The Blog of
Nadine Dorries
She was born in the wagon of a travellin' show
Posted Friday, 13 April 2007 at 09:36

 

I sang the well know song by Cher all the way home from a meeting tonight. I know all the words, I bet you do too.

 

I spent the night in Flitton Village Hall in the company of over 500 residents.

I was a bit taken aback by the number of people present. I drove up at 8pm, and if I hadn’t known where the hall was, I would have spotted it easily by the droves of people walking towards it.

 

As I got to the main gate, I was met by a lady who passed me through the crowd to another, and then another, until they got me into the hall where I went straight up onto the stage. There was no room anywhere else for me to stand, people were sitting all over the floor and the chairs had been full for some time. People were standing in the car park listening through the open windows.

 

I commented as I passed through the crowd how surprised I was that there were so many people there. Some joked and said, we’ve all come to see you Nadine – but I know that wasn’t the case, the meeting was about Gypsies and travellers.

 

As a little girl I spent idyllic Irish holidays on my Uncle Tom and aunty Mollie's farm in Bangor Erris, Co Mayo. My Uncle Eammon and Aunty Bridget owned the local village shop, they still do, My cousin Moira and I often used to serve in the shop.

 

When the tinkers called with their big horse drawn wagons, Aunty Bridget used to fly behind the counter and shoo us into the back room. The fear was that because I had Blonde hair, a rare thing in Eire, the tinkers might steal me.

 

One brave day when Aunty Bridget was feeding the baby, I served the tinkers, and lived to tell the tale.

 

The tinker was a statuesque woman, dressed in black and brown, accessorised with eyes and teeth the same colour. Her hair was long, wild and wind blown and had obviously never seen a comb or been washed in weeks. She probably had been born in the wagon of a travellin’ show.

 

She sat on the board at the front of the wagon and didn’t move. Moira wouldn’t come out of the shop and I couldn’t tell what the woman sat high up on the wagon was asking for. Moira translated from behind the door, and then threw the tobacco and barley twists out to me.

 

The tinker threw the money down to me for the goods, and then I threw them up. Moira wouldn’t let me give them to her unless I got the money first.

 

 Moira was hissing at me from behind the door in her scared ‘Holy Mary mother of God will ye get ye’sel back in here now, Jesus ye are too close,. She’ll have ye before ye know it ”

 

The tinker smiled at me, which I remember shocked me, and I think I jumped a bit, she then cracked the whip on the two big horses, shouted something in Gaelic, spat her chewed tobacco at my feet, and rode off

 

I picnicked out on that for months.

 

When I got back inside, Aunty Bridget made me wash the money,  and scrub my hands under the brown, peaty, icy water of the outside tap. The water pumped straight from the Owen More river which ran by less than 50 yds away.

 

I remember Moira and I laughing so much around the tap, I think we were relieved to have survived the scary ordeal!

 

In 1994 the then Conservative government removed from Local Authorities the obligation to provide Gypsy sites.

 

The Labour Government have just re instated this obligation and my constituency has to provide 40 pitches by 2021, 20 immediately. All are to be designated in local rural villages. Feeling are running high.

 

The councils have no option, they have to do it. When I saw Richard and Tricia, local councillors, putting forward their position to the audience I realised what a tough job it can be, being a local councillor. It is a vocation, it does take long hours, and you get very little thanks. Appologies to all those standing in local elections for the first time!

 

My position on this subject is very hard line. If you want to live in Flitton village, get yourself an education, a good job, save up and buy yourself a house. Big round of applause. Not deserved though, because my hard line position is not an answer to what the residents of Flitton are facing.

 

Unfortunately, the reality is that the only option available to us is hope. Hope that feelings will run equally high everywhere and the government, as they do on so many things, will back down.

 

My job now is to become a flea in the ear of the ministers and those who are trying to impose this on Flitton, and I will apply for a Westminster Hall debate on the subject first thing on Monday.

 

 

For all the bleeding hearts that are about to blog me and tell me that gypsies and travellers are now classed as an ethnic group because of their culture and beliefs I say this - I have no problem with that. You can believe and follow whatever culture you like – but if you want to live in England you do it living in a house, send your children to school and conform to the societal framework that the rest of us have to, because that’s how it is in Britain. That’s how we live; it’s a British culture thing.

 

If you want to show me traveller sites where there is harmony within the community, I will point out to you that on those sites the children probably attend the local school, and the families largely conform and are law abiding.

 

I will then take you to see some of my farmers fields, three acres in Brogbrough is where we will start, where travellers have created mayhem.

 

There should be no such thing as a right to reside unless that residence is to take place within an appropriate home subect toall the usual planning laws and constraints the rest of us who pay tax and council tax have to abide by.

