AMBER Rudd must be thrilled by the arrival of Unnamed Prince Baby (when the solid English name is announced, please feel free to slot it in here).
The latest Windsor arrival is splashed all over the front pages and wrapped up in souvenir supplements – eight pages in the Daily Telegraph, one inky sheet for every royal pound.
So soon out of the womb and duty already being done. Congratulations, young sir. You have swept away nearly all the stories about the hasty climbdown in the Windrush scandal.
Scandal is a word much bandied around by newspapers. Here it is used perfectly correctly. Sorry is a word rarely muttered in politics. Here it is being muttered through clenched teeth, don’t you think?
Even in attempting to wrap up this whole shameful episode, the home secretary still strikes the wrong note. “I want the Windrush generation to get British citizenship,” she said in her Commons statement. She ‘wants’ them to have something they already thought they’d got. Something everyone told them they had, until the rules were changed behind their backs, all in the name of trying to look tough on immigration.
Rudd said in the chamber: “This is a failure by successive governments to ensure these individuals have the documentation they need and this is why we must urgently put it right.”
Oh, Amber – you don’t need to go around blaming ‘successive governments’ as the one you represent will do nicely. The link between this scandal and Mrs Maybe’s hostile environment policy towards immigration is without dispute.
The breadcrumb trail of this scandal leads back to your boss’s days as home secretary – or Go-Home-Secretary, as I like to call her, in honour of those vans she sent around north London bearing posters telling illegal immigrants to do just that.
At this point, I would like to make two apologies. The first is to heartless bureaucracy, as previously blamed for causing this scandal. On reflection, you are not to blame, even if those carrying out your orders clearly lack a heart. But we shouldn’t blame heartless bureaucracy – we should blame the politics behind the bureaucracy, heartless politics if you prefer. That’s what this scandal is about.
I hope that heartless bureaucracy will accept my apology.
The second apology is due to Amber Rudd.
In an earlier blog, I inadvertently suggested that it was tough to carry the can for your boss who caused this whole mess. I now understand, according to a story in Saturday’s Guardian, that you boasted in a private memo to Theresa May that you had ambitious plans to be even tougher on immigration than she was.
I am truly sorry for accidentally showing you in a better light than you deserved. And I will try never again to suggest that you might in any way be the teeniest bit liberal in your thinking.
This should all be natural territory for the Labour Party, if Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t still trying to pull his wellies from the mud of alleged anti-semitism. In fairness, Labour has made all the right noises about the Windrush scandal, but the lingering accusations of anti-semitism stain its moral superiority.
The swell of support for the Windrush generation reflects another side to the endless rows about immigration. Too many Britons oppose immigration when it is represented in the abstract or portrayed merely as a faceless threat, but they soften when faced with an identifiable group of people, such as the ageing and elderly members of the Windrush generation.
But if our policy towards that group was so wrong, doesn’t that suggest that our whole immigration policy is wrong?
There has always been a good liberal case for immigration, and Labour should always make that case.