THE Government’s website reminds us that the responsibilities of the Home Office include ‘securing the UK border’. As one of its goals, the department also lists ‘control migration’.
No, don’t laugh.
Last year’s surprising appointment of Priti Patel led to cautious optimism that a genuine conservative finally had been installed as Home Secretary – one who would recognise that ‘securing the UK border’ and ‘controlling immigration’ are not mutually exclusive objectives; the former is in fact a precondition for the latter.
Alas, Patel’s actions have so far fallen far short of her robust rhetoric. For example, despite declaring during April that she is ‘determined to stop this criminal trade’ of illegal Channel crossings, Migration Watch UK estimates that this year there will be at least 7,500 illegal crossings, a projection based upon there having been a four-fold annual increase in arrivals detected during the first half of 2020.
The unceasing Channel traffic evidently is of far greater concern to Nigel Farage than to the Home Secretary.
While Nigel continues to spotlight the ‘daily invasion’, last Tuesday Priti Patel reassured the Commons that ‘urgent and extensive work is taking place across the Home Office and beyond’. Is her department plotting to halt the felonious fleet? Or developing a fresh initiative to curb inner city street violence? How about preventing further vandalism and destruction of public monuments?
No, instead of stopping illegal entries and tackling lawlessness, Priti Patel has a loftier aim: ‘My ambition is for a fair, humane, compassionate and outward-looking Home Office that represents people from every corner of our diverse society, which . . . [drum roll] . . . makes our country great.’
The Home Secretary was updating the House on her department’s implementation of all 30 recommendations contained in the report Windrush Lessons Learned Review.
Published last March, the investigation by Wendy Williams, HM Inspector of Constabulary, stopped short of arraigning the Home Office for the catch-all crime of ‘institutional racism’. However, rather than assign personal blame – ‘many [Home office staff] demonstrate excellence in what they do on a daily basis’ – Williams ascribes the scandal to ‘institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race and the history of the Windrush generation’.
It is important to acknowledge that some people who had lived in Britain for many decades, and who were fully entitled to continue doing so, suffered outrageously because of bone-headed faceless officialdom: Priti Patel justifiably describes the egregious episode as ‘an ugly stain on the face of our country and on the Home Office’. But rather than root out the individual incompetence, which in public sector bureaucracies is never pinpointed, Patel promises ‘sweeping reforms to our culture, policies, systems and working practices’.
You can guess what this means. ‘Righting the wrongs and learning from the past’, will entail ‘mandatory training for new and existing members of Home Office staff to ensure that everyone working in the Department understands and appreciates the history of migration and race in this country . . . all new policies are [to be] developed in an inclusive way, factoring in the cultural and historical context, and with effective mechanisms to monitor and, where necessary, resolve any concerns’.
The staff sent for this involuntary indoctrination – sorry, training – will be part of an ‘inclusive workforce . . . the Home Office must reflect the diverse communities that it serves at every single level’. Patel protests: ‘There are simply not enough black, Asian or minority ethnic staff working at the top in senior roles, and there are far too many times when I am the only non-white face in the room.’
To remedy this, not only will Patel impose ‘more diverse shortlists for senior jobs’, the Home Office’s aim of ‘12 per cent BAME representation in senior roles’ does not satisfy her: ‘My ambition is to go further, because the Department cannot truly reflect the communities it serves unless it represents the people within them.’
Having hitherto been presumed to be a muscular meritocrat, Priti Patel’s desire for discriminatory recruitment and promotion is deeply depressing. For connoisseurs of politically correct claptrap wrapped in verbiage, Patel’s full statement to the Commons can be read here and viewed here.
Alternatively, watch the short clip below. Close your eyes and Priti Patel’s wet words could easily have been spoken by insipid predecessors such as Theresa May and Amber Rudd. Or even, when she was on Labour’s front bench, by Diane Abbott.