If anyone wondered on how the Coalition Government would respond to the surge of Ukip they need only observe the actions of Home Office officials at a number of London stations. Many witnesses have reported that only black or Asian people have been randomly stopped, humiliated and degraded in a search for illegal immigrants.
When this news story broke I thought I had woken up in early 1980s Brixton where I was once arrested for peering through a shoe shop window.
I’m sure Theresa May and her mouthpieces will claim that the operation has led to a number of arrests and her department is utilising everything in its power to seize illegal immigrants and send them back to their country of origin.
But in London 2013, where just a year ago we showcased to the world in the Olympic opening ceremony how supposedly integrated and tolerant we are of race, for black British citizens who were born and raised in this land, to be stopped indiscriminately when going about their daily business is the ultimate humiliation and a blatant infringement on their human rights.
It’s an action that reveals that despite the tireless work of many campaigners fighting for racial equality, if a government is under increasing pressure they will not only pull out the race card, they will serrate the edges of the whole pack and throw it in any black or brown face.
If there was any intelligence that led to these random checks then the Home Office should immediately clarify this. Theresa May herself should answer the question on why only black or Asian people were targeted? Was this action on her orders? If not then who? Someone out there rubber-stamped this directive.
Perhaps this government doesn’t consider that white people whose place of origin is Serbia, New Zealand or anywhere else in the world could not possibly overstay their visa.
I’m now expecting this government to order any people of colour who were born in this country to wear special badges so it would make the Home Office clampdown a little easier. I think they did something similar in Nazi Germany.
My fear is that this policy wasn’t designed to foster healthy race relations or even a serious attempt to counter the problems of illegal immigrants.
I don’t believe there is any coincidence between the “go home or face arrest” van and the recent stop and search checks at our London stations.
I do believe this is a calculated shift by Theresa May to win back votes from Ukip for the Conservatives and also to bolster her own standing within her own party to ready herself for a future leadership bid. “I’m tough on immigration,” I can hear her screech in her address at the next Tory conference.
While Ms May plays politics, resentment among the black and Asian community will grow and we will all wake up to more 1980s dawns as this is played out until the next general election. I don’t think Ms May cares a damn.
Alex Wheatle is a writer and anti-racism campaigner
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