Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in /home/content/p3pnexwpnas07_data02/21/2835321/html/wp-content/themes/mh-magazine/includes/mh-custom-functions.php on line 364
The community of Irish travellers at Dale Farm in Basildon, Essex, have been living on the green field site for over a decade. A 400-strong community of 86 families and a hundred children, they are now facing eviction and homelessness at the hands of the local council. A whole community of poor and vulnerable people will be violently evicted from their homes and thrown onto the roadside.
No wonder the plans have sparked outrage. The council have found bureaucratic and technical grounds for the eviction in planning regulations. But at the root of this is old-fashioned racism and prejudice. “Gypsy bashing”, is one of the last forms of acceptable racism and the local council is clearly fanning the flames of an ethnic hatred for its own narrow political interests.
And they are prepared to spend vast sums to do it. The local council has put aside £8 million to cover the costs of the eviction, with an additional £10 million in police costs to carry it through, over £4 million of which has been directly offered by central government who are vocal in their support.
It is another example of how even in the age of austerity the government can find the cash to carry out reactionary policies, even as our public services face slash ‘n burn cuts.
This time though a mass campaign has confronted government policies had on. On the day of eviction hundreds will create a human shield around the site, and celebrities and religious leaders have also spoken out against the governments’ callous actions.
It has already had an effect with the United Nations reminding the government of its obligations under the rights of the child and protection of family life, to not forcibly make children homeless.
In Britain, local government not only have a statutory obligation to provide housing, but they also all meant to provide land for use by the travelling community, hardly any actually do so.
The council have not offered land at a new site, but in social housing which is allegedly sub-standard, and nothing like as good as the homes erected by the community at Dale Farm.
The legal rights of travellers and gypsies were won thanks to the resistance of the community to their oppression. And their cause was also taken up by the wider working class movement.
Indeed, the labour movement has a proud history of defending ethnic minorities and different lifestyles, from repression, prejudice and racism. We have to keep this spirit alive today and draw a clear class line. The attack on Dale Farm is part of a wider offensive against the working class and poor taking place all over Britain. We have to stand united against it across ethnic and cultural divides.
• Protest: September 10 Wickford Train Station 1pm