Analysis Guest article

‘I thought I was British’: how the Tories’ citizenship laws target Jews

JVL member Mike Cushman writes of the racism inherent both in Thatcher’s original Nationality Act and the Tories’ planned changes – and challenges Labour leader Keir Starmer to actually oppose

Jews were expelled from England in the 13th century (image: Wikimedia Commons)

I thought I was British… but then I read section 40 of the 1981 British Nationality Act:

The Secretary of State may by order deprive a person of a citizenship status if the Secretary of State is satisfied that deprivation is conducive to the public good

but not, with due regard for international Law, if that renders a person stateless – Theresa May was wrong, you cannot be ‘a citizen of nowhere’.

However, there was a get-out, you could lose your British citizenship if “the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds for believing that the person is able, under the law of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom, to become a national of such a country or territory”.

This makes everyone who is fortunate enough to have a Jewish Mother, who in turn had a Jewish Mother, with chicken soup and warm hand-knitted pullovers going back through the generations, only a provisional British citizen. Ever since July 1950 every Jew has the right to ‘make Aliyah’, to ‘return’ to Israel and take up Israeli citizenship.  This right belongs to every Jew without condition: Zionist or anti-Zionist; secular or observant; Keir Starmers’s wife or Tony Greenstein.

For those of us able to make the connection, this became obvious when Shamima Begum was deemed to be eligible for Bangladeshi citizenship on far more flimsy grounds.

The current Nationality and Borders Bill does not change this underlying reality but it intensifies the risk: now the Secretary of State does not even need to tell you that you are British no more. Under clause 9 of the Bill notice of deprivation of citizenship need not be given,

if it appears to the Secretary of State that—
(c) notice under that subsection should not be given—

(i) in the interests of national security,
(ii) in the interests of the relationship between the United Kingdom and another country, or
(iii) otherwise in the public interest.

My right to live in Britain is conditional on the goodwill and sound judgement of the Home Secretary, a post that in recent years has been held by figures from Michael Howard to Priti Patel by way of David Blunkett and Charles Clark.

These less than stalwart defenders of the liberties of disruptive citizens have been advised by the civil servants who brought us the Windrush scandal and detention centres outsourced to G4S and Serco, while ignoring the well-documented malign regimes inflicted by their favoured contractors.

Now my rights to even be informed of a life-changing decision depend upon their calculation of what is in “the public interest”. If I ever found out about it before I found myself at Ben Gurion airport, I might challenge the decision through Judicial Review; but only if I manage to do to that before the Government implements its plan to reduce that right to something less than nugatory.

If there is an existential threat to British Jews it does not flow from Jeremy Corbyn’s doomed promotion of Palestinian rights. It is embedded in British Law, ready to hand for any future Government eager to repeat Edward the First’s expulsion of the Jews from England – maybe the devolved nations will resile from that barbarity.

We all have a responsibility to demand a fundamental change to Thatcher’s narrowing of citizenship rights – Jews more than anyone else because of the threat to our status. There are, indeed, people we would rather not have as part of our community because of the heinous acts they have committed; the Government would extend that to future acts they are merely anticipated to commit. Inconveniently, in many cases their behaviour is the result of their upbringing in Britain and is our responsibility and cannot be outsourced to some other country they have a putative connection with.

Is it too much to expect that Keir Starmer will campaign on this? If he does not want to do it to repair his tattered reputation as a human rights lawyer then he might at least take it up to protect his own wife and children. Even if this carries the regrettable, for him, corollary of enhancing the rights of Jewish Voice for Labour members.

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  1. Thatcher’s hypocrisy was the stuff of legend. After victory in the Falklands Conflict in 1982, in a carefully timed electioneering move, she passed an amendment to the British Nationality Act 1981, granting the Falkland Islanders full British citizenship.

    This amendment was made a month before her election landslide victory. Here’s a quote from it…

    “ The second addition is set out in s.1(1) of the British Nationality (Falkland Islands) Act 1983 passed on 28 March 1983. This provides that a person who on 1 January 1983 became a British Dependent Territories citizen under s.23 of the British Nationality Act 1981 also became on that date a British citizen…”

    This specific legislation gave the Falkland Islanders their new status just two short years after her pre-war, uncompromising refusal to grant it had been cemented in, supposedly ‘for good’. It arrived two months before the June 1983 election. This screeching U-turn would never have occurred without the conflict, the 907 deaths and the increasingly likely return of a UK Conservative government.

  2. In 1967, the Marine Offences Act made it a criminal offence to aid Pirate Radio Stations broadcasting outside British Territorial Waters. Offenders could be rendered stateless & have their passport cancelled, no longer being British, courtesy of Harold Wilson.

