In what can only be described as bizarre and uninformed, the Saint Lucia Labor Party (SLP) launched an attack on Prime Minister Allen Chastanet describing his interview with Channel 4 in the UK as an embarrassment to Saint Lucia and the Caribbean.
The occasion of Prime Minister Chastanet’s interview was in the wake of much uproar about the UK government’s treatment of the Windrush generation as a result of new Immigration laws passed in 2013, resulting in what has been referred to as a “hostile environment” policy.
The UK Home Office “hostile environment” policy is a set of administrative and legislative measures designed to make staying in the United Kingdom as difficult as possible for people without leave to remain, in the hope that they may “self deport”.
It includes requirements for landlords, the National Health Service (NHS), charities, community interest companies and banks to carry out ID checks before making any services available, and also implemented a more complicated immigration application process.
More than half a million West Indians answered mother England’s call to rebuild the motherland after World War II. They all did so between the 1940s and early 1970s, with most traveling there on the HMT Empire Windrush.
Getting back to Prime Minister Chastanet’s interview, he responded to one of the posed questions by saying that he was not sure of the exact number of St. Lucians or West Indians who had been deported, and that the largely unpopular policy had been an unmistakable “cock-up.” The use of “cock-up” clearly a diplomatic response to whether the British government’s actions were racist.
In an apparent attempt to ridicule Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and Saint Lucia’s High Commissioner to the UK, Guy Mayers, the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) in a press statement chastised, “The SLP believes that the Prime Minister should always ensure that he is properly briefed on what he speaks about so as to not embarrass Saint Lucia.” The SLP went on further to state that it raises questions on the work that High Commissioner, Guy Mayers, is doing in London.
However, just the day before the Allen Chastanet interview, on Wednesday, 18 April 2018, British Prime Minister, Theresa May, when questioned by Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn at Prime Minister’s Questions Time in the House of Commons challenges Prime Minister Theresa May on the exact number of persons deported who are from the Windrush generation.
A noteworthy point is that Commonwealth prime ministers did not have the information either, as they had so indicated by responses of bewilderment on the exact numbers of their own citizens who had been adversely affected by the fallout of the policy affecting the Windrush generation.
At a public meeting of the SLP on Wednesday April 18, 2018 held on the Castries Market steps on Jeremie Street, MP Ernest Hilaire (Castries South) administered a tongue lashing to Guy Mayers because he [Ernest Hilaire] apprised him of the responsibilities and intricacies of his newly appointed position as Saint Lucia’s High Commissioner in the UK. Surprisingly, in all the detail and maypwee he never mentioned having conveyed any information of the British government’s “cock-up” with the Windrush generation. After all, if he was boasting about his largesse in handing over information which is expected to be done anyway, and at a time of such acute awareness on the issue in the UK, it would be an ideal time to state his knowledge on the matter. But no!
The fact remains that all high commissions in London were practically clueless about the real negative repercussions on their citizens who had migrated decades ago. In fact, even relatives had lost touch and many in the islands had never seen, much less met their distant aunts, uncles, and cousins – even brothers and sisters. This sad reality is because none of the Windrush generation registered on leaving their countries of birth, and neither did they register on arrival in good ole England.
And why should they have gone through those rigours anyway, weren’t they all British citizens? At least their passports gave them that right, right?
Since all this brouhaha the Saint Lucia High Commission in London has reached out to St. Lucian citizens who may require assistance in rectifying their immigration status. In a message via Whatsapp and other social media which went out this week, High Commissioner Mayers said,
“I am calling on all St Lucians who may have family members or friends who fall into the Windrush category to send me their names and contact information so that we can make representation on their behalf.
Thanks and best regards.
This message came in the wake of Prime Minister Theresa May’s meeting with her Caribbean counterparts who made concerted arguments against the policy. Outside No.10 Downing Street the prime ministers spoke of their meeting and commitments from the British prime and foreign ministers.
It is clear the leaders from the former West Indian colonies were able to achieve meaningful results from their united diplomacy. According to reports, the Windrush generation and their children are to all receive full UK citizenship after the scandal.
So with all the evidence presented, it is apparent that the SLP’s only intention was to score some cheap political points against Prime Minister Allen Chastanet without an iota of evidence to support their claim. In fact, Allen Chastanet came away from this British scandal with a load of ‘street cred’ and positive visibility because of his significant role in the negotiations.