Then they came for the gypsies
By Grattan Puxon
The appearance of neo-facist leader Nick Griffin on a popular BBC panel programme this week has caused outraged protest by those who fear extreme-right wing policies are becoming acceptable in today's would-be police-state Britain.
But if the British National Party with its million votes is moving into the mainstream, its just as frightening that once middle-ground politicians are willing to court favour with the neo-fascists by assuming a brownshirt colouring.
Romanies and Travellers may have been in Britain half a millennium or more, yet are still not accepted by a middle -England majority. Those who continue to follow a nomadic life -style get it in the neck everyday due to institutional racism locked into our bureaucracy and police forces.
We're seeing it happen in Italy and Hungary, now we'll see it happening here. Twenty miles from the Mother of Parliaments, by the lorry-full and Landrover, with bulldozer and crane - stop them if you dare! - they're coming for the Gypsies.
On UN Human Rights Day 10 December, Basildon's Tory chief will formally lead his cabinet in voting to give a two million pound contract to a bunch of hard-hat bullyboys to oust hundreds of Travellers from his district. It will be the ugliest yet act of ethnic-cleansing by a British local authority against an outpost of Europe's nascent Roma nation.
Certainly the 4,000 Basildon voters who backed the British National Party at the last election will be pleased to have what in effect must be an endorsement of their bigoted anti-Gypsy attitudes. Something for the BNP’s two MEPs to boast about it in the European Parliament.
A dirty, neo-fascist wave, a tsunami of social exclusion, is to break over the peaceful Dale Farm community, smashing up lives and drowning the hopes of another generation of Traveller children, presently attending local schools.
No matter that the impotent UK Children's Commissioner says it shouldn't happen, and boo to the goose that is the Commission for Equality and Human Rights. The CEHR has let itself be used in the charade which Basildon council calls its court-mandated engagement talks with Dale Farm residents. Sorry, that should read resident; only one attended this week's hole-in-the corner meeting with hard-nosed get 'em shifted project leader Dawn French.
The incessant message of these talks, now labelled pointless by a Gypsy Council representative, is that hundreds of Dale Farm residents must abandon their homes and land and, voluntarily, wander forth along Britain's rage-ridden roads - where you can't even light a fire nowadays without attracting a fine.
Oh, Basildon may have been told by the UK Government to provide alternative land for the Dale Farm community. Obligatory under the Housing Act.
Only Tony Ball interprets that as a mere request and stands sturdily by his eviction policy, believing the brutal back lane happenings will be quickly covered over by next May's expected Tory election landslide.
In bright new British Cameronland it won’t matter what happened to the Gypsies.
However, there is every sign that Dale Farm is fighting back. The rape of human rights is not something mothers here will take lying down. They are organizing a mass rally outside the Basildon Centre for 12 noon on Human Rights Day, an event they intend will be worthy of that universal anniversary.
They are also seeking to address a last appeal to the cabinet meeting at 7.30 pm that evening.
"We hope," says Mary Sheridan, recently back from Germany, from where 14,000 Roma are being forcibly repatriated to Kosovo, "that those upset by the sight of the BNP on television will be moved to join us in trying to stop fascist talk becoming brownshirt action."
Can blatant racism be halted? Basildon is the next battleground. Meanwhile, Dale Farm residents and supporters have received death-threats, several of which have been reported to Essex police, it was revealed at a Human Rights Day planning meeting last evening attended by former Mayor of London aid Atma Singh.
JOIN THE HUMAN RIGHTS DAY RALLY !!
12 noon 10 December
St Martin's Square, Basildon
Transport for supporters: contact
APPEAL FOR FUNDS
Veerendra Rishi, director of the Indian Institute of Romani Studies, has started an appeal fund for this event with a one hundred pound donation.
Please send what you can by cheque to:
Dale Farm Housing Association
1 John Harper Street
Colchester C01 1RP
24 October 2009