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Government's Race Inequality Website Shows They Think We Have Short Memories

11/10/2017 12:09 BST | Updated 11/10/2017 12:09 BST
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It seems that today's politicians, particularly ones who are or have previously been at the Home Office, are either afflicted with very short memories themselves or are convinced the UK public are. They also seem to have the impression that the Internet is a thing purely for cat videos and Jihadi Whatsapp groups, and that Google is just a fancy occasionally-animated logo. Because the number of statements and initiatives they put out which flatly contradict things they've said and done in the past, which can be searched for and found in milliseconds, is quite astounding.

In particular, today sees the publication of a government website containing data on race inequality, including statistics relating to work, housing and school. To go with this data there is a government demand that institutions "explain or change" this grievous injustice. Fantastic news.

It's been pointed out that this isn't new information but merely a collation of data already in the public domain, but nevertheless it's clearly a very worthy aim and obviously something to be applauded.

Except some may read this news, see the reams of figures and graphs, and think "Hang on, I remember something about this Government and immigration, I'd like to look deeper" and speed their way to Google or Bing (other search engines are available - would you believe you can still Ask Jeeves? But probably only about Jacob Rees-Mogg).

Anyone searching for "Government record" and "immigration" will find some interesting results.

For instance, they are quite likely to stumble across the fact that the previous Home Secretary, one Theresa May, ordered vans decorated with the sentiment "Illegal Immigrants Go Home" to specifically patrol immigrant areas.

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"Welcome to Britain"

They may also find footage of the current Home Secretary speaking at the Tory Conference last October, discussing immigrants "taking jobs British people could do", in a speech so laden with anti-immigrant sentiment the police actually treated it as a Hate Crime. But those things happened ages ago, right? So we've probably forgotten by now.

Search results also reveal that in September this year the Home Office issued a white paper suggesting an end to free movement in the UK (I pointed out that this will cause more than a few problems in the part of the UK labelled "Northern Ireland"). Saying we may be closing our borders doesn't really send out the message that we're a welcome place to foreigners, or that when they arrive they'll be treated equally, does it?

Then there's the school census for England and Wales, which asks for nationality and country of birth. This could of course be used to provide exactly the kind of statistics the government is reporting today, but also it turns out Theresa had plans to move immigrant children to the bottom of the school places list.

EU nationals who have been living here years have been wrongly sent letters telling them they are being deported, and should "leave or face removal". Landlords now have to check the immigration status of anyone renting their properties - which would make illegal immigrants homeless, as intended, but is also likely to cause many landlords to simply turn down anyone with a foreign name because it's just too much hassle.

And if you can't even be bothered searching the recent government record, you can always read today's news - the Home Office losing a legal challenge that if people are tortured and arrive here as asylum seekers, they shouldn't be thrown in detention cells. The Home Office originally said "nah, they'll be ok" but courts have decided differently.

All in all, this wealth of evidence doesn't paint a picture of a government or Home Office intent on tackling the blight of race inequality in the UK, or welcoming foreigners to our shores with the promise of a better life and equal life chances. Yet today all previous and current evidence is supposed to be forgotten because they've published a report highlighting differences in work, school and housing based on race, and asking others why there is a discrepancy.

It truly does seem that some people have short memories. The thing that needs explanation or change more than anything is the government view on immigration.