Caroline Nokes leaves Downing Street. Credit: Getty
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The problem with Generation Windrush goes further than any one minister

The problem here isn’t incompetence, it’s malice.

Caroline Nokes, the immigration minister, is facing calls to resign after revealing that some members of “Generation Windrush” – people who came to the United Kingdom as children in the 1950s and 1960s, and were granted indefinite leave to remain in 1971 but have no way of passing the Home Office’s new and more stringent tests – have already been deported.

Separately, the government is expected to announce – or rather, to re-announce as the initial announcement was made during recess – a new unit designed to prevent anyone from Generation Windrush falling foul of the government’s “hostile environment” policy.

The purpose of the hostile environment policy is to make life in the United Kingdom so cumbersome for immigrants that eventually, large numbers of them simply give up the ghost and voluntarily leave the United Kingdom. What that meant was compelling vast swathes of the state and the private sector – from the banks to the NHS – to seek proof that their employees and service users were legally here.

The reason why Generation Windrush has been caught up in growing numbers is that that generation of migrants are coming to the end of their working lives, and are, for one reason or another, coming into contact with the state in significant numbers. They are falling sick, retiring or seeking to move to accommodation that meets their needs as they become more frail. Because they were never told – nor could they have reasonably expected – that they would have to account for the past half-century of their working lives, they are unable to meet Home Office requirements.

There are a couple of important points to note here: the first is it is that what is not happening is ministerial or civil service incompetence, of the kind that would fairly merit the sacking of Nokes or other ministers. What is instead happening is government policy working as intended – but working on a group of immigrants who command public and parliamentary support.

The second is that as far as the Conservative governments go, this is probably only the beginning of their hostile environment induced misery. It seems likely that the next age cohort of migrants – refugees fleeing Idi Amin – will likely fall foul of the  hostile environment as they, too, come into contact with the state as they age out of the workforce and seek medical attention in greater numbers. I see no reason why Britons of Ugandan Asian descent will be any less supported by the right-wing press than Generation Windrush have been.

And the third is that it is difficult to see what a workaround for Windrush immigrants means in practice: you either have a hostile environment for immigrants, or you don’t. (You can’t really have a rule where anyone black who looks old enough to have arrived here before 1971 is exempt – how would this be enforced? Or checked.)

What needs to change is the policy and direction of the government as a whole, not individual ministers, as opposed to a few ministers being held up as scapegoats and the future of British citizens coming into contact with the Home Office decided by how photogenic they are.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman and the PSA's Journalist of the Year. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

Arsène Wenger. Credit: Getty
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My biggest regret of the Wenger era? How we, the fans, treated him at the end

Arsenal’s greatest coach deserved better treatment from the Club’s supporters. 

I have no coherent memories of Arsenal before Arsène Wenger, who will leave the Club at the end of the season. I am aware of the Club having a new manager, but my continuous memories of my team are of Wenger at the helm.

They were good years to remember: three league titles, seven FA Cups, the most of any single manager in English football. He leaves the Club as the most successful manager in its history.

I think one of the reasons why in recent years he has taken a pasting from Arsenal fans is that the world before him now seems unimaginable, and not just for those of us who can't really remember it. As he himself once said, it is hard to go back to sausages when you are used to caviar, and while the last few years cannot be seen as below par as far as the great sweep of Arsenal’s history goes, they were below par by the standards he himself had set. Not quite sausages, but not caviar either.

There was the period of financial restraint from 2005 onwards, in which the struggle to repay the cost of a new stadium meant missing out on top player. A team that combined promising young talent with the simply bang-average went nine years without a trophy. Those years had plenty of excitement: a 2-1 victory over Manchester United with late, late goals from Robin van Persie and Thierry Henry, a delicious 5-2 thumping of Tottenham Hotspur, and races for the Champions League that went to the last day. It was a time that seemed to hold the promise a second great age of Wenger once the debt was cleared. But instead of a return to the league triumphs of the past, Wenger’s second spree of trophy-winning was confined to the FA Cup. The club went from always being challenging for the league, to always finishing in the Champions League places, to struggling to finish in the top six. Again, nothing to be sniffed at, but short of his earlier triumphs.

If, as feels likely, Arsenal’s dire away form means the hunt for a Uefa Cup victory ends at Atletico Madrid, many will feel that Wenger missed a trick in not stepping down after his FA Cup triumph over Chelsea last year, in one of the most thrilling FA Cup Finals in years. (I particularly enjoyed this one as I watched it with my best man, a Chelsea fan.) 

No one could claim that this season was a good one, but the saddest thing for me was not the turgid performances away from home nor the limp exit from the FA Cup, nor even finishing below Tottenham again. It was hearing Arsenal fans, in the world-class stadium that Wenger built for us, booing and criticising him.

And I think, that, when we look back on Wenger’s transformation both of Arsenal and of English football in general, more than whether he should have called it a day a little earlier, we will wonder how Arsenal fans could have forgotten the achievements of a man who did so much for us.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman and the PSA's Journalist of the Year. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.