We hear a lot about ‘British Values’. They’re something schools are supposed to promote. Ofsted expects it. Inspectors must evaluate ‘the effectiveness and impact of the provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development’. This includes:
‘…acceptance and engagement with the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.’
Guidance to schools on promoting British Values says:
‘A key part of our plan for education is to ensure children become valuable and fully rounded members of society who treat others with respect and tolerance, regardless of background.’
But the actions of the British government show disrespect, not respect, towards those of a particular ethnic group – the children of immigrants from Commonwealth countries who were invited to the UK to work in transport, industry and public services.
In 1971, all Commonwealth citizens living in the UK were granted indefinite leave to remain. Yet because of sloppy paperwork at the Home Office, no record was kept of those allowed to stay, the BBC reports.
This has resulted in harrowing cases of immigrants who were given permision to stay being unable to prove they are here legally. As illegal immigrants they are not entitled to NHS treatment or welfare and face the prospect of being deported. But the UK has been their home for decades.
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants told the BBC this would likely affect Australian, Canadian, South African, Indian and Pakistan-born citizens who faced the same problem. Its chief executive, however, noted that immigrants who were white were less likely to be asked to prove they had the right to remain in the UK.
It’s thought this problem will particularly affect children of immigrants from the Caribbean. These are known as the Windrush generation after the ship which brought West Indian immigrants to the UK to help with post-war reconstruction.
22 June 2018 will be the 70th anniversary of the arrival of SS Empire Windrush. Celebrations are being planned including a display at the Chelsea Flower Show which will feature the best 100 pictures sent in by young people commemorating the ship’s arrival.
But it appears the contribution of the Government to the anniversary is to threaten many of the Windrush generation with deportation.
The Government wants schools to promote values which ensure young people will be valuable and fully rounded members of society. At the same time, the Government is taking action which will cause harm to people who have been valuable and fully rounded members of society. This is hypocrisy. Worse, it is inhumane.
A government petition to grant amnesty to those affected has already attracted over 130,000 signatures. This is enough to ensure a debate in Parliament. A second petition has been started by 38 Degrees.