 

As one lady in the audience, sat on a hard floor, pointed out last night - if the new laws are about equality then surley that is equality for all. Travellers and Gypsies should have to live by the laws which make us all equal. Exactly.

 

My solution to the traveller problem is this; In Britain the culture is to live in a static home, work, pay taxes and save for the things you want in life. Live here by all means, have your own culture, as many do, however, you have to live in within the framework of the values this society operates within.

 

‘Every night all the men would gather round…’

 

Not in Flitton they won’t Cher!

 
 
 
Anonymous said:
Responded: Friday, 13 April 2007
Thank you for coming last night to our (currently) pleaseant environmment in Flitton. We had the misfortune to live near a travellers site in our last house in Sussex. What was not mentioned last night was that the travellers children travelled on the bus with our children to school. There were fights stealing from, our children and once, when the bus driver reprimanded one of the travellers children, he was beaten up by the father. The recreational area became a no-go zone for the resident children for fear of the travellers. One of the travellers sons crashed a stolen car into a another killing two children and their mother. He had to be tried in another county as nobody would serve on a jury for fear of retribution. Is this what we want around us? There are no facilties for them, no jobs, no buses (which the governement say travellers?? need. Why are they not set on the outskirts of Luton or Bedford where there are these facitlies and the opportunity to work and trade. We have to pay our dues to society, it does not matter who is considered an ethnic minority, to live in England you have to follow our ways or move to a country which follows your ways. I am not a revolutionary, just somebody who used to be very proud to be British - but then we got Tony and his control freak cronies. It would appear we do live in a dictatorship or at least an autocracy, but definitely not the democracy we were once so proud of.
 
 
Anonymous said:
Responded: Friday, 13 April 2007
I was appalled by the comments Ms Dorries made last night at the meeeting in Flitton. Is it conservative party policy to say that people have no right to live as travellers? Is her solution to force the council to provide houses for them instead, or is she going to recommend that they are all rounded up into concentration camps? I understand that local people are worried about having travellers sites in their village - as I am - but trying to whip up anger and resentment as she did last night was outrageous. Remember, Ms Dorries, that you represent ALL constituents - and that includes those of us who want tolerance and diversity to be part of the 'British way of life' and who were far too intimidated to speak up last night.
 
 
Stuart Fairney said:
Responded: Friday, 13 April 2007
Ah Nadine, you can comply with their rules literally, but not functionally. Why not designate a forest as a gypsy site, making sure it's totally inaccessible to road traffic and so densely wooded there are no pitches or maybe there’s a contaminated land site somewhere, flood planes are nice. Just put up warning signs saying “camp here at your own risk because of asbestos” or some such and hey presto, you’ve complied but no gypsies will ever set foot. A really smart council might put up a sign warning of a possible danger where none existed, or maybe you designate but don’t publicise so no-one really knows where they are, and if someone ploughed the field that was designated a site, well that would make it awfully hard to get a caravan on.
 
 
Philip said:
Responded: Friday, 13 April 2007
This article is as rambling as the travellers - stop pussyfooting around with tales of your youth and tell us what you think. After reading this I haven't a clue what your policy is on the provision of sites for travellers. I presume you are saying that there should be sites for travellers because you don't want just turning up at random locations where there are no facilities, as this might cause degradation to the environment ?
 
 
Anonymous said:
Responded: Friday, 13 April 2007
Great policy - No you can't live in Flitton, but you can live in Luton !! Very logical..
 
 
Bedd Gelert said:
Responded: Friday, 13 April 2007
But what about people who live in hippie communes in Wales ? Or have no home because they are so bloody costly ? Your answer is typical Tory bollocks - work hard, get an education etc etc. Well that is easy if you are one of the landed gentry - but not so easy if you are from the gypsy community.
 
 
Anonymous said:
Responded: Friday, 13 April 2007
Thanks for coming last night. I came to see what our 'suoerstar' looked and sounded like in the flesh. You spoke with such clarity and common sense. You are right, but why are so many people scared to say it these days. Where has freedom of speech gone. I dread havuing the travellers near us. I have been in this situation before. A traveller ran his cat into my husbands. We knew who he was and even which van on the site was his. The policeman was too scared to go on to the site. When he was cautioned, he had no insurance. we don't live in a lawless society, they shouldn't either. Keep up the good work Nadine. I think you won every vote in the hall last night.
 
 
John from Flitwick said:
Responded: Friday, 13 April 2007
Brilliant, as usual. If I had known you were there I would have gone. Half of them would have been there to see you. When was the last time that many people turned out in Flitton? The place is half asleep usualy.
 
 
Anonymous said:
Responded: Friday, 13 April 2007
I understand all you say Nadine, but what do we do with these people who make so many peoplesa lives a misery? Why is it that Bedfordshire has so many, or is this a problem everywhere to the extent it is here.
 