    1. Wilson did quite a bit that would not be at odds with The Conservative TORIES, goes to show The Law is an Arse, what makes things like this so frightening is the realisation of just how primitive humans are, whatever we thought of as carved in stone is farted onto limestone.
      This kind of act throws us back to the 1400s, the thought peasants scrapping in the dust over a half rotten potato on a field doesn’t seem so alien any more!
      9/10 poorest places in North Europe and 1 THE number 1/10 (that was 2018 frightened to see 2022)
      And we had TWO Once in a Lifetime Opportunities 2017 and 2019 to end 43 Years of TORY HELL apparently the people went MSM, MSSM stupid!
      Now our NON CHOICE is Conservative Party Neoliberal TORY SCUM or Neo-Labour Party Neoliberal TORY SCUM! and about 10/15 Democratic Socialists clinging on for Justice, Equality, for The PEOPLE in The HoC, after them, we have sweet Fuck All Left NO VOICE FOR THE PEOPLE IN PARLIAMENT!

      1. And continuing from my post about some islands that were invaded in 1982 and briefly stolen, Wilson’s UK forces invaded the Chagos Islands in 1965 and got rid of the Mauritian population who’d lived there for centuries, making way for a strategic US / UK military base that you could land bombers on, called Diego Garcia.

        The Falklands got sorted out super-quick, but these islands remain stolen to this day. No subsequent government – Tory or pretend “Labour” – has ever had the guts to put the situation right, and 57 years later, the Chagos Islanders are still waiting to be repatriated.

      2. We need Truth Education Promise to our Future generations where every letter of every historic event is researched and rewritten, but only to replace all the Lies with the Proven and Evidenced FACTS and all the “warts and all’s” of the likes of Wilson, Churchill, Gandhi, etc, etc, etc, etc, gets added, dug up from under years of hush, hush! The warped perspective of this Fluffed Up Elites Written History warps children’s minds, how many of us fought them on the beaches, blah, blah, blah etc, totally taken by one of the worlds worst genocidal killers.

      3. Wirral, good point on the Chagos Scandal.
        Jeremy Corbyn did speak up for them and as PM would have brought them justice!

  3. I just have to say that I am sorry about this Headline!
    This Law Affects EVERYONE not just Jews! We really need to snap out of this Tribalism Mindset of This Race, That Race, This Religion, That Religion, etc, etc, etc! If we do not, UNITE NOW under The ONE AND ONLY LABEL of The PEOPLE we are FUCKED! We are SO TOTALLY FUCKED!

    1. I am sure Mike is not being tribal (mentions of Shamima Begum, Windrush and his other writings would tell us that). He has thought of an implication of the bill that has been overlooked, and used it to point out a possible future misuse danger as well as the absurdity of the unjust Israeli Law of ‘Return’ which he opposes. The more arguments against this legislation the better, and the more communities who come to oppose it also. People protest and oppose when they see something that affects them, or their family or their community. Unity is based on a multitude of such smaller interests coming together. It’s too much to hope that Starmer or many in the Jewish community will accept Mike’s arguments but that’s not a reason for Mike not to share his interesting and well-presented thoughts.

  4. I have a IRISH passport and a passport that says “I am a subject of her majesty” they can stuff it and I have no intention of renewing a passport that makes me a target like the US one….A citizen of the Republic of Ireland suits me.My son daugter and carol my wife are all entitled to a Israeli passport,needless to say they are not applying for one and will continue with the UK subject nonsense..?

  5. Well said Mike Cushman of the JVL.

    Section 40 of the 1981 British Nationality Act was never used in this oppressive manner until the inside job we refer to as ‘9/11’ was undertaken and the “War on Terror” gave Blair ‘n’ Brown’s ne*labour an excuse to mount its vile 13,000 acts of parliament that mostly launched an anti-social (well, anti-working class) regulatory framework that helped capitalsim more than it helped people – and also fashioned neoliberalism’s “hostile environment” against British people and their human and democratic rights.

    Reprobates !! (Starmer would be worse – please do your bit to make sure he NEVER becomes PM)

  6. This racist addition to the “Nationality act” makes me see red!

    Shamima Begum is just one example. The Guardian had an article
    about the ease of chucking out anyone of South Asian heritage (or
    any heritage come to that).

    THec example they gave is of a young UK guy who complained that
    the Security Services were targeting him trying to make him a spy
    for the this country.

    He refused and subsequently visited his grand parent in South Asia
    and was then contacted by the FO and told he must check in with
    the nearest Embassy. The nearest was in another SA state – where
    he then found himself under arrest by the US – as a spy. The UK
    then disowned him – uinfortuntaly the guys parents had got him
    citizenship of the country where they were born. This was for
    heritage reasons ..

    The lack of care by the UK for its own citizens extends to anyone
    who is unfortunate enough to get into “trouble” in another part of
    the world and includes the unfortunate mother plus numerous other
    UK citizens held hostage*** by Iran.

