Nothing new under the sun

We begin this week with a shocking story from the 1940s which has seemingly only just come to light :

Chinese seafarers were coerced into leaving UK after war, Home Office admits (Guardian)

‘After responding to calls to serve in the British merchant navy in the Battle of the Atlantic, about 2,000 Chinese seamen remained in Liverpool at the end of the war. They were subject to a secret Home Office campaign in 1945-46 to round up and ship them back east in the cargo holds of British ships.’
‘A significant number had married British women and had children with them in the final years of the war. After boarding ships docked in the Mersey bound for Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore, they were never seen by their families again.’

In some ways, all the more shocking because this all occurred both after they had volunteered to remain to help defend the UK – and that it occurred under the so-called Labour government – the same government that brought us the NHS and the Welfare State, in popular culture widely remembered as the most successfully progressive of all British post-war governments. This just goes to show that there is nothing new under the sun, as well as that racist policies have been pursued by governments of the left as well as the right.

Shamefully, the deportations were kept under wraps for many decades, and in ways reminiscent of the minimum income requirement, unsurprisingly caused lasting intergenerational damages to the families affected. It also of course highlights the ongoing close connections between Britain and Hong Kong, and the special responsibilities that Britain continues to have – and agreed to – in the settlement which led up to the 1997 handover.

Related : Seeking sanctuary in the old empire (The Atlantic). ‘Many Hong Kongers are fleeing to Britain as Beijing imposes its own form of colonial rule and imperialist tendencies…’

Explained in data: What happened to Hong Kong’s protesters? (Hong Kong Free Press)

Another historical injustice is highlighted here – Windrush man was treated shamefully, appeal judges say (BBC).

‘A man who travelled to Britain in 1960 when he was three, as part of the Windrush generation, was “shamefully treated”, senior judges have said.’
‘Hubert Howard was born in Jamaica and died in Britain in 2019, aged 62…’
‘… “Like many others in the Windrush generation, Mr Howard suffered serious problems from being subject to the so-called ‘hostile environment’ as a result of being unable to obtain formal documentation of his immigration status,” said Lord Justice Underhill.’
‘He added that “most seriously”, in 2012, Mr Howard had lost a long-term job as a caretaker after an inspection by immigration officers.’

Unforgivably, as reported by the Guardian in 2019, Mr Howard died without compensation or apology.

The Windrush Help Team’s website is here.

The Movement for Justice is running the #WidenWindrush Campaign

The Windrush Justice Clinic, a collaboration between law centres, community groups and universities, also offers help.

Ukrainian refugee told to declare herself homeless in order to get on council housing list (LBC)

We’ve posted warning of such risks before, and suspect such cases are merely the tip of the iceberg. Back in March, Positive Action in Housing posted warning ‘Homes for Ukraine is a Human Traffickers Charter’ ( ‘Europol has issued an early notification warning advising of the dangers of people trafficking for sex, Labour and organs’ ) and more recently ‘U.K. Visas An “Administrative War Crime”’ ( ‘Boiler checks and the number of rooms take precedence over getting civilians out of a war zone, our investigation finds’ ). PAIH is particularly respected in this area and regularly updates on the situation. They also run the renowned and successful Room for Refugees programme.

Bride-to-be invites Priti Patel to wedding in Chesterfield after Home Secretary intervenes in marriage visa application nightmare (Derbyshire Times)

‘A north Derbyshire bride-to-be has invited leading politician Priti Patel to her nuptials after the Home Secretary saved her wedding day.’

Given the experience of some of our members, this seems to be strangely out of character coming from this Home Secretary, however it must be welcome news for this family and in the interests of fairness, credit where credit is due.

Without wishing to naysay, it’s also only fair to point out that this application is for a marriage visit visa (after which the new husband will need to leave the UK and then apply for a spouse visa, leading to eventual permanent settlement) – as acknowledged in the article) :

‘”Once we’re married, Trent will take the marriage certificate back to the US and then he starts the whole spouse process for me to move over there,” said Carolyn. “ I’ll have to have interviews and medicals and it is going to take at least 12 months.”’

‘It shows them they’re not alone’: inside the UK’s first refugee team (Guardian)

‘Changing Lives FC has lived up to the promise of its name, offering much-needed support to refugees and migrants’

Changing Lives FC on Twitter.

