The evictions at Dale Farm are wrong. Eviction – forcibly removing someone from their home – is always a serious evil in itself. It is resorted to far too easily in this country, and is in pretty well every circumstance a far greater evil than the problem it seeks to resolve. That seems to be the case here.
The media has been scarily propaganda laden. We are told that this is green belt land, which will always provoke a strong and justified countryside protection reflex in the middle class. But in truth this was not a site of green fields, but a scrapyard. I very much doubt it will be returned to green fields now. The government meantime has been telling us for months we have to give up green belt so that homes can be built on it. Homes, of course, for nice middle class people. Not these homes.
The media have gone out of their way to promote every old prejudice against travellers – I have seen interviews alleging illegal tipping, dirt, and squalor. I doubt there is a great deal of truth behind these cliches in this case, but if there is some truth, the remedy is not eviction. The media is shrill also that these travellers are members of an extended Irish family, members of which own some property in Ireland. Why that is taken as removing their claim to humane treatment in Essex is something I fail to follow.
The biggest mystery to me is why the travellers wish to live next to such very unpleasant people in Basildon.
A society should not be judged by how it treats those who conform neatly to its regulations and social norms. It should be judged by how it treats minorities who do not so conform. It is a test we are failing.