Away From the Numbers
I normally love a big sporting occasion, especially one where the sports aren’t normally in the news like an Olympic Games or something, but I have to say the Commonwealth Games passed me by. What is the Commonwealth exactly? It’s neither an economic market, a trading area, a united political body or even a world force. It’s a ‘friendly collection’ of nations that seems to have no direction or purpose beyond giving British people further cause for nostalgic frottage. The Games themselves seemed more like a village fête with inter-pub events thrown in, rather than anything important.
But the Commonwealth, whose only purpose is to represent the past, is very much part of the thrusting, youthful, Phoenix from the Ashes future of Grand Britannia and her sleek, shackle free voyage hoovering up the world’s free trade deals. At least it was. I suspect that that ambition may have to be re-assessed now however, in light of the fact that Britain not only wants the Commonwealth to buy her stuff but to forcibly take back the descendants of people who legally came to Britain in the first place. It’s always an awkward start to trade talks that, ‘We want your cash, and in return here’s some Marmalade and a load of people we don’t want anymore.’
Lots has been written and said about the Windrush scandal, the disgraceful hair-splitting over when exactly the policy was formulated, the disgusting political games played with the sick and deprived and it all makes such depressing, if tragically unsurprising, reading. I wouldn’t claim to have further insight on that, or even to be truly able to comprehend the feelings of anger, frustration, injustice or helplessness. This is very much targeted at the Black community, and I’ve obviously never felt the burning fury of racism. Although having said that, a mouth-frothing Liverpudlian taxi driver was once so angry at me he screamed, ‘It’s people like you who’ve ruined this country!’
‘People like me?’ I replied, genuinely confused.
‘Yeah. You. Mods and niggers.’
But that hardly gives me claim to brotherhood.
However, I do have a vested interest in this. This blog started the day after the Brexit referendum when, on a journey back to my home in rural France, I decided that I would become French. Not just Breton tops, onions, weeing on the roadside and eating cheese for breakfast French, but proper French. I would take out French citizenship. Lots of people have since regarded that as something of an affectation, a theatrical Remainiac howl of ‘woe is me’, a publicity stunt, a gimmick. Partly I guess that’s all true, but I had a sneaking suspicion all along that if I didn’t do so, my position, my life in France, my ability to easily commute would be jeopardised. For example, EU residents in the UK if they’re not earning, just married to a UK spouse, their legitimacy will be questioned. Their status questioned. It won’t matter that they moved to the UK legally, the UK has changed the rules and they might be deported. That’s the game, the fear, that the British government and to some extent the EU have played on and with for nearly two years. Now, supposing that the EU, in retaliation that their citizens are being treated like that do the same with British citizens living in the EU? You get my point.
‘But it won’t come to that.’ I am told constantly by people from both sides. Really? Two years ago crashing out of the EU, the single market and the customs union was unthinkable too. How many of you thought that British citizens would be deported ‘back’ to somewhere some of them have never even been to? It’s the children of Windrush this week that has the tabloids shedding crocodile tears, but wait until a few hundred thousand Lambert and Butler addicted retired Brits are deported back from Spain because of Theresa May’s ‘Hostile Environment’.
And people just don’t get it. I’ve seen countless times this week, from supposedly intelligent people, the line ‘why are Black people being sent ‘home’ when rapist Romanians are allowed over here and given a mansion?’ It’s all part of the same thing, all part of the idea that all immigration is wrong. The Windrush generation aren’t illegal immigrants at all but May has couched all her responses in a ‘need to clamp down on illegal immigration.’ The disgraceful need to find somebody else that people can blame, not their own government and its cynical, self-serving disregard for its own people, but foreigners. That people now, this week, are saying ‘I’m ashamed of what my country has become’ is all well and good but it was set on this road a few years ago. You should be ashamed of what your country has been for a number of years, not just now. And no-one is immune from that, even Corbyn and his cultish acolytes like to trot out the tired ‘immigrants reduce wages’ cliché. They don’t. Look at the studies, what immigrants add to the country, regardless of culture and a much needed seasoning of the gene soup, economically far outweighs what they ‘take’.
This week’s ‘revelations’ have been depressing not just for the fact of them, but for the response as if it was somehow surprising. It’s been government and to some extent media policy for years, ‘Go Home’, rapist hordes, swamping our clean country. And it will carry on. Windrush is the start. Get used to small communities over the next few years starting campaigns because a girl who’s lived here all her life has to go ‘back’ to Poland on account that her mum doesn’t earn enough, or can’t prove residency for every one of the last fourteen years in the UK. As Diane Abbott pointed out, British people are often more draconian in theory than practice. I hope she’s right.
It’s all very well for Michael Gove to say that Britain, post-Brexit, will be a very enticing place for immigration. That may be the theory, the perception is anything but that and so is the reality. As Home Secretary, Theresa May started this, she vetoed a trade deal with India because of India’s visa requests, she also vetoed an amnesty for exiting UK residing EU citizens. She is to immigration what the Bride of Wildenstein is to plastic surgery, obsessed and ugly. I am sick of pointing out that Brexit was about immigration and essentially racist, we were told that we were patronising for doing so. Well it is, that’s why the Single Market and Customs union are being dismissed. It’s all about immigration, and even if you personally voted for Brexit with no thoughts of immigration in your mind, you only won because of Farage and Johnson and racist dog-whistling. You were on that team, and this is the result.
That infamous sign that appeared in flats for rent in the 1970s, ‘No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs.’ It’s back, shamefully it’s back and hanging up outside Number Ten. Windrush has taken care of the Blacks, Brexit will take care of the Irish and other EU citizens and if you have a dog, it better be a pure-breed sodding Corgi or it’ll probably be out too. I just hope by then I’m all French poodle, because at the moment being British is shameful too.
This blog, bi-weekly, has been read by hundreds of thousands since it first started. It’s a story of my attempts to gain French nationality while covering the madness, as I see it, of post-referendum politics. But hey, here’s a link to my best-selling books!