Considering the Windrush scandal; or rather garbage as I call it, I feel that too much is being played out for no real cause whatsoever. As I and my wife were living overseas, our three kids were all born in South Africa. But I, as a responsible parent, knew that I had to ensure their precious birthright; and so I went to the British Consulate in Cape Town within a fortnight of each birth: and by registering their births, I was also claiming their British-registered Birth Certificates; and thus allowing each of my kids to claim a British Passport with the minimum of fuss. They were of course too young to realise the impact of my actions, all three being infants at the time, but I believe I had to act, because with inaction comes multiple problems later in life.
I was in conversation with a receptionist/clerk at the Consulate, and she told me that I was not alone in my actions. Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban were all favourite targets for the Thirty-Pound RedNecks, as we were known. The red neck is self-explanatory, as apart from people such as I, who had travelled all over the world courtesy of the British Merchant Navy, hardly any were used to the strong sun; ipso ergo facto, RedNeck, or ‘Rooinek’ in Afrikaans. The thirty pound sterling was the cost, to a migrant couple or family, of the transport from Great Britain to South Africa by a Boeing 707, and accommodation in a hotel until we got sorted with a job, and our own flat; back in the balmy days of 1967-68.
The receptionist told me that I was just one small slice of the Consulate’s visitors, but most were there for the same reason I was; namely to register at the Consulate, and to acquire that most important document, a British birth certificate for the newly-born child. We stayed in South Africa for seventeen-eighteen years; but decided to leave, as the boycotts of Apartheid South Africa were beginning to slice in, the name of ‘dangerous society’ was ever more apparent, and, after due discussion with my wife and my family, we decided to sell our house, pack up everything, and return to England. The two younger kids, my second son and my daughter, both travelled on my own British passport, but my eldest son was turned sixteen, so I applied for a British passport, and one duly arrived in the post. But I had to gain clearance from the South African Ministry of the Interior, as my son, being born in Cape Town, of course had dual nationality.
Now the main South African Afrikaans-speaking population were the most friendly, accommodating and trustworthy folks around, I still have some good Afrikaaner friends; but transfer an Afrikaaner into Government service, and a whole new animal emerges; stolid, unbending, strictly by the book, and you were often reminded that they wrote the Book. I attended the Interior Ministry, and all the documentation needed, of which there was quite a pile. “Why’, I was asked, “why does your son not use his South African passport, he has one, why not use it, instead of the British one?” I stated that, as I was maybe travelling to an Arabic country, and (Apartheid) South African passports were ‘verboten’ in Islam, I preferred to get my son travelling with a British passport, so there would be no access problems. This furrow-browed lady scrabbled through all the documents, and finally pointed her finger at the one, terrible mistake, she had uncovered. “Agh; No, no, Meneer, (Sir), you have ticked the wrong box. You have stated that you would not object if the Ministry took away your son’s right to hold a South African Passport! Of course you would object! Let me alter it!” My eldest son, when completing the myriad details, had done the terrible deed, and I of course fought to keep a straight face as this stolid person altered the document according to the way that she thought it should be completed.
We sold the house, left our home and our friends, and made our way to Jan Smuts airport, and came back home. All our travel documentation was complete; when my younger son and my daughter applied for passports, the delay was about ten seconds longer than usual before completion, because of the presence of Consulate Birth Certificates.
So now we turn to the alleged ‘Windrush Scandal’, where the Home Office, acting strictly by the book, as they have to do, have contacted many fifty-, sixty-, and seventy-year old people who arrived as child migrants when the Empire Windrush and her sister ships transported many thousands of West Indians to England. They were being contacted because they have no documentation which gives them the right to stay, despite living, working and, of course, sometimes paying taxes for all those years. They have no documentation because their parents never bothered to fill in the forms, and pay a few quid, and help their kids become the holders of British passports.
So we now have “Motor-Mouth’ MP David Lammy getting hysterical in the House of Commons, because a few people have been warned that, because their parents did not formalise their stay, are now, in the eyes of the Law, not welcome in Britain. Home Secretary Amber Rudd has apologised for the treatment of these people, but I wonder why? Did the parents just state, ‘Agh, we’ll do it later, lets have a big party now’; or did they just not consider the future of their kids, when the Law states otherwise?
There is just one other small cloud which might get larger, darker, and more threatening.
Just wait until the British Border Force hears, for the first time but definitely not the last, the claim:-