    *** The hostage taking is a way of getting back money which
    we legally owe them – not an excuse – just an explanation.

    1. NoVac should have applied for US citizenship…..problems would disappear.

  7. The Israeli Law of Return applies to more people considered by the Zionist state than Jews by “inheritance” through the female line, as Mike Cushman suggests. it includes the children and grandchildren of male Jews as well as the spouses of all of them:

    “Since 1970, the right to immigrate under this law has been extended to include the child and the grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of the grandchild of a Jew.” This is irrespective of the parent’s or grandparent’s sex.

    The Law also allows converts to gain Israeli nationality – and presumably their children and grandchildren and all spouses too.

    So a lot more people, many of of whom would not identify as Jewish at all, could be chucked out under the new nationality act.

    I could add that those of us who are entitled to apply for German citizenship as a result of having one of our parents’ of grandparents’ German citizenship revoked by the Nazi regime (a lot of children and grandchildren etc. of German Jews, but also of German communists, socialists, Jehovah’s witnesses, Quakers and no doubt others) are under threat from this act. This is enshrined in Article 116 (2) of the Basic Law (Section 15 of the German Nationality Act).

    The same threat applies to a lot of people born in Ireland of UK parents (e.g. practically all residents of the six countries), people born in the UK who have one Irish parent etc. The looser a non-UK country’s citizenship law, the more under threat a person with some mixed heritage is. As the case of Shamima Begum shows, any home secretary is likely to give that law the loosest interpretation possible.

    1. CRAZY! Talmudic courts since before Jesus’ time have determined that Jewishness is decided by maternity, not paternity. The imperialist zionists are (like the “Covid Narrative”) taking well-established precedents and turning them on their head to suit an unsound political agenda!

  8. 70% of UK Jews vote Tory. Many of them played their role in traducing Corbyn. Of course, this is not because they are Jews, but because they subscribe to a distorted ideology. Plenty of Jews supported Corbyn and faced down the B o D, the CST and others who spread the false claims of “institutional anti-Semitism”. But Jews are foolish to align themselves with a Tory Party which has a long history of racism and prejudice. You have to have a very short political memory not to recall those backbench Tories who celebrated apartheid with South African wine. The really sinister implication of Patel’s proposal is its potential use against her political enemies. The “public interest” could easily be invoked against Jews who criticise Israel or stand up for Palestinian rights, as with other nationalities, ethnic identities or religions. She and her successors can pick and choose. The politically awkward can be winnowed. If we had a radical party in the wings we could feel reassured but with Starmer as the likely alternative, the prospects for justice look grim. Unless a co-ordinated campaign which brings Muslims, Jews , West Indians, Chinese, anyone under possible threat together can bring enough trouble to make them change their mind. But to change your mind, you have to have one.

    1. 70% of Jews who voted not 70% of those eligible to vote
      Would be interesting to establish what % of the Jewish Community do not condone the actions of Israel

      1. Despite what the BoD, CAA, JLM, LFI, etc, etc, etc say, I once saw a 99% claim, the thing that always struck me most was Protest Numbers. Since 2015 I guess the single foremost symbol for Palestine Support would be Jeremy Corbyn especially since 2015 and would have brought out the Masses to Protest against him and the “Leftists”, but did they ever?
        They made a lot of Internationally supported noise on MSSM, but when it came to protests, I doubt I’ve seen any of more then 200/300 people. I reckon the most of it was Luntzspeak beefing it all up and don’t forget any Zionist related events were always boosted by The EDL Zionist Division, etc, etc. Looking at purely Protest Numbers at any Pro Palestine Protest/Counter Protests, I’d figure the numbers are far less than the noise or what Zionists say. The rest is ALL PURE Luntzspeak, as much as I detest saying it we can ALL take a leaf from that book. If we had a Luntzspeak version based on Corbynism, we’d probably have PM JC today, the Power of one Propaganda Message shared by even a small group on script, and repeatedly, is as we all saw extremely Powerful!
        I would rather educate people to counter such Propaganda, but sadly I think it is easier to teach it than teach to counter it. It is a very dangerous toy though it slips millions into a dystopian warped alternate reality and I can so clearly see that exact same mightier than thou delusion, just as South Africans used to have and sadly many still do, Macho Ego afore Peace!

  9. The quotes provided from the legislation by Mike certainly impact in the way he describes.

    However, it seems reasonable to argue that the vague (who defines ‘public interest’ and how?) and generic wording of the legislation gives carte blanche for a Westminster Establishment taking on Henry VIII powers for itself and dumping any pretence at objective evidence based due process (and not just the LP usual suspects from the Starmer Junta – see some past statements from RLB & Dawn Butler for example) to use those provisions against anyone they want. Even those considered ‘native’ British/English/Scottish/Welsh.

