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Dale Farm Gate: Invisible Ideology

Thursday 29th September, haze clearing to a hot blue day, a late rush of Summer in full burn, and likely to last until Martinmass (11th November) so the weather doctors say. NB, as I'm sure I've told you before, some other September, an Indian Summer, New England style, where the expression comes from, is supposed to happen after the first hard frosts: making it the meteorological phenomenon we've known as a "St Martin's Summer" over here, for a thousand years or more. St Luke's summer, occuring around the 18th October, has been known as another of these, same timescale. Before the saints? I don't know, ask your nearest megalithic sun-worshipper or animist. Anyway, take your pick, today it is hot.

I'm not a huge great fan of the Traveller lifestyle. In my observation, and personal experience, a Travellers' camp (settled or transit, Irish, hippie, or whatever persuasion) does not step lightly on the earth. Not at all. Maybe things were different once, but right now, I'd put Travellers, as lovers of the land, somewhere on a par with agribusiness farming, though on a far smaller scale. On the other hand, take a closer look at the Dale Farm case, and it doesn't seem to be a clear cut case of trash-and-tyre-fires. It seems more like a storm in a Basildon Council teacup, fueled by inequalities in the laying down of the law; and all in a region of the South East (you wouldn't think there was room, but we do have strong regional variation) where rich or poor, organised or clueless, off the map, planning-permission-what's-that, opportunistic development is a bit of an ancient tradition in itself. So why am I not surprised that the Dale Farm eviction affair, a full-on, illegal, chained-themselves-to-the-railings, Direct Action has been basking in the sunshine of so much mainstream news coverage? Why so warm and sympathetic? What have these people got that other protestors haven't got? Is it because they is non-political? Or is it because in this case, grass-roots protest is serving an approved cause?

I think the answer may be here:

http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/save-our-countryside

and here:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/draftframework

Of course new houses are needed. Preferably, mostly, in towns. In cities and urban areas, where human infrastructure already exists, where public transport already exists. But the new National Planning Framework isn't designed to make that happen. Check it out. This is designed to make profit happen, by making things easier for opportunistic, greenfield, greenbelt developers. Everything will be much simpler, just jump straight in and take your profit straight out, without facing all that annoying red tape, or heaven forbid, actually doing something useful for the future. Brownfield sites, the land that needs improvement, the urban wasteland and post-industrial dereliction that needs investment will be shunned, even more than it is now.

The countryside is safe? Please. Like the NHS, Dave?

Right.

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