would once again be presented as foul liberals siding with crims because they just happen not to be White. But Abbott and the other MPs and campaigners are right. This looks very unjust. It does look like Windrush Mk 2. And if it goes ahead, it will mean that Johnson and the Tories will be bolder the next time about deporting people. And that will mean people, who are innocent any crime or serious wrongdoing, with the exception that they were born outside this country, or are the wrong colour.

And after Johnson finds out how far he can get away with victimising Blacks, he’ll start doing it to everyone, regardless of the colour of their skin. That’s another reason why he has to be stopped, apart from the obvious racism.

Book on the Bloody Reality of the British Empire

John Newsinger, The Blood Never Dried: A People’s History of the British Empire (London: Bookmarks Publications 2006).

John Newsinger is the senior lecturer in Bath Spa University College’s school of History and Cultural Studies. He’s also a long-time contributor to the conspiracy/ parapolitics magazine Lobster. The book was written nearly a decade and a half ago as a rejoinder to the type of history the Tories would like taught in schools again, and which you see endless recited by the right-wing voices on the web, like ‘the Britisher’, that the British Empire was fundamentally a force for good, spreading peace, prosperity and sound government around the world. The book’s blurb runs

George Bush’s “war on terror” has inspired a forest of books about US imperialism. But what about Britain’s role in the world? The Blood Never Dried challenges the chorus of claims that British Empire was a kinder, gentler force in the world.

George Orwell once wrote that imperialism consists of the policeman and soldier holding the “native” down while the businessman goes through his pockets. But the violence of the empire has also been met by the struggle for freedom, from slaves in Jamaica to the war for independence in Kenya.

John Newsinger sets out to uncover this neglected history of repression and resistance at the heart of the British Empire. He also looks at why the declining British Empire has looked to an alliance with US imperialism. To the boast that “the sun never set on the British Empire”, the Chartist Ernest Jones replied, “And the blood never dried”. 

One of the new imperialists to whom Newsinger takes particular exception is the right-wing historian Niall Ferguson. Newsinger begins the book’s introduction by criticising Ferguson’s 2003 book, Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World, and its successor, Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire. Newsinger views these books as a celebration of imperialism as a duty that the powerful nations owe to their weaker brethren. One of the problem with these apologists for imperialism, he states, is their reluctance to acknowledge the extent that the empires they laud rested on the use of force and the perpetration of atrocities. Ferguson part an idyllic childhood, or part of it, in newly independent Kenya. But nowhere does he mention that the peace and security he enjoyed were created through the brutal suppression of the Mau Mau. He states that imperialism has two dimensions – one with the other, competing imperial powers, which have driven imperial expansion, two World Wars and a Cold War, and cost countless lives. And another with the peoples who are conquered and subjugated. It is this second relationship he is determined to explore. He sums up that relationship in the quote from Orwell’s Burmese Days.

Newsinger goes on to state that

It is the contention here that imperial occupation inevitably involved the use of violence and that, far from this being a glorious affair, it involved considerable brutality against people who were often virtually defenceless.

The 1964 film Zulu is a particular example of the type of imperial history that has been taught for too long. It celebrates the victory of a small group of British soldiers at Rourke’s Drift, but does not mention the mass slaughter of hundreds of Zulus afterwards. This was the reality of imperial warfare, of which Bush’s doctrine of ‘shock and awe’ is just a continuation. He makes the point that during the 19th and 20th centuries the British attacked, shelled and bombed city after city, leaving hundreds of casualties. These bombardments are no longer remembered, a fate exemplified by the Indonesian city of Surabaya, which we shelled in 1945. He contrasts this amnesia with what would have happened instead if it had been British cities attacked and destroyed.

He makes it clear that he is also concerned to celebrate and ‘glorify’ resistance to empire, from the slaves in the Caribbean, Indian rebels in the 1850s, the Irish republicans of the First World War, the Palestinian peasants fighting the British and the Zionist settlers in the 1930s, the Mau Mau in the 1950s and the Iraqi resistance today. He also describes how radicals and socialists in Britain protested in solidarity with these resistance movements. The Stop the War Coalition stands in this honourable tradition, and points to the comment, quoted in the above blurb, by the Chartist and Socialist Ernest Jones in the 1850s. Newsinger states ‘Anti-imperialists today stand in the tradition of Ernest Jones and William Morris, another socialist and fierce critic of the empire – a tradition to be proud of.’

As for the supporters of imperialism, they have to be asked how they would react if other countries had done to us what we did to them, such as Britain’s conduct during the Opium War? He writes

The British Empire, it is argued here, is indefensible, except on the premise that the conquered peoples were somehow lesser being than the British. What British people would regard as crimes if done to them, are somehow justified by supporters of the empire when done to others, indeed were actually done for their own good. This attitude is at the very best implicitly racist, and, of course, often explicitly so.

