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As Sajid Javid's first excursion as home secretary proved today, the next victim of the Windrush scandal really could be him

You don’t even need to be an abused ethnic minority British pensioner to know who’s really responsible for the Windrush scandal. But it helps

Tom Peck
Political Sketch Writer
Monday 30 April 2018 19:27 BST
Sajid Javid appointed as Home Secretary

She is a British woman. She has been in Britain since the 1960s. Then she was denied access to basic services by the Home Office, including letters she appears to have written and signed herself, and now she finds herself out of a job.

Amber Rudd may have tried to take responsibility for the Windrush scandal. In fact she is merely its latest victim.

You don’t even need to be an abused ethnic minority British pensioner to know who’s really responsible for the Windrush scandal. But it helps. It also helps that ever since Amber Rudd resigned from the Home Office, actual Windrush victims have formed an orderly queue to point out they don’t hold her responsible. They hold Theresa May responsible. And when you’re under that kind of pressure, it’s very important that somebody else be found to take the blame as quickly as possible.

On Monday afternoon, the home secretary came to the House of Commons to answer an urgent question on the “government’s handling of the Windrush scandal”.

It cannot be ignored that the home secretary who came to the despatch box to do it was not the same home secretary as when the urgent question had been granted. But it almost made no difference.

Sajid Javid, a few hours into his new job, still had the wherewithal to repeat his best Windrush lines. “I myself am a second generation migrant. It could have been my mum, or my uncle, or even me,” he attempted to boom.

I mean, it could have been him. Sajid Javid is after all, the son of a bus conductor from Pakistan. But there are certain registers of righteous anger that are simply not accessible to a chap that was first made a director at Deutsche Bank at the age of 31. It could have been me. I mean, it wasn’t me. Come on. Don’t be daft. I’m absolutely loaded. But it could have been me. And that will have to do.

Though there had been a radical recasting of the lead character, the script was the same. Just as on Thursday, when Amber Rudd had come to the Commons for what turned out to be the curtain-raiser for the final season of her Windrush Apology boxset, the same cameos were there. Philip Davies and Iain Duncan Smith were there to urge the new home secretary NOT to allow the systematic abuse of British pensioners to fool him into going soft on illegal immigrants, because that, after all, is the main point.

There was, yet again, a long queue of Conservative MPs desperate to make the distinction between “legal” and “illegal” migrants, still unaware that the whole point of the scandal is that the pressure put on immigration services to meet targets on the deportation of illegal ones, has caused them to target legal ones too.

Amber Rudd has resigned apparently for not knowing about targets for the deportation of illegal migrants. Ms Rudd has been in politics for long enough for political observers to know such targets are against her own personal politics, if not the politics of her former boss. And yet, here were her colleagues, standing up to make plain their view that the existence of those targets were absolutely correct.

The MPs who got up to tell the new home secretary tales about Windrush victims in their own constituencies are too many to mention. But my count, at the end of his first 45 minutes at the despatch box, he had promised personally to look into at least a dozen cases. He’d best get cracking. The Windrush scandal will surely require more victims at some point. And yes, Mr Javid, it could be you.

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