Wednesday, 30 March 2016

We Can Export You Wholesale - the bitter future of Theresa May

The British Government is busy advertising on TV at the moment, promoting the idea that trade is automatically good - maybe a debate for another time.

But a centrepiece of this is an Indian man standing in a railway station, for some reason specifically seeking British partners to develop the rail metro network in his country. Here he is...

Often for the wrong historical reasons, India and Britain have strong links, not only in modern trade and (frequently violent) imperialist history, but in personal, human terms with 1,400,000 British citizens tracing their family back to South Asia. Their cultural diversity has enriched our country and somehow, in spite of all the prejudice spat out by so many on the right, you sort of hope that we are slowly getting to a point where the value, in so many different ways, of this and many other communities in the UK is being accepted.

And yet, today we find from the now online-only Independent newspaper that Home Secretary Theresa May used the flimsiest of excuses from a BBC Panorama expose of irregularities at one, single language school to deport some 46,000 students illegally - seven in ten of them from India. Apparently the tests used to decide on deportation were so flimsy that the Upper Tribunal for asylum and immigration has thrown out the Government's case. 

This of course follows on from May's other schemes to ban overseas students from working while studying here and force them to leave almost as soon as they complete their degrees - ignoring the economic, commercial and cultural benefits we gain from graduates who remain and work for some months in the UK. Coupled with a relentlessly hostile media, most of us don't realise just how damaged our country's image is abroad now, seen as we are as rather inward-looking, prejudiced and unwelcoming place - in sharp contrast to an increasingly confident, outward-looking India. Even before the myopia and sociopathic behaviour of the Tory Government, one assessment was that, for all its problems and all our past, India wasn't looking to Britain or anywhere else for ideas or help.

Now of course, with rightwing media hysterically and repeatedly claiming that no one at all is ever expelled from the UK, the figure of 46,000 illegal deportations in under two years may cause a degree of overload in Mail readers heads. Given the disinformation they read each day, they might be surprised to learn that in 2014 alone 38,000 people were deported from the UK, before the student case arose - over 7,300 were from India, and over 5,000 from Pakistan.

But it also represents yet again the deep, deep racism and prejudice seemingly at the centre of our Government and in the heart of Theresa May, assuming of course that she actually has one. (Notably, even the rightwing Daily Telegraph was moved last year to describe some of her plans for illegal migrants as "chilling and bitter").

It is ethically wrong, damaging to tens of thousands of people who came simply to study and learn our language - something more generous minds might see as both a compliment to us rather than a threat, and as something highly positive. Instead, Britain yet again is seen to be at odds with people because of their nationality, their colour and their race, and quite possibly religion too. Our Government's pathetically narrow-minded (and factually wrong) view of foreigners as scroungers out to double cross us will, in the end, damage us far more than them. 

It is their appalling mindset that leads to utterly disgusting tragedies such as that of Bhavisha Ben Patel and her husband Pinakin. This young couple arrived in the UK for a 10 day holiday in Scotland early last year, but were immediately whisked to Yarls' Wood detention centre. This was done because Mrs Patel, naively wanting to be sure she had all the right documents for passport control, had brought her education certificates with her. 

Sady, this was a sure sign, in Theresa-land, that she planned to work here illegally, in spite of having return air tickets and children back in India. Two months later, several weeks after they were due home, they remained in detention and Mr Patel died of a heart attack aged just 33 years. Mrs Patel remained incarcerated for several weeks longer, unable to bury her husband or get home to her family, and prompting a hunger strike in support of her from fellow inmates.

That man in the railway station may not wait for us much longer. After all, if we can't abide his daughter or son coming here to learn for a year or two and lock up compatriots who come for a holiday, why on Earth would he want us to go and work in his country? Soon, despairing of us, he may board one of India's brand new trains and, bound for the future, leave us behind in the dead end siding that is Tory bigotry.

And, of course, as with any Government, it is all done in our name.

No comments:

Post a Comment