He also attacks the Labour party for its complicity in imperialism. There have been many individual anti-imperialist members of the Labour party, and although Blair dumped just about everything the Labour party stood for domestically, they were very much in the party’s tradition in their support for imperialism and the Iraq invasion. The Labour party’s supposed anti-imperialist tradition is, he states, a myth invented for the consumption of its members.

He also makes it clear that the book is also concerned with exploring Britain’s subordination to American imperialism. While he has very harsh words for Blair, describing his style as a combination of sincerity and dishonesty, the cabinet as ‘supine’ and Labour MPs as the most contemptible in the party’s history, this subordination isn’t actually his. It is institutional and systemic, and has been practised by both Tory and Labour governments despite early concerns by the British to maintain some kind of parity with the Americans. He then goes on to say that by opposing our own government, we are participating in the global fight against American imperialism. And the struggle against imperialism will go on as long as it and capitalism are with us.

This is controversial stuff. When Labour announced that they wanted to include the British empire in the school history curriculum, Sargon of Gasbag, the man who wrecked UKIP, produced a video attacking it. He claimed that Labour wanted to teach British children to hate themselves. The photo used as the book’s cover is also somewhat controversial, because it’s of a group of demonstrators surrounding the shot where Bernard McGuigan died. McGuigan was one of the 14 peaceful protesters shot dead by British soldiers in Derry/London Derry in Bloody Sunday in 1972. But no matter how controversial some might find it, it is a necessary corrective to the glorification of empire most Brits have been subjected to since childhood, and which the Tories and their corporate backers would like us to return.

The book has the following contents:

The Jamaican Rebellion and the Overthrow of Slavery, with individual sections on the sugar empire, years of revolution, overthrow of slavery, abolition and the Morant Bay rebellion of 1865.

The Irish Famine, the great hunger, evictions, John Mitchel and the famine, 1848 in Ireland, and Irish republicanism.

The Opium Wars, the trade in opium, the First Opium War, the Taiping rebellion and its suppression, the Second Opium War, and the Third Opium War.

The Great Indian Rebellion, 1857-58, the conquest of India, company rule, the rebellion, war and repression. The war at home, and the rebellion’s aftermath.

The Invasion of Egypt, 1882, Khedive Ismail and the bankers, demand for Egyptian self-rule, the Liberal response, the vast numbers of Egyptians killed, the Mahdi’s rebellion in the Sudan, and the reconquest of Egypt.

The Post-War Crisis, 1916-26, the Irish rebellion, 1919 Egyptian revolt, military rule in India, War in Iraq, and the 1925 Chinese revolution.

The Palestine Revolt, Zionism and imperialism, the British Mandate, the road to revolt, the great revolt, and the defeat and aftermath.

Quit India, India and the Labour Party, towards ‘Quit India’, the demand for the British to leave, the final judgement on British rule in India and the end of British rule.

The Suez Invasion: Losing the Middle East, Iranian oil, Egypt and the canal zone, Nasser and the road to war, collusion and invasion, aftermath, the Iraqi endgame.

Crushing the Mau Mau in Kenya, pacification, the Mau Mau revolt, war, repression, independence, the other rebellion: Southern Rhodesia.

Malaya and the Far East, the First Vietnam War, Indonesia 1945-6 – a forgotten intervention, the reoccupation of Malaya, the emergency and confrontation.

Britain and the American Empire, Labour and the American alliance, from Suez to Vietnam, British Gaullism, New Labour, and the Iraq invasion.


































The Authorities’ Failure to Prosecute Men Accused of Threats to Devon Charity

This is very disturbing, and suggests that some extremely dangerous, violent crims have friends in high places. On Tuesday Mike put up a piece about the failure of the Crown Prosecution Service to take to court the alleged perpetrators of a series of attacks and threats against a Devon charity, Humanity UK, or Humanity Torbay. Elaine Waugh, one of the charity’s trustees, had talked about the threats the men had made against her and her charity as well as series of attacks against its offices and her car. The men had threatened in May last year to break the arms of the charity’s trustees and throw acid in their faces. The case has only just come to crown court, but despite the men pleading guilty, the CPS has decided not to prosecute. The case would be too costly.

Waugh also told how the charity’s offices had been broken into, and destroyed with bleach. She said that the police weren’t interested in it when they came. The cops were there for about 25 minutes and then left after giving her a crime number. After that she heard nothing. But they did take a list of the charity’s donors, who were members of the Labour Party. In July last year there was also an attack on her house in which the family car was firebombed. The police told her it was an anti-Semitic attack. She doubts this as her husband and two children are Jews, but she is herself Roman Catholic. She therefore feels it was political. She also said that she has been informed that there are 465 other charities suffering similar attacks.

