When Britain’s outgoing prime minister shared a Windrush Day message on Twitter, condemnation was swift.
On Saturday Theresa May tweeted a two minute video clip in which she acknowledged the Windrush generation’s contribution to Britain and offered warm words of praise for the migrants on the first national Windrush Day.
″They [Windrush generation] helped rebuild post-war Britain laying the foundation for the country we know today - and making our culture richer and our society stronger,” she said.
″When Britain made the call for help, they did not hesitate to answer. So, on this Windrush Day and everyday, let us give thanks to those pioneering men and women. They crossed an ocean to build a future for themselves, for their communities and, above all for the United Kingdom - the country that will always be their home”.
Reacting to the clip, Louise Haigh, Labour MP for Sheffield Heeley and Shadow Policing & Crime Minister, said: “This woman has precisely no shame”.
While leader of the Labour Scottish Party, Richard Leonard, tweeted: “You forgot the part [when] your government deported them unlawfully.”
Brent MP Dawn Butler tweeted: ”@TheresaMay as you seek to leave a legacy. It would be nice if you amend your wrong of the hostile environment and leave a lasting symbol and ensure that all Windrush cases are resolved before you leave office.”
Amelia Gentleman, the Guardian journalist who broke news of the Windrush scandal in April 2018, tweeted: “This is really annoying. An earnest declaration by Theresa May (her eyes straining to look sincere) of the debt owed to the Windrush generation when these same people are still suffering from the hostile environment policies she introduced and hasn’t repealed.”
“Couldn’t make this up. The very person responsible for causing chaos and untold distress to Windrush generation is now thanking them,” one Michelle Glascott observed.
One user, with the @SkyeCitySeries, wrote: “Imagine being thanked by your abuser who deported your friends, many never to return. Thanked by the woman who refused to compensate so many victims. Thanked by the leader who wanted you out the country. As a father of mixed-raced kids, I’d like to say Fuck Theresa May!”
A man, who goes by the name Keith Harris, posted a sarcastic reaction: “Alexa. Show me the exact moment where self awareness died”.
“The hypocricy is staggering,” another person said.
Someone else wrote: “Fair play, if my entire generation had had been recently deliberately targeted, dehumanised and many of our lives personally destroyed by one specific person, I reckon I’d forgive them for doing a clout chasing ‘cheers for rebuilding our country though! ta’ post on Twitter”.
Speaking to HuffPost UK, 26-year-old IT technician Jordan Campbell, a Windrush descent, said: “Theresa May’s got some nerve, hasn’t she? It’s insulting and, therefore, probably best she didn’t post the video at all. This woman is responsible for the racist and discriminatory policies which continue to disadvantage the Windrush generation. What a liberty!”
Marianne Miles said: “After deporting my people you’re now giving me permission to celebrate them? We already have an event, it’s called Notting Hill Carnival and this government has tried for 50 years to give it a bad reputation or stop it altogether. The next move is for Windrush Day to replace it”.
In April 2018, it emerged that many people who arrived in the UK from the Commonwealth in the 1950s and 60s to help rebuild Britain after the second world war were being targeted by government’s ‘hostile environment’ policies – with some being deported, denied healthcare, and facing imprisonment.
These measures were introduced during Theresa May’s tenure as Home Secretary and many people have not forgiven her for this.
“Wicked woman, she [Theresa May] is. She’s started the Windrush scandal even though black people built England,” 36-year-old Bridgitte, a Jamaican, told HuffPost UK following May’s resignation.
“When the country was mash-up after war, they called for we, and when we’ve now built it up, they’re running us out. Immigration built England, so you can’t say you want to get rid of it.”
The Windrush scandal prompted a national debate about British immigration policy, Home Office practice and race relations in Britain.
The scandal led to the resignation of the home secretary, Amber Rudd, and the rebranding of the ‘hostile environment’ to ‘compliant environment’.