Whilst I thus have considerable sympathy for 99% of the denizens of Shipston-on-Stour who have been confronted over the weekend by the ingress of a band of what are euphemistically called ‘travellers’, I have none whatsoever for Tessa Jowell and her fatcat husband David Mills, who have suddenly found themselves with a burgeoning set of new neightbours-from-hell.
They, of course, are now separated as a result of Ms. Jowell being, if you will believe it, kept in ignorance of huge sums of money that seemed to be sloshing around in the family piggy bank and which are not unconnected with Mr. Mills having a date with the Italian Criminal Justice system. But, it is said, Ms. Jowell still visits the house in Warwickshire which is but two fields away from the field which, over the weekend, was turned from a piece of grazing land into a housing estate inhabited by the so-called ‘travellers’ (who by their very efforts in putting down roots deny the sobriquet) who are even now cocking a snook at the local citizenry and the local authority.
Quite apart from the notion that this may, in part, be pay-back time for La Jowell who, as minister responsible for the 2012 chemistry extravaganza known as the Olympic Games, has presided over the eviction of gypsies from sites earmarked for games-related development, it is also excellent that the political elite should, for once, be confronted by the sort of problem which afflicts long-suffering country folk on a daily basis up and down the land.
The disaffection of the public from the political classes is caused, in part, because they are perceived as being detached from and immune to many of the problems with which we simple folk have to wrestle on a daily basis.
They are driven hither and thither in large motor cars for the passage of which traffic signals are automatically set fair: the government picks up the bill for the maintenance of the car and for the fuel which over the course of Labour’s occupation of Whitehall has doubled in price. The State picks up the tab for their champagne life-styles to the tune of £400 per month in groceries so they will have had little reason to notice that which the rest of us have only too keenly noticed which is the inexorable rise in prices over the last eighteen months or so, carefully detailed by the Conservative party. Not the prices which make up the goods underlying the Consumer Prices Index, but the prices for the everyday staples of living – not just food and fuel, but the price of getting to work in the first place, taxes at every turn and yet new and more elaborate ways of being squeezed by a relentless and remorseless Socialist State.
The sullenly hostile response to the Budget did not happen overnight. No one woke up the morning after saying that they had suddenly realized they were gloomy about their lot in life. No, the Budget was merely the confirmation they were looking for that, yet again, Labour has blown all our money on the clients of the corporatist state and that hard times are not merely coming but have been here for months.
Which takes me back to Ms. Jowell’s own private tribulations with her new gypsy chums. They can now pop in to borrow a cup of sugar from their new neighbour and she can discuss with them the benefits to modern Britain of multiculturalism, the suppression of discrimination, the great leap forward that is the incorporation into English Law of the European Convention on Human Rights, the rising cost of getting to the nearest rural urban post office, the rising class sizes in the nearest village town school, the problem of rural policing, the sudden rise in incidences of poaching, the need for all rural properties to have their drives tarmaced and their rooves fixed and, generally, how wonderful a Prime Minister Gordon Brown is.
And the marvellous thing is that she can now have this wonderful opportunity for something like the next eight years which is, astoundingly, how long the soi-disant travellers reckon they can, with the help of a supine local council and the Human Rights Act, spin out the process of eviction which will now presumably follow.
Ms. Jowell may no longer live in their £1m country pad, but the arrival of the gypsy cantonment a few hundred yards away will probably have shaved off 30-50% of its value overnight, which is serious money, even to a family which seemed not to have noticed the ingress, progress and egress of £350,000 to the family finances which Italian Prosecutors reckon was a bung from Silvio Berlusconi. If there is to be a divorce, then that is a serious dollop of moolah which will no longer feature in the matrimonial finance settlement and which will, therefore, touch La Jowell where it hurts most politicians most: in their wallet.
We, on the other hand, should bury our natural instincts (which would be to bulldoze the didicoy encampment forthwith) and revel as this ineffably superior representative of the UK Nomenklatura has to grapple with the impingement of the real world on hers. As the tide of fly-tipped materials creeps ever closer to her rural idyll, she might care to reflect on the less-than-benign neglect of rural life that has characterised the attitude of the government she supports. It is too late for the likes of her to make amends, so we shall merely have to take a grandstand seat as she squirms her way through this one.
Still, a couple of years from now she may, hopefully, have a bit more time on her hands to tackle this unseemly intrusion into her backyard when she and her rotten fellow-travellers have been ejected from office by the people. Then, too, she will have time to reflect on the wisdom or otherwise of Labour’s neglect of the rural voters of England. And to wonder to whom those lurchers, which seem to come daily into the land at the back of the Jowell-Mills farm and clean out all those lovely fluffy bunnies, actually belong.