She said too that the charity had also lost its chief source of funding after a she made and posted a video on YouTube criticising the Conservative government. This was seen over six million times during the election campaign.

She believed that her alleged harassers had a ‘hate’ page on Facebook, but complained of the company’s double standards. Although the harassers got away with their comments, she found that her charity’s page was taken down if they said anything to upset the right.

Mike also says in his piece that it costs about £1,400 a month to run, and provides services for the poor and homeless. He provides a link so that readers may donate to it if they choose.

Court case over acid attack threat to charity trustees is cancelled – because the CPS says it’s too costly

This is very disturbing, as it suggests that someone in power is actively protecting these men, if they are guilty of these crimes. I remember the scandal back in the 1980s when it was revealed that a number of policemen were members of the League of St. George. I believe this outfit was founded during the Second World War as an SS auxiliary regiment for English Fascists. It also reminds of the ‘social cleansing’ carried out by South American Fascists in the 1990s. Inspired by the ethnic cleansing by the Serbs and the other belligerents during the war in the former Yugoslavia, these thugs attacked and killed the poorest in their societies. There was a chilling video on the news of a group of them burning a homeless man to death. In Jamaica in the 1970s there was also an alliance between corrupt politicians and the Yardie gangs. The politicos would hire them to threaten and kill their opponents. And the ultimate end of such relationships is the violence and lawlessness of Weimar Germany, when the Nazis and other extremist groups ran amok beating and  killing their left-wing and democratic enemies.

This raises a terrible question: does the authorities refusal to prosecute this case mean we can expect similar right-wing lawless protected and encouraged by senior politicos and members of the judiciary in Boris’ post-Brexit Britain?

Book Review: Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands by Hazel V. Carby

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 15/01/2020 - 11:05pm in

In Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two IslandsHazel V. Carby explores the imperial connections between the UK and Jamaica and their impact upon the lived experiences of individuals, positioning family memories and histories as a starting point for telling a broader story about constructions of Britishness. The book is an exceptional account of the intimate and intricate relationships between geographical, economic, social and personal spaces created under British colonialism, writes Manuela Latchoumaya.

Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands. Hazel V. Carby. Verso. 2019. 

Find this book: amazon-logo

As she was growing up in Imperial Britain, ‘The Girl’ got used to being asked ‘The Question!’: ‘Where are you from?’. The daughter of a white Welsh mother and a black Jamaican father, Hazel V. Carby explores the nature of the imperial connections between the UK and Jamaica – as well as their consequences for the lived experiences of individuals – in a detailed account she refuses to call a memoir, instead positioning family memories and histories as a starting point for telling a broader story about constructions of Britishness. A Professor Emeritus of African American Studies, Carby demonstrates that British colonialism and imperialism have created intricate relationships between geographical, economic, social and personal spaces.

In the first part of Imperial Intimacies, ‘Inventories’, the author begins by contextualising the encounter between her parents. Iris Leaworthy and Carl Carby met in the early 1940s at a dance organised for men from the local Royal Air Force (RAF) stations. At that time, Iris was a civil servant in the Air Ministry, while Carl was an Airman in the RAF. Interestingly, Carl and Iris were already indirectly linked by a common practice before their first encounter in the heart of the imperial metropole – the celebration of Empire Day every 24 May. Iris’s Welshness did not compromise her sense of Britishness, and she regularly celebrated Empire Day when she was in school. In Jamaica, Carl also celebrated this national holiday instituted in schools in 1902. He sang the same songs as Iris and wore the Union Jack’s colours while being taught how to be a ‘Little Black Englishman’.

Iris always praised herself for being the only woman who would dance with Carl – her encounter with a black Jamaican man made her conscious of her whiteness and of the power it gave her over Carl. Years later, during their marriage, she would forbid Carl from cooking traditional Jamaican food and would only allow him to assist her in the kitchen in the preparation of English meals. Although this happened after Carl’s suicide attempt by putting his head in the gas oven, the kitchen can be regarded as a metaphor for Iris’s power over Carl. This part of the house was always ruled by Iris, and Carby believes that her father’s decision to try and take his life in the kitchen was not coincidental.

Carby uses her parents’ story to illustrate the ways in which British imperialism led to particular encounters between racialised bodies – those of white women and black men. Most black men in Britain had served during World War II – for example, the majority of passengers of the Empire Windrush, which disembarked on the Thames estuary on 21 June 1948, were returning servicemen. Their presence was, however, unwanted. The Colonial Office envisioned the repatriation of the black populations who had settled in British ports when the war ended, which Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden justified by the pernicious assumption that the ‘British climate badly suited negroes’. The marriage of Carl and Iris was thus perceived as a provocation and as a threat to the governance of Empire.

