In the weeks which have past since the destruction of Dale Farm, the hype and discussions surrounding the rights of Gypsy and Traveller communities have undoubtedly died down. For the activists who spent weeks, if not months, living alongside the travellers of Dale Farm, I have no doubt that this battle remains fresh in their minds and close to their hearts, yet for many others who claimed to be supporters, it appears they may have forgotten about the plight of the Gypsy and Traveller communities and simply moved on to the next big thing – that is, the Occupy movement.
Indeed, it would be foolish to contend that one is entitled to have passion for one cause only. When we live in a society governed by the 'elite', there will always be fights to be fought and battles to be won, yet we appear to be living in the age of the bandwagon activist. Not a month goes by without the demonstrations of young, well spoken and well educated 'lefties'. What do we want? FREE EDUCATION/ HIGHER PENSIONS / SAVE DALE FARM/ LESS RACIAL TENSIONS / DOWN WITH WALL STREET/ DOWN WITH BANKERS/ YOU'RE ALL SEXIST/ TORIES ARE WANKERS. Of course, I am sure that these are all legitimate fights to be had, particularly the latter, but unfortunately activism has become a particularly fashionable hobby for the future left elite. God save our souls and bless those who fight with passion from the heart not the bandwagon.
With this in mind, can the fight for equality, for the Gypsy and Traveller communities in the UK, really benefit from this new movement of lefties who have taken us under their wing? Was their support honest and filled with passion, or was Dale Farm simply a hit to feed their addiction to being left wing junkies. The author of The Logical Conclusion contends that Gypsy and Traveller communities are in fact 'NaturalLibertarians' and that “the left and Travellers are an alliance of convenience”. Is it time we faced the facts and looked at just how compatible the left and the Gypsy and traveller communities are?
If, for example, we look at Education, it is clear to see that the left are advocates of state education which gives every child and equal opportunity of success no matter their class, culture, colour or creed (nice utopia). The Labour party set a target that by 2010, they would increase participation in higher education, for those aged 18-30, to 50% . More young people are succeeding in education and waving bye to mum and dad to start their new life as a young academic at university, thanks to the left and their policy of widening participation. We now have an education system that teaches our children we will never be rich and successful unless we make it to university, but don't shake in your jumble sale boots, even the poor can be academics now! Hooray!
We now have a situation where there are far to many people applying for University, to study for degrees which 30 years ago they could have studied for in their local college for half the time and for half the cost, thus it is hardly surprising that tuition fees have soared. This has, of course, brought a pouring of outrage from the left who demand a free education for all. Everyone should have the opportunity to be as highly educated as their fellow lefties whom, at the pinnacle of their intellectual ability, took it upon themselves to sit in tents and represent those of us who weren’t lucky enough to have highly educated parents who could fund us to spend months soap dodging outside cathedrals.
Lefties, its time to get real. Find me a Gypsy or a Traveller who actually wants to be a GP, a lawyer, a journalist, or the next David Cameron. Gypsy and Traveller children do need an education, they need to learn to read and they need to learn to write, but Gypsy men are tradesmen, they traditionally have been and they traditionally will be. Sorry lefty feminists, but ask any Gypsy girl if they want to break the glass ceiling of gender inequality and they'll probably say no. Indeed, the majority of Gypsy girls are happy to leave school young and be the home maker. Feel free to make your ethnocentric judgements but that is reality.
Indeed, there are Gypsy and Traveller children who have different ambitions (yes - different ambitions not 'higher expectations') and these ambitions may be down the academic path. Can state education ever be the place for Gypsy and Traveller children to succeed academically? I argue NO. Unless you give every teacher and every child and every MP a personality transplant which rids them of their ignorance, Gypsy and Traveller children will be failed time and time again by a prejudiced and unresponsive state education system (see my earlier blog). Gypsy and Traveller children need a culturally sensitive and responsive eduction system that ultimately would segregate them from mainstream education. The truth is we will never have an education system, no matter how left our government is, that will give Gypsy and Traveller children the best opportunities to succeed in whatever path they choose, unless these children assimilate to mainstream culture. I oppose assimilation, and thus perhaps we can argue that Gypsy and Traveller children will only thrive under a libertarian education system.
Debating the political philosophy best suited to the Gypsy and Traveller communities may be interesting, but meanwhile the inequalities that they face are still very real. Do Gypsies and lefties want the same kind of society? I'd say probably not. Does that mean we can't have the same passions? Of course not. The important thing here is that if we are to fight the inequalities we must be supported by people who are committed to the fight, who don't treat us as part of a wider hobby of activism, and who don't try to impose political ideology upon us. In 20 years time when my younger siblings are adults, I want them to be living in a society that is more understanding of their culture. We have a fight on our hands, and that fight is a fight for equality not a battle with ideology. So whether your a lefty, a libertarian, a blue, or a communist, feel free to join the fight.