 
Anonymous said:
Responded: Friday, 13 April 2007
Philip, YOu are an arse. How many people do you think knopw their MP as well as we know ours?
 
 
Anonymous said:
Responded: Friday, 13 April 2007
Thanks for coming. Great entrance. Good to know you are on our side and not full of the usual political twaddle
 
 
Anonymous said:
Responded: Friday, 13 April 2007
I was a little shocked at your comments. These people have to live somewhere. We are also a Christian country and should show more compassion to these people.
 
 
Anonymous said:
Responded: Friday, 13 April 2007
Were you on weed when you wrote this? Better to use another term than 'gypsies', they are an ethnic group and have a history of persecution. Best to say 'travelling dwellers' or nomads. But some discussion of the issue at stake would also be welcome!!
 
 
Stan said:
Responded: Friday, 13 April 2007
To be fair to Nadine, the consultation document produced by Mid Beds District Council, March 2007, on this issue is called: 'Gypsy and Traveller Issues and Options, Local Development Framework.' This was based on a circular released by the government.
 
 
Colin d gibbs said:
Responded: Friday, 13 April 2007
Couldn't agree more Nadine,save for if you live in house you just cannot be a traveller.
 
 
Anonymous said:
Responded: Friday, 13 April 2007
Dear Nadine, why don't liberals adopt gypsy children? They are always telling everyone else that they ought to be doing better, so why not start with themselves? As if! Hypocrisy comes to mind.
 
 
Douglas said:
Responded: Friday, 13 April 2007
Nadine, Do not be put of by the Lib Dem Trolls blogging on your site. Brian Golby was there last night. You should have seen his face when everyone cheered you. He looked like he had lost a pound and found a shillin'! Him and the other Lib Dem nutters couldn't get five drunks in a pub to listen to what they have got to say, never mind 500. If you weren't there last night it would have been 50, not 500.Let's hope we see you again soon.
 
 
Anonymous said:
Responded: Friday, 13 April 2007
To Anonymous, second comment in, The reason why you felt intimidated last night is because you were in a minority, a very small minority.We live in a democracy, does that tell you something?
 
 
MikeC - Sandy said:
Responded: Friday, 13 April 2007
Anonymous No 10. Why wont people leave their names? What PC crap you talk. They are gypsies, so why call them nomads? Shall we call you a nomad, because you are just as much one as a gypsy is?
 
 
Margaret Davis said:
Responded: Friday, 13 April 2007
Nadine, You were a star for turning up last night and facing 500 anxious people. Nick did a great job too, he is an excellent parish councillor. You know you have got Flitton in your pocket now, wether you needed it or not. In Pulloxhill you are a legend for saving the school, what's your next trick?
 
 
Irene said:
Responded: Saturday, 14 April 2007
A mixed bag of comments so far!. What's the problem with the term gypsies? They are what they are just as any other group is. My problem is why should any group demand or expect the services paid for by another group unless for some reason such as disablity or age they are unable to contribute. From my experience travellers/gypsies call them what you will, expect services they have no intention of contributing to. I would like everyone to contribute to me, to enable me to live the the life I would like to live, free of all responsibilty and no worries etc., but that quite rightly is not going to happen. I work and pay taxes and accept responsibility for myself and my family and don't expect any subsidy for my choice of lifestyle. So if I want to stop work and paying taxes and be as free as a bird, are all you liberals going to support me? I think not. If you are please let me know and I'll give up all the stress and strain of my job and personal responsibility and live off you asap. And why do people post messages as 'anonymous'? Do you not have the courage to stand up for your convictions? You do not derserve the space your postings take up.
 
 
John said:
Responded: Saturday, 14 April 2007
I guess there's nothing like the threat to house values to bring out the NIMBYs. Too right too.Why should hard working, high taxpaying citizens have to put up with this? Travelling home through Chelternham yesterday evenning along the A40 on the outskirts of town, I passed by what must have been about ten traditional brightly painted wooden 'gypsy' caravans, on the opposite, wide grassed verge, a dozen or so large,mostly piebald horses grazed.A romanticists' picture of a group of travellers no doubt. In reality, today's gypsy is more likely to have a 'chelsea tractor', a flash caravan and a transit type pick up. With the high value of scrap metal, we are again seeing these vehicles on our roads. So with the scrap merchants based in Ampthill, Flitton would be ideal (the 'chelsea tractors' wouldn't look out of place neither).Why don't we hide them in the wood where Center Parcs is destined and let the locals decide which would be the lesser of the two evils.We can't find land to build affordable housing for our nurses,police or firemen, but you can bet your bottom dollar that it will be found for these people.
 
