Tories bring back Penal Transportation?

Penal transportation to Australia from Great Britain began in 1787, and was used as a punishment for minor offences at a time when you could be hanged for stealing a sheep. It came to an end in the 1860s, but our current Home Secretary Teresa May is reviving the punishment for Trenton Oldfield, born in Australia but who has lived and worked in this country for all his adult life.

He could have got away with stealing a sheep, but for a peaceful protest that pointed out the elitist nature of British society, as well as being handed out an over the top sentence of six months (the jury had asked the judge to be lenient, and the probation officer had recommended a non-custodial sentence) he has now been told by the Home Office that his continued presence in Britain would not be “conducive to the public good” and completely ridiculously that he is a threat to national security.

John Pilger, quoted in The Guardian, where you can read more about this, said that the home secretary’s stance was ridiculous. “He is not a criminal or a terrorist. He was a protester acting on principle, whether or not you agreed with his action. What the Home Office is really saying is that all forms of protest are now potentially criminalised.”

The Guardian is running a poll on whether Trenton should be deported.  As well as voting in this, you can sign a petition to stop the deportation on This Is Not a Gateway, and another at

Teresa May perhaps sees the deportation of Oldfield as a way of making up for her continuing failure to deport Abu Hamza.  I’m sure she sees Oldfield as an easy target that will get a few cheers from the right wing some of whom who would like to deport or imprison all protesters, wherever they were born.  But his and his partner’s work through Myrdle Court Press and This Is Not A Gateway have contributed greatly to cultural life in this country – an important  contribution to the ‘public good’, a cultural asset we cannot afford to lose.

I hope the campaign to keep Trenton here succeeds, but should he be forced to leave the country, perhaps the deportation of people for peaceful protest is at least one government policy that the Labour party can give a pledge to reverse.

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