Chuka Umunna: Labour’s big hitter backs Windrush Day


Chuka Umunna has spoken of his support for a Windrush Day to honour the Caribbean pioneers who gave birth to multicultural Britain. Labour’s business secretary has joined a growing cross-party campaign, backed by a host of prominent figures, to make 22nd June an annual celebration to recognise the arrival at Tilbury Docks of the SS Empire Windrush in 1948.

Over 4,000 people have signed an online petition since Saturday when a series of events were held to mark the 65th anniversary. You can sign the petition here

Umunna, Labour MP for Streatham, told OBV:

“The arrival of the Empire Windrush from Jamaica was an iconic moment in Britain’s history and a key milestone in the development of the rich and diverse multicultural country we live in today.

“Celebrating this landmark event by holding a Windrush Day every year on June 22nd would be a just and worthwhile commemoration not only of the Windrush’s arrival but also of the positive contribution that the long history of immigration and integration has made to the UK.

“I look forward to Windrush Day being a time each year when people from all over our society can come together to celebrate the integration of our diverse cultures, ethnicities, languages and religions and to recognise the achievements of multicultural Britain.”

Other MPs backing the call for an annual Windrush Day include Lib Dem Sarah Teather, Conservatives Paul Uppal and Gavin Barwell and Labour’s Diane Abbott, David Lammy, Sadiq Khan and Tessa Jowell.

Public figures who signed an open letter to The Times newspaper (£ paywall) include Doreen Lawrence, children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman, playwright Kwame Kwei Armah, dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson and OBV’s director Simon Woolley.

The campaign, led by the organisation British Future, Hackney Labour councillor Patrick Vernon and Sutton Lib Dem councillor Lester Holloway, are keen to see an annual event so that the contribution of the first generation of Caribbean immigrants are not forgotten.

On the 65th anniversary of Windrush this week prime minister David Cameron said “I pay tribute to the Windrush generation and praise their fortitude and determination in overcoming those difficult challenges.

Younger generations are rightly very proud of those early pioneers, and while some social issues still need to be tackled, I strongly believe that our country today is an overwhelmingly fair and tolerant one. And this is in part down to the people from the Caribbean and around the world who settled here.”

Yesterday OBV reported on the campaign. Writing in The Voice Patrick Vernon said that the Windrush was “arguably the most powerful and iconic symbol of migration and the rise of modern day multicultural Britain to date. The Windrush is not simply about the 492 Caribbean men and women that arrived in Britain on that ship but everyone from the Empire and the Commonwealth who were British subjects and saw Britain as the mother country.”

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By Lester Holloway