Righter than right: Tories’ hardline drift may lose the public (Guardian)

The Conservative leadership contenders, in their desire to appeal to the reactionary base, may find themselves out of touch with moderate voters, just as Labour seeks to renew its appeal to such voters. This may well be a huge potential problem for the Tories as either Truss or Sunak seek to square the circle of keeping the promises to the base by moving even further to the right, with winning elections which are typically fought on the middle ground and, in times of crisis, by appealing to people’s economic wellbeing – and may be inherent in the way the Conservative Party choose leaders.

Given the cost of living crisis, bread and butter issues – and not incessant culture wars – are at the top of most people’s agendas.

It’s somewhat reminiscent (for those of us of an age) of the 1992 US election – at a time when the Republican Bush campaign was pulled further to the right by their own culture warriors, the Democratic Clinton campaign focused on the essentials. Clinton’s campaign manager James Carville hung a sign in Clinton’s campaign hq reading which became a classic :

  1. Change vs. more of the same.
  2. The economy, stupid
  3. Don’t forget health care

From the opposite side of the American political spectrum, in 1980 the Republican candidate Reagan took a similar approach when he asked ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?’ :

I suspect the populist tide has largely turned and in these difficult times, as both Clinton and Reagan realised, people are more worried about eating and staying warm.

The Brexit predictions that came true, those that didn’t—and what we didn’t see coming (British Medical Journal). The BMJ looks at the impact of Brexit on the medical and nursing professions :

‘The migration of nurses from Europe “fell off a cliff in 2016, partly as a result of Brexit and partly as a result of a new language test that the Nursing and Midwifery Council imposed,” says Dayan. “Since then you see quite a rapid pick-up in non-EU nursing migration, especially after the liberalisation of migration rules in 2019. That’s gone back to delivering several thousand additional nurses recruited abroad every year.”’

Bristol bus boycott campaigner Roy Hackett dies at 93 (Guardian)

Mr Hackett was a remarkable campaigner. ‘The 1963 campaign, which lasted four months, mobilised people across the city to stop using Bristol Omnibus Company buses because of its refusal to hire black and Asian people. At the time, a “colour bar” in Britain meant that people from minority ethnic backgrounds could legally be banned from housing, employment and public places.’
‘The protests that followed not only forced the company to change its policies, but paved the way in passing the Race Relations Act of 1965 and 1968. Hackett was appointed an OBE in 2009 and an MBE in 2020.’

Ugandan Asians 50 years on

2022 marks the 50th anniversary of Idi Amin’s expulsion of Ugandan Asians from the East African country. Given 90 days to leave the country, 27,200 Ugandan Asians settled in the UK – the sudden expulsion in certain ways, in 2022, mirroring both the ongoing refugee crisis related to Ukraine and the settlement of Hongkongers with the PRC crackdown.

As one might expect, there are a lot of interesting stories reflecting on the situation then, the parallels now, and the lives that they made and changed :

Leicester plays mark 50th anniversary of Ugandan Asian exodus (BBC). ‘The theatre said the plays were a “beautiful exploration” of “incredible stories” from the past 50 years.’

‘I was chased by skinheads when I arrived in Leicester’ (BBC) “Part of me felt it was like an adventure and I think I didn’t totally grasp that this would be home. My mum kind of made it out to be, ‘You’re going on holiday – you’re going to have a good time.'”

‘Ugandan Asians like me were resettled within weeks in the 70s. What happened to the UK?’ (Fiyaz Mughal in the Guardian) ‘Priti Patel is also of Ugandan Asian heritage. It’s despicable that she is sending today’s desperate refugees to Rwanda’

‘Amin kicked the Asians out of Uganda 50 years ago – I spoke to some who left, remained, or returned’ (Daily Maverick). ‘In May 2022, I made a trip to Uganda. I have visited several times before, and this time my purpose was to fill in some of the gaps for Expulsion@50, a podcast series I created to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the expulsion of nearly 80,000 Ugandan Asians by Idi Amin in 1972. There are currently 36 episodes in the bag… ‘

I’ve only seen a few of these but it already looks like an excellent podcast series. Episode 1 :

“We need to have more empathy for vulnerable strangers irrespective of their passport status…one day it might be us.” :

The complete series is here.

