THE UK Government has been accused of failing to learn from the “disgraceful” Windrush scandal over its much-criticised plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The warning comes as a national monument is today unveiled to pay tribute to the Windrush generation.

The Tory government has provided £1 million of funding for the statue at Waterloo Station in London, which will be launched to mark Windrush Day.

But with ministers intent on pressing on with plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, campaigners say nothing has been learned from the Windrush scandal, which saw thousands of Commonwealth citizens wrongly classified as illegal immigrants by the Home Office.

READ MORE: Home Office slammed for 'shameful' handling of Windrush crisis

Gary Christie, head of policy and communications at the Scottish Refugee Council, said: “The more we learn about this abhorrent plan, the clearer it becomes that this UK government has learned no lessons from horrendous failures of the past.

“This is a policy based on a fundamental lie. Seeking asylum is not a crime and does not deserve punishment.

“If the UK Government was truly interested in making sure people did not risk their lives on perilous journeys to safety, it would work to put truly safe routes to sanctuary in place.”

He added: “A protection system fit for today’s unstable world and an uncertain future would include an asylum system which assesses claims in the country in which they are made, a more robust family reunion scheme and a commitment to resettling 10,000 people from across the world each year.”

The UK Government has defended its Rwanda policy as being required to reduce the number of migrant boats crossing the Channel.

The National: Demonstrators protesting in George Square, Glasgow against the government plans to send migrants to RwandaDemonstrators protesting in George Square, Glasgow against the government plans to send migrants to Rwanda

But SNP shadow secretary for justice and immigration Anne McLaughlin, said: "The Windrush scandal was one of the most disgraceful episodes in modern history.

“However, instead of learning from it, the Tories seem determined to double down on cruel Home Office immigration policies which are systemically racist.

"The Tories’ cruel and callous immigration system has been years in the making, culminating in the abhorrent Rwanda policy.

"None of these have, or ever will be, in Scotland's name. With independence, we can create our own immigration system which has fairness and integrity at its heart."

The Windrush generation arrived in the UK from Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1973, many taking up roles in key sectors such as the health service.

READ MORE: UK Government urged to repay Windrush victims for 'outrageous treatment'

All who arrived were automatically British citizens – but in 2017 it emerged that hundreds had been wrongly detained, deported and denied legal rights.

An independent inquiry in 2020 chaired by Wendy Williams made 30 recommendations for the Home Office and concluded the department had demonstrated “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race”.

But a follow-up inspection published in March this year found the Home Office had failed in its pledge to transform culture and warned there was the risk of another Windrush-style scandal. 

Earlier this year a leaked government report also revealed the stark conclusion that the origins of the “deep-rooted racism” of the Windrush scandal had arisen from the fact “during the period 1950-1981, every single piece of immigration or citizenship legislation was designed at least in part to reduce the number of people with black or brown skin who were permitted to live and work in the UK”.

A spokesman for the PCS union, which attempted a legal challenge against the UK Government’s Rwanda plans, said it had “singularly failed to learn the lessons of the Windrush scandal”.

He said: “PCS is determined to work for a more humane environment on asylum and immigration.

“This would give our members the time, space and resources that they need to carry out their jobs properly and would improve the experience of refugees.

“All too often we are told ‘lessons must be learned’, but they seldom are. The same mistakes are being repeated.”

READ MORE: European Court of Human Rights: how it grounded the Rwanda flight

Meanwhile research commissioned for the Windrush 75 network and think-tank British Future to mark Windrush Day found that 64% of the public think children should be taught about Windrush to help understand Britain’s history of empire and its diverse society.

Just 9% of people disagreed, according to the survey of just over 2000 British adults.

Almost half - 49% - of those surveyed said they are familiar with the story of the Windrush, while 46% said they would like to know more about it.

Separate polling released on Windrush Day found that 70% of British adults from an ethnic minority background think racist beliefs are widely held in society.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of ethnic minority respondents said they had experienced discrimination, down from 73% in 2020. And 42% said they had experienced abuse, down from 52% the previous year.