Here’s a story which was doing the rounds last week:
It was an unusually heavy response to a fight in a school canteen: a police helicopter, police dog and 15 police vehicles all rushed to Fir Vale Academy in Page Hall, Sheffield, one Tuesday in late September.
The drama, inevitably, was caught on camera. The screaming in the dinner hall, children climbing on tables to escape. Outside, a teenage girl in handcuffs, face-down on a police car; the man in a tracksuit being mauled by a police dog. A pupil had texted false talk of a knife fight, and parents had been trying to scale the fence to reach the school.
So what was it all about?
[T]he fight had begun when a Roma girl pulled off the headscarf of a Muslim classmate.
An incident which didn’t come out of a clear blue sky:
Angry Fir Vale parents – most Pakistanis, no Roma – shouted at a panel of wincing white council workers about “them”. Their new Roma neighbours. “David Blunkett was right!” yelled one man. “This is a ticking time bomb. If it goes off, you’re going to need the army.”
They refused to see the hijab incident as an isolated scrap between teenage girls. “This is not just a school issue… This is ready to blow up. Bang,” warned one man. “We’ve lived here 35, 40 years and you expect us to sit silently,” said another, claiming that he had 60 cousins ready to provide back-up for what he said could be “a riot like you’ve never seen before in your life”.
I was late to this story, but a lively discussion took place in the comments at Tim Worstall’s, which is worth reading. There are a few things going on here. Firstly, I very much doubt the people are Roma in the commonly understood sense; more likely they’ll be people who until last week were called “travellers”, fifteen years ago “gypsies”, and by nearly everyone in private, even now, “pikeys”. I grew up around communities of gypsies and they were indistinguishable in ethnicity from the locals. But at some point during the Blair years someone realised that classifying them as a different race made a whole new victim group on which public sector careers could be made; you have to do something with all these new social studies graduates, after all. So now a run-of-the-mill British gypsy alongside whose brethren I used to pick spuds and stack straw now belongs to a protected class.
Only on the other side of the battle lines we have another protected class, whose status was so assured that men in the very same locality were permitted to systematically gang-rape underage girls while the police looked on and did nothing. (Incidentally, if I were to guess, I’d say the number of gypsy girls these men abused was precisely nil). So having designated as protected classes two maladjusted, poorly integrated groups thus putting them beyond the bounds of even mild criticism on pain of imprisonment, what happens when they start fighting each other? Well, I don’t know because until now no government in history has been stupid enough to run such an experiment, but we can take a guess.
Firstly, the Pakistanis are more numerous: that chap wasn’t joking when he said he had 60 cousins, and even if some of them are in a village outside Lahore, they can become British citizens and over there in a jiffy. The gypsies maintain large families, but they don’t have an entire nation on which to draw reserves. Secondly, Pakistanis are darker skinned. Gypsies aren’t exactly blonde haired and blue eyed, but even the obese creature with green hair in charge of social inclusion at the local council is going to be hard pressed to deny categorising them as a separate ethnic group was a little fanciful. Particularly so if they’re lined up opposite a bunch of fellows who’d look pretty handy with ball in hand on 22 yards of short-cut grass. Thirdly, Pakistanis are Muslim, and have lobbying power which would make an oil executive kick a barrel out of pure jealousy. By contrast, the gypsies are members of a lesser religion – or perhaps none at all, it doesn’t matter. When designated victim groups have clashed before, it is always those of the one true faith who prevail, and it will be the same this time around.
So the authorities will hold frantic meetings in the Nelson Mandela – Salvadore Allende conference rooms in the local town halls, during which they’ll wrack their brains to come up with a way to blame this on Tommy Robinson. But in the end they’ll be forced to conclude that the gypsies are white after all, and racist to boot. Until they turn up on the common of a middle class village, anyway.