Monthly Archives: June 2015

Contrasting migrations…

Last night I watched Kevin McCloud on TV, filming a British family who’ve chosen to sell up in London and live on the side of a volcano in Chile.  I loved their adventurous spirit, their ‘just do it’ attitude.  This morning I listen to the news on the radio about more migrants drowning in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe. How does it come to this?

The relative wealth of Europe is in stark contrast to the countries that the migrants come from. Listening to the interview this morning, I’m struck though, that it’s not only material wealth – it’s the wealth of freedom and hope. One young man said “you can do anything in Europe – I want to study”.

In contrast, the family now living in Chile, spoke of being trapped by the rat race in London, doing jobs they didn’t particularly love, living a life they didn’t love, and only seeing more of the same for their kids. They wanted adventure for sure, but they also wanted to live more lightly, valuing natural beauty and time with each other while their kids were young. I couldn’t help but identify with their desire to live differently (though I’m not sure I could be as hard core as them and live on the side of a volcano). They get to choose to live differently, because they sold their London house, because they had studied, because they had the wealth to trade in. The young migrant who nearly drowned in the Med had none of those on his journey.

I hope the young migrant gets to study, to work, to build a life he loves. Europe needs young talent to grow and prosper – and anyone who’s had the commitment to get here surely has something to offer.

But his home country needs it more. Building the freedoms, creating the businesses, generating the wealth – closing the wealth & inequality gap between Europe and its neighbours is the only long term way to stop this human tragedy playing out in the Med.

The Battle of Orgreave…

  

( Picture courtesy of the telegraph  : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/uknews/10607957/In-pictures-A-look-back-at-the-Battle-of-Orgreave-in-1984.html?frame=2807590 )

I surprise myself at how deeply moved I am watching this evening’s Channel 4 news. The IPCC are not going to hold a public enquiry into what happened at Orgreave. There’s an middle-aged former miner who can’t speak at his press conference, because he is in tears. And I’m just moments behind him.

I was an odd kid as a Hampshire teenager – I avidly watched the news of the miners strike in the 80s. Much to the astonishment of my southern, staunch Tory parents. They must have wondered what on earth had happened to me.

So I remember the horrific, almost biblical, pugilistic images of the Battle of Orgreave on the 6 o’clock news. But now I see it with adult eyes. And I’m reminded and saddened how Thatcher’s Britain turned working man against working man. Miners and Policemen, both public sector workers, both doing hard & sometimes dangerous jobs, and both traditionally unionised. How did they end up pitted against each other?

I look to the political and civic leadership of the time, and can only conclude that the politicians sought to use the police force as part of their political war on the working class. And the police leadership failed their rank and file officers by taking them into it.

There’s every chance I’m wrong about that. An IPCC enquiry might have had me better informed.

I’m interested in people power.  If the IPCC won’t investigate, can the people do it for themselves? What would a crowd-sourced testimony look like? Surely the simple act of honesty, of telling the stories of what really happened, could be a key part of healing the hurt that still exists.