'First BAME Home Secretary' headlines distract from racism of Windrush scandal

'First BAME Home Secretary' headlines distract from racism of Windrush scandal
While the appointment of Sajid Javid is being hailed by the Conservative Party, many believe the Thatcherite politician is being tokenised to brush off the Windrush scandal.
2 min read
30 Apr, 2018
Sajid Javid has been appointed as UK Home Secretary [Getty]

Shortly after UK Home Secretary after Amber Rudd resigned on Sunday evening, claiming she "inadvertently misled" fellow MPs about her department's deportation targets, former investment banker Sajid Javid was appointed to take her place.

Rudd faced intensifying pressure over the treatment of elderly Commonwealth citizens primarily from the Caribbean, and told lawmakers last week that there were no targets for the removal of people deemed to be in the country illegally.

But she tendered her resignation after leaked documents addressed to her office showed that such goals were in place.

"I should have been aware of this, and I take full responsibility for the fact that I was not," she said in her resignation letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, conceding that she "inadvertently misled the Home Affairs Select Committee".

Conservative party supporters are hailing the appointment of Javid, the son of a Pakistani immigrant, as turning the page on the Windrush scandal, noting that he is the first person of an ethnic minority background to take the job, one of the most powerful seats in UK politics.

Javid's family moved to the UK from Pakistan in 1961, just one year before the Conservative party introduced the Commonwealth Immigrants Act which placed restrictions on the free movement of Commonwealth citizens in the UK.

Despite being a representative of a party that began the process of excommunicating Commonwealth citizens, ultimately leading to today's Windrush crisis, Javid claims to have empathy with those who became victim to the scandal, saying it felt "very personal" to him.

"I was really concerned when I first started hearing and reading about some of the issues. It immediately impacted me. I'm a second-generation migrant. My parents came to this country ... just like the Windrush generation," Javid told The Sunday Telegraph, the day before his appointment.

However, his voting history on immigration issues tells a different story, leading to accusations of "tokenisation" of an ethnic voice to brush off the scandal.

In 2016, Javid voted against banning the immigration detention of pregnant women and against a form of guidance to be taken into account on the immigration detention of vulnerable people.

A year prior, Javid voted in favour a clause which criminalises renting a home to somebody who has no right to rent as a result of their immigration status.

That same year, he voted to extend the government's power to deport an individual before considering an appeal on human rights grounds.