The main story for me this week was the debacle from the Windrush scandal and how damaging it is the reputations of Theresa May and Amber Rudd, both of whom may still be in trouble in the coming weeks…
I struggled to see how the antisemitism scandal in Labour that has captured many headline in recent weeks was the responsibility of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Leadership. This is not to say there isn’t a problem, simply that while the effect was evident to most people, it wasn’t as obvious what the cause was.
The Corbyn critics, in my view, clutched at numerous straws that mostly revolved around Facebook groups etc that Corbyn was a “member” of that contained anti-Semitic content or material.
Contrast that with the Windrush scandal that erupted over the last week. The Home Office, initially under Theresa May and now under Amber Rudd, directed policies that included the destruction of landing papers for British citizens and their children.
David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham, gave a powerful speech early in the week where he did not hold back in his criticism of Theresa May, Amber Rudd and the overall approach of the Conservative Party to immigration and home affairs;
“It is her (Amber Rudd) department that has deported them. She should know the number. Can she tell the House how many have been detained as prisoners in their own country?”…“Can she tell the House how many have been denied health under the National Health Service? How many have denied pensions? How many have lost their jobs?”… “Let us call it how it is. If you lay down with dogs you get fleas. That is what has happened with this far-right rhetoric in this country. Can she apologise properly?”
Unfortunately, there has been very little clarity or positive outcomes to come out of this so far. Theresa May did manage to regain her footing slightly at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, when she got the better of Jeremy Corbyn, mostly using an ambiguous untruth concerning when the decision to destroy the landing papers took place.
I think there will be further fallout from this. It’s a scandal that has angered people across the political spectrum as there is no other way of assessing it other than a gross injustice against a large number of ordinary British citizens, simply because they weren’t born in the United Kingdom.
Given everything Theresa May has endured so far and come out the other side of, I don’t think this will bring her or the Government down. I do not hold the same confidence in Amber Rudd’s job security. If the public uproar and press coverage continues next week, we may well be analyzing the impacts of her dismissal as Home Secretary…
I wrote my latest thoughts and predictions on the 8th Amendment Referendum on Friday here and won’t revisit it now.
The other major story in Ireland this week involved the Minister for Communications Denis Naughten. The Irish Times revealed on Wednesday that he “gave advance warning to a public affairs consultant acting for Independent News and Media about the prospects for a takeover bid that INM was pursuing.”
This has a horrible whiff of cronyism to it that verges on outright corruption. The fact that he hasn’t been dismissed has been attributed to the fear of disrupting the 8th Amendment Referendum. In the words of Mary Lou MacDonald;
"That means that in our calculations as people who are responsible and sensible, we take that into consideration. Denis Naughten is not off the hook. There always comes a day of reckoning,".
Personally, I don’t believe Fianna Fail have the appetite or confidence to threaten the Confidence and Supply agreement over Denis Naughten like they did with Frances Fitzgerald late last year.
The large majority of polls in 2018 have given Fine Gael strong leads over Fianna Fail and this would not be easily changed in an election campaign. For that reason, as well as the referendum, he looks quite likely to survive another cronyism story involving the current Irish government.