- Politics and Social Issues
Love Thy Neighbour, Not Just Thyself. Last Hope For Traveller's Basildon Camp
Nowhere to go! Despite all Britain's huge estates.Click thumbnail to view full-size
Basildon Travellers due to be Evicted Tonight!
(Stop Press. In the last half hour. The Travellers lost their last appeal this afternoon: as of midnight tonight, they may be legally (if not morally) evicted. Basildon council have said it may actually take a little more time due to a sick woman who can't be moved and other considerations. But the bulldozers, baliffs and flat-foots wait in the wings) Now, please read story written earlier today.
Residents in the Essex township of Basildon, near London, are on edge today as the Travellers who occupy one of the largest sites in Europe are scheduled to be evicted tonight (Aug 31).
The travellers, who prefer the free and easy life in their caravans, have occupied the site for ten years and the land - an old scrap metal yard - was legally purchased by them. Despite that, a vendetta against the travellers by local residents and the Basildon Council has finally secured the eviction order in the courts and the residents must go unless there is a last ditch "pardon" from the high court. (In the UK you can buy some green belt and forestry land, but you are not allowed to live on it nor build on it).
Basildon council will re-house the travellers, it says and, indeed, would have to do so under the law. An expensive proposition for the more than 80 families, including many children and the aged, who say they do not want to be split-up from which is now their community, with many children born there. (The council has already devoted 8 million pounds to win the eviction!)
The council, neighbours, and many like them in smaller sites throughout the country have been assisted by the climate under Cameron's government which has shown it is on the side of the local property owners, (and the moneyed classes in general...yawn!). Eric Pickles, a government secretary, has practically devoted all his energies in obtaining eviction orders of "this valuable green-belt land," (an ugly, disused scrap yard until the travellers found it).
Politicians have found there are three areas likely to loose them the electorate: allocating buildings for asylum seekers, authorising wind-turbine sites, foisting new prisons on a given area or, worst of all, backing the claims of travellers.
If these folk do get evicted tonight, it may spell the end for most travellers in Britain. For some reason which eludes me, there is vigorous, racially motivated hatred against these caravan dwellers in this nation. Perhaps it is because I lived in the USA for so much time where the trailer (caravan) lifestyle is an accepted way for many to live, especially retired folk. Of course, space is not the worry there that it is in Europe. Yet other European countries don't operate with quite so much hatred against travellers; in fact, what is happening in Basildon today flouts several European human rights laws and the courts have been so advised from Brussels (I heard).
There are some activists defending the travellers and vowing to stand with them to the end. One is the actress Vanessa Redgrave, a champion of the oppressed and under-classes all her life. You may remember her being black-listed in Hollywood for years for making anti-Jewish comments at the Oscars. She is a little gray haired old lady of 74 today, but lacks none of the fire that won her Oscar, along with many other awards.
From listening to the spokesman for Basildon Council, it does seem as if few of the promises they made to the travellers (such as finding them adequate sites to move-to and providing utilities) have been kept, or are intended to be kept.
The police and bailiffs are due to move in, mob-handed, tonight and many are predicting a blood-bath as there will be many activists present, including, say the council, “anarchists” determined to stir up trouble. I have a wry grin every time some administration trots out the “anarchist label” a bit like the “communist label” during the McCarthy era in the US. Don’t you always get a mental picture of a shadowy figure in a pointed hat and cloak, carrying a sparking, round bomb!? It seems to me as if we could all do with a bit of the anarchist in us these days.
Yes, many of the families feeling crowded by this large camp in a small village, are understandably upset, but I have no sympathy at all in turning 80 families out on the streets and kicking them out of “Dodge” This country is too small to tell them to become someone else’s problem. They didn’t just drive up last week and squat, for goodness sake! They have been there half a generation; have decent, well organized group and concrete pads for the vans. They are part of the local community whether the other residents like it or not: their kids go to school there; their oldsters visit local clinics and hospitals, they shop. I imagine there is a large economic benefit in having them there.
This benighted land has a history of oppressing those who can least bear it for hundreds of years. One might be puzzled as to why the articulate and Oxbridge educated Cameron hasn’t got enough sense to stop this cruel eviction, and one that will end up biting him in the arse if it sparks-off more civil unrest here. (The man reminds me more and more of the orchestra conductor frantically waving his arms at his musicians, all playing louder; more and more out of tune).
It just is not true that the label ascribed to these latter-day “gypsies,“ the travellers, in general, are rich, lazy, criminal and violent, any more than is true of any other segment of the so-called “lower-classes.” (Or the bankers and politicians!). And there is something appealing about their care-free life styles. In fact, this existence is more attuned to evolution, when man was a “hunter-gatherer” and moved with nature’s rhythms, than being stuck in a two up, one down council bungalow in Deptford all your miserable life. But Britain really isn’t the place to be and do it any more. In fact, it isn’t the place for anyone to be these days, except bankers and wan---, er, Wayne Rooney.