Wednesday, 23 January 2013

WISBECH HAS BEEN STRUCK BY TWO TRAGEDIES in less than a week. An elderly woman, Una Crown, was brutally stabbed at her home in Magazine Lane, and then set on fire, presumably in at attempt to conceal the crime. As I write, the police are working to solve what appears, on the surface at least, a vile crime without motive.
Then, while residents were reeling from the Magazine Lane murder, Saturday morning saw a massive police presence outside the Hare and Hounds on North Brink, a popular drinking spot known to most locals as 'The Dog'. We knew that a woman had died and there were early suggestions that her death might be drink or drug related. By Monday, it was revealed that the dead woman was Virginja Jurkiene, 49, of Oakroyd Crescent, Wisbech. Dainotas Doblys, 48, has been arrested and charged with murder, and two counts of rape. Virginja had a history of alcoholism, and an abusive father and husband. A colleague at the Rosmini Centre described how she had been at the centre just the previous week, and staff had tried to help her with various issues.
As the dreadful story played out over the social media, there were some frankly shameful comments along the lines of, "well, thank goodness it wasn't a local woman," and "this was a lovely little town before the immigrants got here."
There were calls for an anti-immigrant march, along the lines of one recently held in Boston, and another planned in Spalding. The barbed and witless comments continued to fly on Facebook. There was then a telling and courageous intervention from someone whose views and approach I have not always shared. Samantha Hoy weighed in on Twitter with

 "I am a Eurosceptic but please do not blame immigrants for governments allowing them to be here, they just want a better life."

As much compassion and common sense as one will ever read on Twitter, I believe. She continued to fight her corner against the bigots on a Facebook thread. Later in the evening, Steve Tierney - someone else with whom I rarely see eye-to-eye - took up the cudgel on behalf of reason and decency. Both of them should be commended for fighting their (unpopular, but totally correct and decent) corner.

As I have said before on this blog, it is utterly pointless to blame local politicians for the 'immigration problem'. The terms of the current EU treaty allow anyone from member states completely free access to otter countries in the union. In January 2014, it will all get worse, as residents of two of the most disfunctional and economically bankrupt countries in Europe - Bulgaria and Romania - will have unhindered access to Britain. Someone posted earlier - and I have not checked this out - that the average monthly income in Romania is well below a month's Jobseeker's Allowance in the UK.

MIGRANT LABOUR is nothing new. Neither is the exploitation of vulnerable groups of people. As a volunteer at the Rosmini Centre, I see the dark side. The migrant as victim, not villain. Sadly, the villains are more than likely not to be swarthy cartoon gangsters from Albania, but urbane and well-educated British citizens. In no particular order, then, my list of culprits.
(1) The chain of exploitation from rich farmers to unscrupulous gangmasters. The result is often that migrants are working for well below minimum wage. They may have to surrender their passports just to get work.
(2) Shadowy UK property owners and landlords who turn a blind eye to their rooms and houses being sub-let. They are putting up a vigorous resistance to a move to have ALL UK landlords checked and registered.
(3) The mindless Europhiles of all political parties who cannot comprehend the stresses and strains that unfettered immigration from the EU imposes on fragile local economies.
(4) The local planning and licensing authorities who relentlessly and recklessly grant drink licenses to corner shop after corner shop, in the full knowledge that street drinking of cheap liquor  by unemployed and hapless Eastern Europeans is a constant thorn in the side of those who are working hard to make our town centres friendly and safe places to visit and shop.
(5) The moronic collection of ex-skinheads and football supporters who make up the far-right 'political parties'. Do they really think that their sloganising and violence will have the slightest effect on anything, anywhere? And I have to include their diametric opposites, that feckless collective of failed beards and muddled idealism which typifies the far-left.

ALL GOOD MUSIC-HALL ACTS SHOULD FINISH WITH A SONG. And there is mine, but 'Give Me Sunshine' it is not. It is by Woody Guthrie, and refers to a plane crash in 1948, when a plane bearing migrant Mexican workers crashed in Los Gatos Canyon. The dead workers were never named in the press - they were just called 'deportees'. Virginja Jurkiene was not a deportee, neither was she a victim of the state. Two facts link her to the dead of Los Gatos. Firstly she was referred to as 'just another migrant'. Secondly, she was attracted to a foreign land by the idea that she could find a pot of gold at the end of a mythical rainbow.