The Home Office needs a complete overhaul.
Review after review, and a variety of off the record reports, illustrate a picture of an organisation unfit for purpose either systemically ignorant, or institutionally racist.
The Home Office has always been a cesspit of discriminatory attitudes; it was increasingly authoritarian under New Labour, but these last 10 years have brought it to an ugly head, and by all accounts Britain’s Home Office is inept, discriminatory, and not fit for purpose.
Yet another report is shelfed, a report by the EHRC showing the Home Office to have broken equality laws with its hostile environment policies, and that they have a legal duty to review their current policies to search for discrimination.
The Home Office is one of our worst departments. It is highly ineffective, even when it wanted to cut immigration it failed its targets and accomplished nothing but cruelty towards and harassment of British citizens.
It presided over Windrush (enough as a standalone to make my point), there are a variety of reports showing callous and racist attitudes from its staff, and it obsesses itself with minimal numbers of refugees and asylum seekers who Britain can and should help, while refusing to rethink its approach to basic human dignity.
The Home Office is not fit, and it needs wholesale reform, full stop. This clearly won’t happen under Priti Patel, an individual keen to win votes by bullying and demonising immigrants who simply want a better life for themselves, and pitting British worker against EU worker against Asian worker, in order to scapegoat and avoid the actual problems that face British workers.
What we could well see over the next few years, and are indeed likely to see so long as Patel reigns supreme, is a strengthening and tightening of these attitudes, and a continued worsening of the approach the Home Office takes.
Polling would indicate that while the public takes a progressive view on trade and economics, they have authoritarian views on immigration, on crime, and on most of the things the Home Office presides over. Patel’s approach won’t loose the Tories votes, it’ll help them.
The answer here isn’t to campaign on “we’ll reverse all these measures you agree with” it’s to (while obviously opposing those measures since they go against our values) make the case for a new way of doing things, and win the mandate to implement such an approach. It isn’t about being against something, it’s what we are FOR, we need to look at the feelings of a need for security, and a need for fairness, and translate that into progressive immigration and asylum policy.
The left needs to have a serious discussion now about post-Brexit immigration policy, and what a post-Brexit progressive approach within the Home Office would look like. Leaving the EU doesn’t have to mean cruel immigration or asylum policy, that’s just the choice those steering the wheel are making.
We need total reset of policy, a sweeping change of staff (a just transition, not fire at will), and above all we need people in government who don’t view black British citizens, asylum seekers, or immigrants from the EU as the enemy.