TheLike many civil servants, I joined because of principles. We work here because we serve the public, vital services are working well and we want to help people. I work with loyal, qualified and affectionate people. We understand that we are not politicians. We just want to go ahead and make things work for the public.
But at the Home Office, it is inevitably clear that the things we are being asked to do now – from borders to maintaining security to immigration enforcement – are causing real harm to a lot of people. As the report on the historical roots of the Windrush scandal has shown, the Home Office has a long and ugly history of structural racism, with decades of British immigration policy designed to reduce the number of blacks and ethnic minorities in that country.
No wonder, then, that Rwanda’s barbaric relocation scheme – to forcibly transport people who have fled shock and horror to another continent – was presented to us by senior officials as “humanitarian”. The ridiculously ridiculous notion that it has to do with banning people smugglers is being repeated in earnest.
If the Windrush scandal did not sufficiently clarify the racial priorities in our work, the Russian invasion of Ukraine made the point. Of course, help should be given to the innocent who have been bombed from their homes and a place to rebuild their lives if they so choose. But this is not the only war taking place. The difference in response when it comes to white faces couldn’t be greater. Entirely new visa pathways have been created with more “generous” terms, for example B – no ban on work or access to vital public funds.
Ukraine, like Covid, has provided some glimpses of how the government can pull itself together to care for people and support lives – but only sometimes. Why has there not been this kind of response to people in desperate situations in Yemen, Ethiopia, Sudan, Palestine and Afghanistan? Not to mention the climate crisis.
Time and time again we have seen official leadership so incapable of showing basic humanity that those of us in the ordinary ranks look at each other and shake our heads. Could this really happen? is this us
So we say: Enough.
We are tired of accepting that things have to be this way. We are tired of taking every new step we have to tacitly take in an increasingly divided world. Our sweet dream was sold from an organization that learned from Windrush – “One Home Office” is the name of the department’s transformation program. But if we really want to become a ‘one-home ministry’, we have to do our part.
Welcome to the Home Office, a growing network of Home Office officials who take our principles seriously. Such as impartiality, fairness, respect for the rule of law for all, and support for the rights enjoyed by every person.
We find ways to implement it ourselves. What we do and what we resist. when pronunciation. Hearing voices that are often not believed or ignored. By finding all sorts of cracks in the stifling and inhumane bureaucratic walls and opening them up to make way for something better to be built. We talk to colleagues and share our support, and act as openly or as subtly as we think – through attachments Remember our colleagues real values, to the “Refugees Welcome” stickers we put up in our buildings. We try to find a way to live and work according to our principles.
Perhaps somehow this hostile environment that haunts us all can be disarmed and disposed of. And we invite our colleagues: What topics do you want to solve?