In the case of Dale Farm, people are blinded by prejudice…..
Question Time on Twitter usually causes some heated debate and this week was no different. Dale Farm was one of the contentious topics. Sadly, I think people are thinking about this issue through the prism of their own prejudice against travelers. Of course, they make pious noises about need for ‘rule of law’ and of ‘equality before the law’ but the fact is if they believe in this then they need to make a more rounded consideration of the facts.
Serious questions need to be asked of Basildon Council and it’s conduct of the case. The claims that it is Green Belt land are in fact contested. Evidence exists that the council converted it into a brownfield site before the travelers even took ownership of the land:
Ray Bocking, the former owner of the site, alleges that the council themselves authorised (or were at least complicit with) the laying of hard-standing, and contracted Mr Bocking to store cars there. Aerial photographs from the 1990s clearly show the scrap yard on the eastern side of Dale Farm, the side where the ‘illegal’ Traveller settlements are now based.
Furthermore, if the above is true, then Basildon Council is guilty of a campaign based on misinformation and lies and last, but no means least, it is also guilty of perjuring itself both in front of the High Court and Court of Appeal. This has also been a costly campaign Currently the costs are estimated at close to £18 million. If Basildon Council has spent this money merely to persecute people whose lifestyle choices are not to their taste then maybe the government ought to view this as the kind of waste they are supposed to be cutting back on.
Indeed, a fraction of that money would have covered the costs of making satisfactory alternative arrangements for the travelers which the council are legally obliged to do. However, the council clearly have no interest in doing this because they are not concerned with the law, with ‘Green Belt land’ or anything else but inflicting tyranny on a minority group whose way of living does not meet with their approval. I believe in equal application of the law but it is clear to me the Dale Farm evictions are not an example of this, rather they tend to point to prejudicial nature of the laws application in cases like this. So, by all means call for the eviction of the travelers if that is what you want but at least have the decency to admit the reason you want that is because of prejudice not because you some kind of noble defender of ‘equality before the law’.