Sir Trevor McDonald has told The Voice of his disappointment at how members of the Windrush Generation have been treated.
The legendary broadcaster said he had followed the recent Windrush Scandal and felt that the way in which Caribbean migrants who had come to this country in the 1950s and 60s had been treated was “more than a shock to the system”.
In his new autobiography, An Improbable Life, McDonald writes about how the story of the Windrush Generation resonated with him on a personal level and how his life and career shared many similarities with them.
After a successful career with Radio Trinidad he came to London in 1969 after being offered a job with BBC World Service.
In 1973, he began his long association with Independent Television News (ITN), first as a general reporter, later as a sports correspondent and then as a household name as the presenter of News at Ten.
He told The Voice: “I write about the men and women who came on the Windrush in the book because I wanted to convey how much we were geared for life in England. It was the Mother Country, the centre of the metropolitan world. People had gone from the West Indies to fight for Britain in the Second World War and they felt they knew the country.”
He continues: “The historian CLR James makes this point very well. We were almost educated for a life outside the West Indies and that meant London because we were made to study Dickens, Shakespeare, Byron and so on. We were clothed in this Englishness of life.
“So my take on the Windrush Generation is that they came to this country with great, great expectations.
“They had been given an image of English life which was that this was a country of fairness, of humanity and decency and above all, it was a great parliamentary democracy.
“It was a way of life which was sold to other parts of the world that must be followed. So to have been treated as they were in the Windrush Scandal was more than a shock to the system.
“Many of us knew more about English history than we did about West Indian history. So to be dismissed in this way as they were in the Windrush Scandal, the repercussions of which are still going on, has been a great shock and a great scandal.”
McDonald added: “I question, in a very straightforward way, the use of the term hostile immigration policy. I couldn’t understand why that word was chosen.
“Every country has to have an immigration policy, no country can just open its borders. But what about terms such as robust, thorough, effective. Why hostile? I found that word particularly difficult.”
The full version of this interview is in the December edition of The Voice.
An Improbable Life is out now.