    The law operates on precedent. In the past few days we have witnessed a case from another part of what is described as the ‘Anglosphere’ – Australia – which has been described by members of the legal profession there as:

    “the case could, hypothetically, set a precedent for a musician to be blocked if they were well known for opposing the US-Australia alliance, on the basis the person might diminish public support for a pillar of Australian foreign policy and national security.””

    Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman Greg Barns

    This was a case of a tennis player initially given official sanction to enter the Country; subsequently denied and winning a court appeal only for a Government Minister to remove him from the Country on the grounds of public interest – not health risk – for views he expressed over 18 months ago.

    On that basis two observations occur:

    Firstly, any opposing view of any official narrative such as, off the top of one’s head:

    – Support for Palestinian’s – which is too often officially portrayed as anti-Semitic
    – Who qualifies or does not qualify as a Woman
    – anti-war sentiments
    – class rather than identify and intersectionalist views
    – anti-capitalist – also increasingly portrayed as anti-Semitic
    – anything else deemed by the gatekeepers as being ‘on the wrong side of history’

    could fall foul of such a precedent now it has been set.

    Secondly, if the final arbiter is a Minister of the Establishment’s definition of ‘the public interest’ there does not seem to be any guarantee, nor argument, to prevent anyone in the Country deemed to be ‘undesireable’ (or undeserving) by Establishment officialdom from being removed from the Country and dumped anywhere else in the world at such wide discretion as exists under this legislation.

    Even if they can trace their ancestry back to the time of Alfred the Great.

  10. Read a cracking book a while back by Robert Winder, ‘Bloody Foreigners – A Study of Immigration into Britain’ which highlights the contributions made by such citizens and the cruel treatment they at particular times received.
    But it skewers racists who are perhaps ignorant concerning their own history?
    Highly recommended.
    And there is sadly a long history of anti-immigrant legislation such as the 1919 Aliens Act which some suggest was aimed primarily at keeping Jewish people out?
    Often bourgeois politicians react to a moral panic, often led by the Right Wing media and their owners (?)) whilst left wing democratic socialists would try to unite diverse working people; we all have to sell our Labour to live and have so much in common.
    Racists like the Far Right try to divide diverse working people and thus are the useful idiots of the rich and powerful.
    And the Tories to survive think they have to out UKIP, UKIP.
    Sinister Bill, Sinister Tory Govt, Lumpen Home Sec?
    Diverse Working People of the World Unite!

  11. I watched a 2013 film last night, starring Russell Crowe & Kevin Costner called ‘Man of Steel’ & I thought that Hollywood is taking the ‘P’ out of Palestinians. The story of a super race coming to colonise the planet & using superior technology to ‘wipe out’ the inhabitants of earth. Who are the bad guys?

  12. I voted Brexit for similar reasons to Chris Williamson & if you really want to know about the European Union economic policies take a look at what they did to Greece, however there was also the question of immigration & I am torn apart by this contradiction in my personal beliefs. John Lennon sang ‘imagine there’s no countries……imagine no possessions’ & I think I have contradictions. I sang the song & lived the dream believing there should be open borders & absolute freedom of movement for people…….a brotherhood of humanity, but what would happen to our contribution based social systems?
    When I was a lecturer I worked with immigrant groups in Blackburn & Toxteth, & campaigned on behalf of numerous students & their families who were threatened with deportation, while my dad (from St.Pauls, Bristol) struggled to find work, with few skills & qualifications, he drove taxis until he was 70. Is the gig economy a product of the mass immigration engineered by Thatcher & Blair? If the 1st law of economics is supply & demand that must also apply to labour. Why are terms & conditions of employment so poor, with zero hours contracts & a cash in hand economy? The casualisation of labour bring poverty as wages have remained stagnant for generations, both in USA & GB as governments use immigration & service industries to drive down the cost of labour. Manufacturing industries have been destroyed & globalisatiion ensures cheap labour elsewhere. A cheap solution that does not affect the careers & salaries of the bourgeoisie, just the poor working class. Why was mass immigration so attractive an economic proposition to Blair, Thatcher or even Enoch Powell & still is to those bourgeois liberals who like to signal their virtue without cost or payment.

  13. A Jewish Chronicle contributor has come out against this act – for reasons
    similar to Mike Cushman. Its title:

    “Are your comfortable letting the Government shred your citizenship?”

    A google will get you there.

  14. “My right to live in Britain is conditional on the goodwill and sound judgement of the Home Secretary, a post that in recent years has been held by figures from Michael Howard to Priti Patel by way of David Blunkett and Charles Clark.” – JVL Member, Mike Cushman.

    This is what the anti-democratic right (as in HMG and the LabourRight in Labour) NEED to do – make our democratic,constitional rights provisional on something (i.e. not a ‘right’).

    Not just Jews, Mike, most citizens are caught by this fascistic authoritarian trap.

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