Monday, 23 July 2012


THERE IS A FACEBOOK PAGE called 'Wisbech Town Wisbech'. It appears to be moderated by Eastern Europeans, mostly Lithuanians, I think. From what I can see, most of the posts are adverts for (possibly) dodgy tobacco, minibus trips to and from 'the old country', and accommodation. Not a shining light in the quest for better understanding and integration perhaps, but harmless enough. In the last few days, there has been a thread running which started with this post. (I have blocked out the names and the obscenities - the matter has now been referred to the police)

From this inspired and thoughtful comment on modern life, there then followed a succession of over ninety posts. Some were from articulate and puzzled migrants, whose spelling and command of English was somewhat better than that of their assailants. The poisonous responses continued.

A woman who had visited Wisbech recently weighed into the conversation, agreeing that some of the behaviour of some migrants left a lot to be desired, but revealing that she had been embarrassed and shocked by the language and attitude of some very obviously 'local' people during her visit. As this woman was obviously from the far-east, this then provoked another descent into the gutter.

There are many long and complex issues buried beneath the hate and obscenity of these Facebook posts. YES, it does seem virtually impossible to have a sensible debate about migration without the Race Card being flourished at the earliest opportunity by the ragged remnants of the professional left wing. YES, we are overcrowded, and there is intense pressure placed on our Public Services by migration, mainly from the EU. However, NO amount of frustration can justify this barely literate spew of hate and prejudice.

I close with this personal observation. I do volunteer work at the local drop-in centre, teaching English. Every Thursday night, without fail, we have a class of 20-odd men and women from all over Europe. In no particular order, we see Poles, Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians, Hungarians, Slovaks, Bulgarians…and some I have probably missed. Almost inevitably, they have worked a long day somewhere at some repetitive, poorly paid job. They drag themselves in to the language class to spend the next two hours grappling cheerfully with a complex and puzzling language. At the end, they are all ridiculously grateful and polite, but then they go home, usually to shared accommodation, sometimes two or three to a room. As I said to my colleague last week, "What on earth can things be like 'at home' if their lifestyle here is preferable…?" 

POSTSCRIPT - some common sense on migration issues from one of our local politicians.(and never mind the greengrocers' apostrophe - he talks sense!)