One hypocrisy I really enjoy is this: how the great and good go full the berserker when war, or Trump or other name sociopaths separate families for the political #win, but sort of let it slide when it happens here.
This is particularly true when the families are very poor, or immigrants, or, naturally, very poor immigrants. The consensus seems to be that immigrants feel the pain of separation less.
Certainly, the rest of the world feels their pain less.
In the past month or so, I’ve been speaking regularly with C, who is a woman in her 30s.
In her life, C has made two of our era’s bigger social mistakes. First one – she was born in Europe. She is Portuguese, but here. Gah. Second one – she’s a single mother. This is absolutely not her fault, but good luck marketing that. Main thing here is that C is suffering for her sins, so that at least will keep the jingoist crowd happy. Somebody’s getting something out of it, etc.
Actually, C is suffering for her landlord’s sins, but no doubt that also works. Two years ago, C was forced to ask Waltham Forest council for help, because she was homeless. The then-pregnant C had been renting a room from some chiseller who said he was the landlord, but was not. He was a tenant who sublet rooms to C and several other women, and, needless to say, paid their rent to himself.
The real landlord, of course, turned up one day in search of his rent. He wasn’t thrilled to find that his rent was all gone and that his place was being run as an unlicensed HMO by a robber. He chucked C and the other women out.
So far, so private rental sector.
Enter the calamity that is Waltham Forest council (I’ve had experience with Waltham Forest council’s treatment of homeless single mums, most of which I hope to forget).
Ever on the (often successful) prowl for ways to make a lousy situation worse, the council made the extraordinary decision to move C and her baby to a flat in very far-off Blackpool to live, presumably forever.
Even accounting for the possibility that nobody in Waltham Forest knew where Blackpool was, the council outdid itself sending C so far away from friends, family and her baby’s brother and father – an hours-long, massively overpriced return train journey “provided” by your choice of useless transport companies that at the moment couldn’t organise a trip to the shops.
Surely, the council could have found C a low-end flat in a neglected and downtrodden area closer to home? Councils used to like dumping homeless people in ratholes in towns like Slough and Colchester. What happened to those golden days? C didn’t actually demand to stay in London. She just wanted to be able to take the occasional trip there.
Placing C so far away isn’t even a cost-saving exercise, at least for the state. C was employed in London, but now must claim benefits by way of universal credit. As for landing a job in Blackpool – never say never, of course, but Blackpool has one of the highest unemployment rates around. C doesn’t know anybody, has no-one to help care for the baby and she is still learning English. She has also has serious depression now, because she is so isolated. Think we can safely say that she’ll be claiming universal credit for a while.
So, there we are. I doubt that C will be getting any big ideas about her human rights, or even being human, soon. Even dog rescue centres usually try to rehome dogs from the same family together, the understanding being is that dogs really feel these things.
You do find yourself wondering why this council practice of tearing people away from their families is still such a thing. No doubt it’s just part of the bigger game we’re playing – you know, the one where we’re trying to find out how much immigrants can take.
The screenshots are from some of C’s emails with the council over the last couple of years.