Dosta, Grinta, Enough

You don’t often see horses on the grass in Parliament Square these days, though the odd mounted police officer rides past (and occasionally a troop of them will charge protesters) and I think the Queen still gets her post by a small horse-drawn coach which daily rattles past, and herself appears in a rather more ornate vehicle on special occasions. But while the horse-drawn vehicles brought to the square by Roma, Travellers and Gypsies as a part of their ‘Dosta, Grinta, Enough!’ protest, are very much a part of our heritage, they were not welcomed by the Mayor’s ‘Heritage Wardens’, cut-price security officers who police the bylaws here and in Trafalgar Square.

Eventually they were told the horses had to leave the grass to people, and instead they made a number of circuits of the square, followed by protesters on foot, effectively holding up but not entirely stopping traffic. Eventually the real police got fed up with this and warned them that they would think up some offence they could stick on them, though I’m not quite sure what that could be, but the travellers didn’t want to do anything illegal and drove away down Millbank while the protest continued in Parliament Square.

Life on the road has become increasingly difficult for these people, with more and more bylaws and restrictive legislation. Recently local authorities have been allowed to stop providing sites for them, and even where they own land – as at Dale Farm – they have not been allowed to stay on it.  Planning laws are used against them in a discriminatory fashion – and that site now seems likely to be developed as a housing estate despite the travellers having been evicted at huge expense because it was a part of the ‘green belt’.

It’s hard to argue against their conviction that the changes being made by the Government to the  Gypsy and Traveller planning guidance and other actions are an attack on their ethnicity and way of life. There has been a long history of persecution of the Roma and other travellers in this country, and there some changes to a more civilised attitude in the last  century which these new attitudes have reversed. More pictures at Dosta, Grinta, Enough!

Earlier in the day I had covered two other protests, with Foil Vedanta protesting inside the Royal Festival Hall against Vedanta sponsoring the Jaipur Literary Festival attempting to enhance its extremely blemished reputation through support of the arts, and the latest in a series of actions to get the Chancellor to implement his promise to remove the VAT on tampons and related products – pictures at Tampon tax now Osbourne!

But I still had another protest to cover – and will write about it in a later post.


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My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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