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Chris Weale
Upper Sixth
East Town

The Dale Farm fiasco: too lenient or an exemplar of current society?

The Dale Farm fiasco: too lenient or an exemplar of current society?

A typical summer day began slightly differently in July of this year. Despite news of fiscal crises in Greece, Ireland and Portugal, one domestic news story was only just beginning to raise its ugly head. Basildon County Council had recently ruled, after a vote with a convincing majority, that the inhabitants of Dale Farm were to be evicted by law. The Bailiffs were expected. The Bailiffs arrived. However the 86 families who continue to reside there refused to relocate.

Having spent £18.5 million pounds of taxpayer money to subsidise the eviction of the residents, Basildon Council has perpetuated an interminable legal battle which not only should have been concluded within a shorter space of time, but also a legal battle which calls into question human rights. In fact, so widespread has the issue become, that the United Nations, Amnesty International and Paddy Doherty have seen fit to intervene.

While Cameron, Miliband and the Daily Mail churn out the rather tiresome tag that everyone is obliged to obey the "law of the land", I find myself torn between what I think is morally right and that which is arguably the more lawful alternative.

We are, it is clear, on the brink of economic Armageddon: the Eurozone crisis ceases to vacate the front pages, and households are enduring hikes in gas and electricity which make daily life that much harder. If some citizens deem it acceptable to remain on areas of land illegally, I fear that this will serve as a precedent for future disobedience. If Basildon Council is defeated in this legal onslaught which now has become daily news, the efficacy of British law will be oscillating on a precipice. That the riots in August also demonstrate the impotency of the Law amongst the youth of today, serves to indicate how Government and Councils alike must enforce law, whether it be towards the youth, high-earning tax payers or more marginalised ethnic groups such as gypsies.

It sounds callous; yet it also seems fair.

Yet again, if the State neglects those who are the most vulnerable and the most ostracised then that is equally as damaging. I certainly believe that anti-gypsy prejudice is the most prevalent form of racism in contemporary society. Now that the 86 families have remained there for over a period of ten years, the State is obliged by law to relocate each and every inhabitant after relocation. With Basildon Council already having haemorrhaged almost £20 million on this saga, surely, for reasons of economic frugality, they must accept defeat?

What’s more is the issue of social inclusion. As things stand, the gypsies keep to their own and, recent media coverage aside, have never caused any form of social upheaval. And while we’re at it, why not look at the trouble caused by high-earning tax payers who stealthily conceal their hidden wealth in swish Swiss bank accounts – avoiding paying tax? If one were to assume that the gypsies did move from Dale Farm, not only would they find it difficult to find new homes, but also I doubt the feasibility of a smooth insertion into the rest of society. Would the rest of society welcome these people into their neighbourhoods?

Perhaps, but I’m not convinced.

26 September 2011

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