It is eighteen months since plans to stage a protest march in Boston over the impact of high levels of immigration on the town were first voiced – and barring any last-minute changes of plan, Sunday will see a watered down “static” protest involving around 100 people.It barely seems worthwhile.
The original march was planned for November last year, but postponed because of fears of counter demonstrations – and because of a promise by Boston Borough Council thoroughly to investigate the issues and marecommend how they might be addressed.
That investigation took the form of a Task and Finish Group, which held eight “evidence” gathering sessions from the likes of employers, educationalists and the police.
This led to a final report containing 28 recommendations – many of which are unlikely ever to happen.
A few are national, and many of the local ones involve tinkering, rather than change.
When the report was published, reaction from the protesters was one of disappointment – from which emerged this Sunday’s “static” protest.
A closing debate took place on BBC TV’s Look North earlier in the week, when protest organiser Dean Everitt complained that services were overloaded and that the recent task and finish study didn’t go far enough.
Councillor Paul Kenny – the Labour group leader who chaired the sessions – said that whilst the council could get involved in local issues it couldn’t change national policy on issues such as immigration.
Organisers say they are hoping to send a clear message to both local and national politicians – and that the demonstration may be one of many to take place – including the possibility of one in London.
Frankly, we’d advise against this.
A hundred or so people standing still in the capital tends to be regarded as a bus queue – and as such unlikely to make much impression.
Whilst it may not have been the main aim, the council working party that took months to meet and report, was a form of attrition – and a year on, only a handful of the 2,354 members of the protest group will be attending on Sunday.
Whatever may be achieved will merely be some sort of catch-up exercise – as one significant line from the council report tells us: “What is clear is that the recent changes are set to continue.”
Over time, vigorous voices have become muted mutterings - and if nothing else, the report has made it clear that little can be done.
Ironically – given concerns over education – an advertisement for a Boston primary school in this week’s local newspapers appears in English, Polish, Latvian and Portuguese.
Four languages – in a school that has just 217 pupils.
Sadly, the powers that be seem to think that the answer lies in the soil, and that indigenous Bostonians must return to caulie cutting which will then encourage migrant workers to move on.
To this end, one of their main recommendations is to form closer ties between agriculture and education so that schools can pave the way to the packhouse – which is a shameful dismissal of the next generation of Bostonians that will doom them to a lifetime of low pay, and thankless work.
It seems to us that the best thing now that everyone has had their say is that after this one – and hopefully final – protest that the town should strive to make the best of the situation.
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