The perception of sexual relations between black men and white women as a moral issue led to the ‘Brown Babies’ debate of the 1940s. Academics such as Rachel Fleming and Muriel Fletcher undertook anthropometric studies that sought to explain differences in mixed-race children through biological measurements. In a report published in 1930, Fletcher concluded that ‘half-caste children’ could not be ‘absorbed in [British] industrial life’ and that this was leading to ‘grave moral results’. In this context of rampant racism, Carby’s claims of Britishness could be seen as an act of rebellion, as being black and British was perceived as a contradiction in terms in the 1950s.

Indeed, ‘The Girl’ was regarded as a liar by children and adults alike when she declared that she was British and from Folly Gate in Devon. She was often asked ‘how she got there’. Even her mother would adopt racist behaviour by insisting that her daughter was ‘not coloured’. When she recounted her father’s story in class, her professors told her that there were no ‘coloured’ people in Britain during World War II and publicly humiliated her by stating that no such people could have served in the RAF, the most elite branch of the British military. She was also taught that Britain had stood alone in 1940 against Nazi Germany – although recruitment for the RAF had begun in Jamaica in 1942, and nearly 12,500 volunteers from the Caribbean had participated in the war. Carby consistently refers to herself as ‘The Girl’ throughout the book, perhaps as a way to emphasise the detrimental impacts racism and rejection have had on her self-esteem. She repeatedly mentions ‘The Girl’ as a shadow of the woman she has become: ‘the girl I no longer recognize, the girl I have long since left behind, the girl I discarded and rejected’ (22).

In the later parts of Imperial Intimacies, Carby tracks the history of her ancestors. Her thorough search in the archives leads her to Bath and Bristol, the respective birthplaces of her maternal great-grandmother Rose and of her maternal great-great-grandmother Rebecca. The author shows how the wealth of these two cities came from enslavement and colonial oppression. For instance, some of the richest Bristolians had interests in the plantations of the Caribbean and Virginia in the late seventeenth century. By the late eighteenth century, at least 40 per cent of Bristol’s wealth derived from activities sustained by the slave system. In particular, sugar, tobacco and cocoa were crucial to the city’s economy. Carby also stresses the mechanisms of economic compensation that followed the official abolition of slavery in 1834. For instance, the British Treasury gave William Thomas Beckford, a slave owner from Bath, £12,800 in compensation for the loss of his ‘property’ – 660 enslaved human beings in Jamaican plantations. Moreover, former enslaved people had to continue working as apprentices for 41.5 hours a week for the ‘customary’ considerations – food, clothing, housing and medical care – they had received when they were enslaved.

The author’s archive search finally brings her to Lilly Carby, a slave owner from Lincolnshire. Carby was sent to Jamaica alongside two of his cousins in 1788 by the British army. At the time, the British government was encouraging white people to settle in Jamaica – several Parliamentary Acts were passed in the eighteenth century. Indeed, as black people outnumbered white people, the government feared the possibility of black rebellion in the plantations. Lilly Carby acquired later a coffee plantation he renamed ‘Lincoln’. There, he endeavoured to recreate the life he had in Lincolnshire by renaming some of the people he enslaved with the names of the relatives he had left behind in England. Thus, in England, John, George, Dick, James and Bridget were Lilly Carby’s white and free relatives. In Jamaica, however, they were his black and enslaved ‘properties’. Lilly Carby also raped several black women and gave their children the names of his parents. Carl Carby, Hazel’s father, is himself a descendant of Lilly Carby. This is why the question ‘Are you from the black Carbys, or from the white Carbys?’ oversimplifies the realities of plantation life and their impacts on contemporary Jamaican society.

The connections created by the forced encounters between white owners and black enslaved people, and the subsequent ones between white women and black men who had come to defend what they were taught was the ‘Mother Country’, led to the ‘imperial intimacies’ Carby describes in her book. These meant that the imperial metropole shaped what was happening in the colonies – physical and psychological forms of oppression – as citizens from the imperial peripheries also shaped occurrences in Britain – such as by contributing to the wartime effort and by settling in a country they had helped to reconstruct after the war. Carby’s book is an exceptional account of such intimacies, and she manages to explain them in an original and uncommon way. By using examples from her own background, she brilliantly demonstrates that ‘the personal’ is indeed political.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 

Image Credit: Iris and Carl Carby, 1944, family photograph, provided courtesy of Verso/Hazel Carby.