The leader of Labour councillors in Basildon, Cllr Linda Gordon, said she was “ashamed of living” in Basildon “and ashamed of the human race” over the level of support in the town for the removal of the Travellers.
Many locals, she said, misunderstand the issues, believing Dale Farm would be Traveller-free after the evictions, “but it won’t, since the ones living at the front of the site are living there legally and are not going anywhere”.
Mr Miliband supported the decision of the Conservative-controlled council to go ahead with the £18 million (€20.5 million) eviction plan, saying: “The law does have to be upheld right across the country, whatever background people are from, wherever people are.”
Cllr Gordon, who said she and her 10 Labour council colleagues had been subjected to local abuse for opposing the evictions, said she was “disappointed” with Mr Miliband’s comments. She believed he made them “without having any idea of the actual circumstances” at Dale Farm.
Much of the local opposition, she said, was coming from people who live nowhere near Dale Farm: “I don’t know if many of them have even driven past the place. It makes me quite ashamed to live in the borough. You would think that we are living in some Third World dictatorship. This isn’t some oasis of loveliness, it was a scrapyard.”
So, let's get this straight: most of the people in Basildon support the Council clearing the Dale Farm site and instead of at least understanding their point of of view she is ashamed to be living amongst them. Remember, she is not some random person off the street, she is a person who is saying she wants to lead the community of Basildon Borough, while at the same time she is ashamed to be living in Basildon and ashamed of its people.
To an outsider this would seem to be unbelievable, but to those who know about local politics it is not much of a surprise. Basildon Labour view Conservatives not as having a different argument, but as basically evil. So, the fact that the nearest settled community in Cray's Hill is in a Conservative-held Council ward is a key factor. If you already dislike the people near Dale Farm because of their politics then their plight is easily discounted when compared to that of the Travellers. Couple that with the desire to see yourself as a paragon of liberal and progressive human rights, which is a common thread among local Labour Councillors, and it is but a short step from damning everyone who doesn't agree with your world view, regardless of the fact that they happen to be your very own people.
Lynda's contempt for those who don't share her views even extend to her own party leader. The idea that the Leader of the Opposition would not have had at least a condensed brief on a major national news story is ridiculous. At the very least she seems to think his staff are morons.
The fact is that on this issue the very well-informed people of Basildon Borough have got it absolutely right. They see a flagrant breach of the law and a Council that has spent years to try and get the Travellers of Dale Farm to leave peacefully. No one wants a forced clearance of the site, but in the final analysis the law is for everyone and must be applied fairly. The vast majority of Basildon's people understand that and expect their Council to act on their behalf. That is what we are doing.
As for Lynda, if you are truly so ashamed to be living in Basildon then I suggest you move somewhere else. Islington is nice I hear.