The above image is from a leaflet being distributed by the Labour Party in Basildon in the early stages of the run up to the local elections next May. Dale Farm II is a pretty emotive heading to use given the controversy surrounding the eviction of Dale Farm towards the end of 2011. While Basildon Labour start off by criticising the changes to the Local Plan initiated by the Tory administration running Basildon Council, it soon starts to play on fears of another Dale Farm type of settlement.
This is nothing more than Labour cynically grabbing what votes it can by appealing to anti-traveller sentiment in the area. Mentioning the lack of discussions with the police pretty much implies that the whole of the traveller community is a problem. Imagine implying that all Jews or the whole of the LGBTQ movement is a problem…it wouldn’t be allowed to happen without a furore. Yet somehow, travellers are seen as fair game by Labour. What they’ve published in this leaflet is pretty much the same squalid level of bile you would expect from the Tories or UKIP.
If Labour were really the progressive party they claim to be (stop sniggering at the back!), they would be writing about talking to the traveller community to reach a solution that benefits all parties instead of effectively criminalising them. Obviously, that’s too much like hard work for them and they prefer to pander to people’s bigotry instead.
We’re aware that there are divisions within Basildon Labour and know there are some members who are not happy about the anti-traveller sentiments expressed in this leaflet. As we currently have no insight into the dynamics of that division, we can’t really comment on the process that allowed this anti-traveller crap to make it into the leaflet.
However, we did notice the blurb in small print at the end of the leaflet which stated it was promoted by Cllr. Burton-Sampson. This is the same councillor who was one of the organisers behind the Basildon ‘Mini-Pride’ on Saturday 15th September which was called in response to homophobic literature being handed out in the town centre and on some of the estates. We happily attended that event because we do not want to see divisive hate literature being distributed on the estates.
You can see where this is leading can’t you? To all intents and purposes, it looks as though Cllr. Burton-Sampson has given his assent to a leaflet which effectively demonises travellers. We hope this is just an oversight and call upon Cllr. Burton-Sampson to disassociate himself from a leaflet which could be interpreted as hate speech.
We don’t like divisive hate literature being handed out on the estates when we’re slogging our guts out trying to build a sense of unity and common purpose. A leaflet picking on travellers is the kind of divide and rule shite that undermines what we’re trying to achieve. We’ve also no time for duplicity from local councillors who present a right-on, progressive face when it suits them on the one hand and then seemingly let reactionary crap pass into a leaflet in a cynical bid to grab votes on the other hand.
With the continuing demonisation of travellers, we’d be happy to support anyone in the local travelling community who wants to challenge it. That goes up to and including a ‘travellers pride’ procession along the lines of the Basildon ‘Mini-Pride’ that took place on Saturday September 15th. Although somehow, we suspect that the local Labour councillors would be conspicuous by their absence from any such event!