 
Paul in Flitwick said:
Responded: Saturday, 14 April 2007
You could have a nice long linear plot for all of them here between the motorway and railway line and maybe another one between the motorway and substation. Link 1 Or failing that how about all the councils in the area buying up this place for a joint plot? Link 2
 
 
Ali Khan said:
Responded: Saturday, 14 April 2007
The main theme to take out of this is 100% true. If you want to live in this country, you have to assimilate yourself, i.e. sacrifice a few of your hard-worn lifestyles. It is the same for any group of people trying to live anywhere. In Britain, this applies to everyone from the foxhunters, to the Islamic immigrants, to the travellers. I find it incredibly insulting to think that there are people who take the opportunity to live in a country with one of the highest standards of living for granted, and in this case selfishly shun the principles that the general society of Great Britain hold. Personally, I am proud to be British. My grandparents came to this country as Muslims, I still live in this country as a Muslim. But one has to assimilate into the culture provided lest you insult both the host community and the people who sacrificed so much for you to be here. I'm afraid that if you have no right to be an antisocial Muslim in our country, you have no right to be an antisocial traveller either. The funny thing is that neither issue is about the ethics of Islam or 'Gypsy-ism', but rather about people being blindly anti-social albeit in differing degrees.
 
 
Tim said:
Responded: Saturday, 14 April 2007
I think I quite admire those who are prepared to say 'no, we don't conform.' The 'Bitish way'has actually been to accept travellers oer the years, albeit grudgingly. Having some people who don't bring their kids up in the way the state demands etc. is a sign of a free thinking spirit. Of course, in practice, they cause trouble eg litter. But in my experience much local feeling against them is motivted by the natual prejudice people show to those of whom they are ignorant and don't understand. I would rather politicians sought to calm the mob rather than playing up to their base instincts.
 
 
Nadine said:
Responded: Sunday, 15 April 2007
To S Penketh, Would love to acept your comment, however, please check your URL as we can't accept
 
 
Nadine said:
Responded: Sunday, 15 April 2007
To everyone else, Many thanks for posting - if you agree with me or not, it's good to open up the debate, because, after all, that's what democracy is about.
 
 
Anonymous said:
Responded: Sunday, 15 April 2007
Iain Dale has been ambushed by the Labour nasties. Go to Iain Dales diary. He put a link to your site and they have gone nuts! They must think we are thick!!
 
 
Anonymous said:
Responded: Monday, 16 April 2007
I live in Pulloxhill, I like living in Pulloxhill. I have worked hard to earn the right to live in a civilised rural place like Pulloxhill. I have moved through areas of high crime and social shortcomings and don't want this forced on me where I live now. There is nothing here in either of these three rural villages for the "Travellers" apart from them being kept at arms length from our towns and cities. Maybe Mr Prescott would like to accomodate them. There is apparently a mass exodus of civilised people moving away from Great Britain as obviously, under the Blair / Brown / Prescott dictatorship the "great" has paled into insignificance. I am getting close to the point where I have had enough. The fear of my car being vandalised on the drive or my home being at risk of burglary while I am away will be the final straw. It is proven that we have no rights to protect ourselves or our belongings these days. Enough is enough. If I can find somewhere where my skills were in demand, I too am coming close to joining the exodus. Nadine, thank you for attending our meeting last week. You and public pressure are the only means of combatting this issue. You have my vote.
 
 
Anonymous said:
Responded: Monday, 16 April 2007
I also live in Pulloxhill. I agree with everything you said. She already has our vote after the job she did keeping the school open, and she brought David Cameron to the village.There is a lovely picture of David Cameron with the children from the school and Sallie Philips, one of the mums.It makes me want to weep. I feel as though I am being punished for having worked hard and wanting to live in a rural village.Thank you Nadine for going to the meeting. I wasn't there but I believe the news that you were attending flew around like wildfire, and it made the BoS this week.
 
 
Matthew Dear said:
Responded: Wednesday, 18 April 2007
Reading this saddened me, to be honest. I've always been an admirer of both your views and your phenomenal abilities, but this seemed a bolt from the blue. Yes, the new regulations are odious, and I would oppose them utterly for a range of reasons. But the presumption that everybody should conform is worrying - and no less ridiculous or uncomfortable than saying that everybody in my street should drive a Volvo "because that's what people do round here." Needless to say, I'm proud to be a biker. I agree utterly that (a) taxpayers should not be supporting what is a (strange) lifestyle choice, and (b) that those who do make such a choice should not be allowed to inconvenience others or upset their quality of life (as they often do). But I would defend to the death travellers' right, per se, to live the life they choose. I'm a Conservative because I believe in a Britain of freedoms, and this is a freedom I must stick my neck out and defend.
 
 
 
Contact Nadine
Nadine Dorries MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
via e-mail at: nadine.dorries.mp@parliament.uk
or Telephone on 020 7219 5928

 
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