Cost of living crisis

Some interesting pieces on this :

BP profits triple to £7bn as oil prices surge because of Ukraine war (Guardian)

UK inflation will soar to ‘astronomical’ levels over next year, thinktank warns (Guardian) ‘NIESR said gas price rises and the escalating cost of food would send inflation to 11% before the end of the year while the retail prices index (RPI), which is used to set rail fares and student loans repayments, is expected to hit 17.7%.’

Martin Lewis’ MSE issues urgent energy bill advice as price cap could rise to £3,600 (Mirror) ”Martin Lewis ’ MoneySavingExpert website has updated its latest guidance on whether you should fix into an energy deal now. It comes after experts predicted an even sharper rise to the energy price cap in October.”

The RMT’s Eddie Dempsey says ‘they’re having a disco’ :

Source: By Dj2can – Own work, Public Domain,

Lots of international news which seems to reflect much of what is going on in the UK this week… here’s a selection :

Climate migration growing but not fully recognized by world (Associated Press).

‘Each year, natural disasters force an average of 21.5 million people from their homes around the world, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. And scientists predict migration will grow as the planet gets hotter. Over the next 30 years, 143 million people are likely to be uprooted by rising seas, drought, searing temperatures and other climate catastrophes, according to the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report published this year.’
‘Still, the world has yet to officially recognize climate migrants or come up with formalized ways to assess their needs and help them. Here’s a look at climate migration today.’

With warnings from climate scientists becoming increasingly bleak, it’s likely this is just the beginning.

Source : By NODC –, Public Domain,

UN expert praises generosity towards Ukrainian refugees by Poland and urges Belarus and Poland to end pushbacks (UNHCR)

‘“I am impressed by the Government of Poland for providing significant support to a huge number of refugees fleeing Ukraine in such an intense period. At the same time, we must pay tribute to Polish citizens who have shown solidarity and generosity to Ukrainian refugees. Over 2 million refugees currently stay in Poland and most of them are hosted as guests in private homes by Polish people,” González Morales said in an end of mission statement. ‘
‘“This explains why I do not see refugee camps in Poland,” he said.’
‘However, the Special Rapporteur noted that while Ukrainian refugees are generally well-supported, the realities for migrants, asylum seekers and refugees from other countries of origin seemed very different.’

How have attitudes toward US immigration changed? (

‘A new study that uses artificial intelligence to chart the tone of more than 200,000 congressional and presidential speeches on immigration since 1880 provides a surprising historical perspective.’
‘The study, just published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that the overall trend of political speeches quickly became more sympathetic following World War II and has remained favorable, on average, until today.’

Beni Mellal, Morocco’s city of exile for migrants pushed back from Europe’s borders (El Pais)

Fascinating piece on the journey of refugees to attempt to enter Europe via two tiny Spanish enclaves on the North African coast. ‘For years, Moroccan authorities have expelled refugees attempting to jump the fences into Ceuta and Melilla, two Spanish enclaves in the north of Africa. Dozens of Sudanese migrants remain stranded in one of the country’s poorest cities’

Apart from the human tragedy, to me the existence of these two tiny spots of Spain (Europe) surrounded by Morocco (Africa) leads to some reflection on how arbitrary – historical accidents, really – these borders can be in the first place.

‘Migrant deaths are a feature – not a bug – of US immigration policy‘ (Texas Observer)

‘Little more than a week after a horrific smuggling attempt left 53 people dead in San Antonio, Governor Greg Abbott promised a new border security strategy that doubles down on a century of policies that drive people to take dangerous routes into the United States.’

In our corner of the world, this is reminiscent of some of the worst aspects of UK policy and indeed ‘Fortress Europe’. The draconian enforcement of borders to quel populist fears kills – yet somehow doesn’t actually stop migration.

Dead Sri Lankan detainee’s family to request Japan judicial panel review (Mainichi)

Wishima’s death at age 33 at the Nagoya Regional Immigration Services Bureau after a month of medical complaints including vomiting and stomachaches drew significant attention and sparked an outcry over her treatment.

Sri Lankan’s death in Japan exposes disregard for detainee rights (Nikkei Asia).

Australia holding immigration detainees for average of almost two years, freedom of information request reveals (Guardian)

‘Australia has an “intractable” caseload of people held in immigration detention for long periods largely due to visa cancellations on character grounds.”

Different continent, similar story. Enforcing the unenforceable doesn’t work.

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