Hope for the Chagossians under a new government
The election is out of the way, but the dust has not settled. The parties are still negotiating to see what sort of government will be formed, with Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg approaching the Conservatives first, but (so far) keeping his options open to do a deal with Labour instead if he can’t come to an agreement with the Tories.
Generally speaking there’s reason for the Chagos islanders to be hopeful. Senior Conservative and Lib Dem figures have spoken out to say they would back the islanders’ right to return if they were in power.
Labour, on the other hand, has insisted on continuing to fight the costly legal battle against this vulnerable group of people, with a case pending at the European Court of Human Rights, after legal avenues in the UK were exhausted.
But even if Labour are able to stay in government with the help of the Lib Dems, they will be under pressure to address the Chagos issue.
In the constituency of Crawley, where the bulk of the UK’s Chagossians live, there is reason to be hopeful too. While long-standing supporter Laura Moffat has stepped down, the new Conservative MP Henry Smith has pledged to join the All Party Parliamentary Group on Chagos (of which Moffat, a Labour MP, was also a member) and called the eviction of the islanders an “appalling episode in British history”. He said the islanders were being denied their human rights.
Why not write to your new MP and urge them to put their support behind the Chagos islanders? If Britain’s new government wants to make a break with the past and earn itself a reputation for fairness and integrity, what better way to start than to finally right this terrible wrong?