The last time I wrote about Dale Farm I had been living there for four days and it had felt inspiring to be a part of Camp Constant and the Dale Farm Solidarity Campaign, trying to resist the eviction of the largest Traveller community of its kind in Britain. I am now writing this six weeks later and after an aborted eviction attempt and a short respite as another appeal has gone through the courts, eviction is once again imminent. It is not my intention to interrogate the facts around the council’s pretext for the eviction as I already laid down in my previous article my argument for why I believe it is unjust and based on prejudice. After having lived there for five weeks the following article represents just a small part of my personal experience of being at Dale Farm, the wider context of what I have discovered and why I think you should get your arse down there immediately.
The Wider Context
We are seeing something very worrying in the UK, a Conservative government that is losing control. We have converging global food, climate and energy crises. Unemployment, economic instability, rising costs and crumbling public services . We have seen civil unrest on the streets of London and a government that is struggling to know how to react in the face of a collapsing neo liberal capitalist system.
The usual, knee-jerk reaction for a regressive government in this situation could be a rallying call in the face of a common enemy, the ‘bad guy’ a war, but we have been in Afghanistan for 10 years now and everyone has grown weary, soldiers and the general public alike. Didn't we go there to ‘get’ Bin Laden? He's dead, so what are we doing there? Fighting the Taliban doesn’t seem to really have an end in sight. Libya? Well, on the surface it looks like a war but it’s complicated. Are we at war? Are we supporting the rebels? In the context of Dale Farm, in what appears to be an effort to tap into the spirit of nationalism, the Conservatives seem to be going to war on their own citizens. They are attacking the youth, attacking the travellers, using fear of 'the other' to rally the country towards regressive domestic policies which will inevitably lead towards more civil unrest and more fear. This is all because they are not dealing with the root causes of 'problems' like Travellers, only the symptoms.
Displacing the Travellers will not solve this issue, it will just move it. This is why we must stand up in the name of truth and justice and defend communities like Dale Farm. You can talk to me about technicalities of planning law if you like, or we can talk about trends and drastic actions taken throughout history which resulted in the vowing of 'never again'. This eviction is senseless from whichever way you look at it and I believe there is a deeper and wider context behind this issue than just the occupation of greenbelt land. This is why we have to act.
I was locked into the drum with my friend Emma who also had her neck chained to the main gate, something which seemed to scare quite a lot of people, including many of the travellers at first. Most importantly, however, it also provoked a strong reaction on the part of the bailiffs. It was in fact a last minute, pragmatic solution to the problem of how to stop the bailiffs from just pulling open the gate.
Much of the media has sensationalised our actions, claiming we concreted our arms into the barrel, which as anyone with a semi-functioning brain could tell you, would be highly dangerous as concrete is corrosive. When we would eventually have been cut out, we would have had nothing left but a skeletal arm.
So in the interest of public safety, just in case you feel that you want to create you very own 'Beast' to help fight injustice, here is a little diagram showing how it works.