Cllr Tim Briggs is a councillor in Lambeth.
As the only Conservative councillor in Lambeth it is exciting that the Conservative Government nationally, on behalf of the nation, is establishing a Windrush Day annually on 22nd June. This will be a yearly celebration to recognise the contribution of the Windrush generation and those descended from the men and women who came to the United Kingdom in 1948.
My ward of Clapham Common is part of that history, as it still has the deep bomb shelter on Clapham Common Southside that temporarily housed new arrivals. It still exists near Clapham South tube – Transport for London has plans to turn it into a café.
Windrush Day also recognises what these arrivals have gone through to make a life for themselves and their families here in the UK. They saw themselves as Britons from the Caribbean. England was seen as the Motherland, they spoke English, they received a British education, they used British currency, and were ruled by the British Government under English law. They pledged allegiance to the Queen and felt a part of this country in every way possible. So the hurt they must have felt as a result of suffering small or large acts of discrimination, or recently from being treated unfairly by an immigration system that chose to dispense with the careful respect to which all citizens of the UK are entitled, a respect that is a most British thing – that must have been profoundly hurtful.
Establishing Windrush Day is the country reaching out a hand to that community, and asking to be forgiven. To move on, together. It is a sign of an inclusive, far-sighted Conservative Government that wishes to address past wrongs and recognise the enormously positive contribution to life in the UK made by people from the Caribbean.
However, Labour councillors and the wealthy Labour establishment in Lambeth are not helping. They must make a distinction between recognising and celebrating our cultural and racial diversity, and the insidious and self-destructive values espoused in far-Left ‘identity politics’. Identity politics blights relationships by seeking to make all negative aspects of life for our communities in the UK the ‘fault’ of mainstream society. Identity politics asserts that everyone not white or male is a victim, and that all white people are racist, and that the history of Britain as a country admired across the world for the opportunities and freedoms that it provides, is overshadowed by historic acts of colonial oppression.
To move away from a politics of identity, Labour councillors in Lambeth must do their part. They can help the Windrush community and their descendants by ending the commissions set up for Labour-Lambeth party political purposes, end the stream of divisive taxpayer-funded Labour propaganda that pours out from Lambeth Council, and run services for everyone with the same level of competence as nearby Conservative boroughs like next-door Wandsworth, which is now the fourth best place in the country for children from low income families to grow up and do well in life.
Lambeth Council should also work tirelessly to ensure that the outcomes sought by residents are achieved in the services they pay for. We should lower the high tax burden on residents from the Caribbean that for decades has held them back. The vast majority have aspirations for themselves and their families, but do not break free from the decades-long cycle of voting for Labour councillors telling them what to do, and telling them how lucky they are to have Labour councillors.
Treating these residents with honesty about what the council can achieve and what it is for – namely, to provide good local services; not spend their money on pretending to help them – and allowing them to flourish by releasing them from high council tax – this is the only way to end Identity Politics in Lambeth and to celebrate Windrush in the best possible way.