Whilst there’s no denying that racism still exists in Britain, it is fair to say that by and large, racism is now considered socially unacceptable. Except, that is, racism against one particular group – and no, I don’t mean people with ginger hair:
An emergency notice has been served on an illegal gypsy camp, which was set up at the weekend on greenbelt land in Meriden. It is believed the travellers had purchased the plot of land from a landowner but did not have permission to build on the site.
Travellers bulldozing a field in a peaceful Solihull village to create a caravan site have been ordered to stop work by the authorities. Angry residents set up a road block with farming trucks stopping lorries taking building materials to the site.
This is not, as is often the case, travellers just moving onto a piece of common land and setting up, or even a case of them moving on to somebody else’s land without permission. This piece of land, they have legally bought.
Admittedly, they haven’t got planning permission to set up a camp on the land – intending instead to try to gain retrospective planning permission part way through the work. This is of course still illegal – but is a common practice carried out by big time developers and small time homeowners for their rear extensions alike. Overwhelmingly, when applied for, retrospective planning permission is granted.
But in this case, planning permission for the travellers’ site probably won’t be granted – even though it probably would have been for a block of nice little boxes on the hillside flats for rich people. And had it been flats for rich people, the people of Meriden almost certainly wouldn’t have turned out in force to block the road.
Because racism against travellers is the one remaining socially acceptable form of racism. Not only is it acceptable, it’s almost mandatory. Call somebody a nigger, wop, or paki and you’ll be quite rightly castigated for it. Call them a gypo or a pikey and your friends will laugh approvingly; take somebody to task for using the word gypo and they’ll tell you not to be so sensitive, that it’s Political Correctness Gone Mad(tm).
Now it’s true that many illegal traveller encampments need an awful lot of clearing up when they are eventually evicted. It’s also true that they shouldn’t move in illegally in the first place.
But if councils met their obligations to provide a certain number of travellers’ sites in the first place, there would be less of a problem of ‘illegal’ encampments. And ultimately, if you treat people like pariahs, then like pariahs they will behave.
So when can we see the end of this last socially acceptable form of racism?