The Guardian view on the Windrush anniversary: more bitter than sweet | Editorial

Celebrations to mark the ship’s arrival won’t mend the lives ruined by Theresa May’s cruel immigration policy

There will be celebrations tomorrow to mark the 70th anniversary of the arrival at Tilbury docks of the Empire Windrush from the Caribbean. For thousands of British people, including those not directly descended from the 1948 pioneers, it is a hugely symbolic moment. But for a large number of Caribbean-born British citizens – we won’t know how many until the government releases figures – the day will be more bitter than sweet, thanks to the “hostile environment” policy that, in a tragically high number of cases, ruined their lives. Anniversaries are all about remembering, and the story of postwar immigration is something Britain has often seemed keen to forget. While historical amnesia did not cause the Home Office’s brutal treatment of people brought here from Commonwealth countries as children, it surely made it easier.

If it helps fill a gap in our knowledge, as Black History Month tries to, this 70th birthday will be useful. But amid the evocative photographs of smartly dressed young men and women on deck, don’t forget that until it was forced to change course by the Guardian’s Amelia Gentleman – who this week won the Paul Foot award for her reporting – the UK government was set on deporting members of the Windrush generation.

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