The treatment of the Windrush Generation confirms what there has long been grounds for believing . Mrs May struggles with Strategy . So far there is only one strategic decision she has got right – the so called Submarine May ( author David Cameron ) strategy which led to her eventually unopposed accession to the office of Prime Minister
To be fair to Mrs May she was clear about what she was doing. She was promoting a ‘really hostile environment’ to make life difficult for those without papers . Unsurprisingly a ‘Hostile Environment’ policy has a hostile impact on those who come within its scope .
However as is the case ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and ‘We will make a Success of Brexit’ settling on a soundbite as a policy goal without the necessary intellectual and practical underpinning is a recipe for disaster , or as bureaucrats put it , sub optimal outcomes .
The Hostile Environment policy has had a decidedly sub optimal outcome for the Windrush Generation .
The analysis of how this came about is relatively straightforward . Mrs May became Home Secretary with a Conservative Manifesto commitment to bring down net migration to the tens of thousands , subsequently (in the face of all the evidence that this was an ill-advised and unachieveable target ) repeated in 2015 and 2017 .
Slightly over half of immigration was from outside the EU . Mrs May and her advisers decided to bear down on this . The policy direction was to create a hostile environment by looking at the events in life where people used public services or rented properties or changed jobs . Proof would be required .
This was an intensification of a long term trend of tightening up requirements but crucially it placed a heavy burden on the individual to provide the papers to prove entitlement .
The nation had moved stealthily and dramatically from an assumption of entitlement to a requirement to provide proof.
It does not take much contemplation of this subject to realise that a Hostile Environment Policy should go hand in hand with an Identity Strategy i.e people should have the means to demonstrate their right to be here .
In Europe there has long been the presumption of proof being required and people have identity cards .
In the UK we have rather prided ourselves on not requiring identity cards .
In the absence of identity cards the passport becomes a de facto identity card .
However in the UK 9.5 million people do not have a passport . These people were always going to have a struggle to satisfy the new burden of proof , particularly those who had been here for many years and had never dreamed this burden would be placed upon them . All of this could and should have been obvious to the architects of the policy .
The Hostile Environment policy was a catastrophe unfolding from its inception . There was a gaping strategic hole at its heart . Surprisingly many commentators are applying the law of unintended consequences. There is no basis for such a charitable interpretation.
However it has been given a boost by the self serving and spurious claim but forward by government sources and repeated by Laura Kuensbergg that the pattern (of the impact of Mrs May’s Hostile Environment policy on the Windrush Generation) had only reached the most senior levels in Home Office a couple of weeks ago .
This claim is implausible .Caribbean High Commissioners say they have been raising concerns for two years .
In truth the hostile consequences were foreseeable and intended .
The Windrush Scandal is Mrs May’s creation . She set out to be really hostile and she has succeeded . The responsibility is hers . Maybe she should take note of the advice she gave to Beverly Hughes in 2004 :
Mrs May’s words of 2004 aptly describe much of what is happening now as a direct result of her Hostile Environment policy . She has no-one to blame but herself and she should do the right thing : resign