Travellers

Marxism and oppression

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Marxists are sometimes accussed of being dismissive of oppression, preferring to emphasise the importance of class. Sara Bennett explains why socialists argue for working class unity as the best way to combat, and ultimately abolish, all forms of oppression

Forty five years ago being gay in Britain was a criminal offence. Today there is a good chance we could see gay marriage legalised by the government before the end of its term in office. This is just one example of many huge strides forward we have achieved in the fight against oppression, whether of LGBT people, women, black people or other oppressed groups.

The Prophets Outcast

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''I am an invisible man. No I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fibre and liquids - and I might even be said to possess a mind."

The opening lines from Ralph Ellison's novel Invisible Man have remained etched on my consciousness ever since I first read them 30 years ago. The Invisible Man is narrated in the first person, by an unnamed African-American man, who is socially invisible. It could equally be applied to the Roma, Gypsy and Traveller communities of Europe today.

Travellers under attack

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Travelling communities have suffered bigotry and attacks for centuries - frequently characterised as petty criminals, they are seen as a soft target whose culture and way of life are illegitimate. Jake Pace-Lawrie reports from Dale Farm, Essex, where Travellers are struggling against eviction.

It was early morning in Essex when men in high-visibility jackets surrounded the trailers of Hove Fields. The families woke to find a gang of bailiffs had descended on them, and they were soon presented with a notice ordering that they leave their homes.

Land and Freedom

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Michael Howard has again scoured the gutter by attacking travellers and Gypsies.

He has taken aim at families unable to get planning permission for encampments, and proposed a raft of draconian measures to aid their persecution. As home secretary in 1994 he drew up the notorious Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, removing the duty of local authorities to provide caravan sites. Gypsies and travellers were to be 'encouraged' to purchase land and legitimise their sites through the planning system. The act criminalised trespass and gave the police harsh powers of eviction.

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