The Bouncer

Back in the day in my home town of Bradford I occasionally went to a nightclub called ‘Time and Place’. They wanted enough black people to create a good atmosphere but not so many as to scare away the richer white punters. So they had a black bouncer to do the job. He was ruthless even if you were a friend of his.

If you went there as a black person sometimes you got in and sometimes you didn’t it depended on how many we’re already inside. They would of course never admit this strategy. Sound familiar?

Watching Sajid Javid on Andrew Marr last Sunday reminded me of the bouncer, right down to the bald head and wide leg stance. When Marr brought up racism within the Tory Party Javid replied “Look at me!”. A silly and disingenuous answer. He was implying that because the Tories had appointed an Asian man as the Home Secretary they couldn’t possibly be racist.

The truth was in fact the opposite. Javid’s predecessor Amber Rudd was brought down by the Windrush scandal. The government’s hostile environment codified by the 2016 Immigration Act (but actually in force long before that), had targeted African Caribbean residents of the UK who although they had the legal right to remain here had never been given documentation to prove it.

When ordinary citizens are turned into untrained border guards on pain of fines and imprisonment it is not at all surprising that they throw any undocumented migrant under the bus and refuse to employ, house, treat or pay Windrush migrants, just in case they might be illegals.

This policy was and is institutionally racist. One of the reasons Sajid Javid was appointed Home Secretary was precisely because he was brown and it would therefore make implementing the policy more palatable.

Windrush residents are still being arrested when they go to the Home Office to collect their passports. The compensation scheme set up by the government will go the way of Grenfell. Years will pass and people won’t see a penny for lives ripped apart, bank accounts closed, homes repossessed, healthcare withdrawn and pensions denied.

The fact the hostile (sorry I mean ‘compliant’) environment policy is now being carried out by a brown person doesn’t make it any less racist to anyone with a scintilla of intelligence.

Marcia Hutchinson MBE is a former lawyer and publisher of culturally diverse education materials. She is also a Director of Migrants Union. All her views are expressed in a personal capacity.

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