When Larkin came upon Coventry that time (as is immortalised in the poem), he was reminded that his childhood was not remarkable. These days, however, a child’s experience of Cov (as we call it from neighbouring town, Dav – imagine, then, the Warwicks/Northants accent) is a whole different ball game for the starving offspring of the seemingly huge immigrant population there.
What was going on at the inner city Coventry primary school that had Daily Mail readers up in arms? I am still not clear about it, even as I attempt to summarise. Food packages had to be dished out for certain families of children at Frederick Bird primary school after staff became aware of their dire need because parents were not providing packed lunches. Apparently, they were “mostly migrants” who were protesting about not being able to receive benefits.
Here is the killer detail: “The parents had been employed locally but their contracts had run out. Consequently, their benefits were stopped”. More about that in a second.
Looking for other detail, I found a local paper, but I get the feeling that the Coventry Telegraph was being a bit culture/race sensitive, and was no help for the purpose for which I sought it out. Indeed, it was vague at the most significant moments in its narrative. It did corroborate the bits in the Mail about how some parents were seasonal workers whose contracts had ended, so their working benefits ran out (tax credit, etc). They didn’t realise that they were eligible for other benefits (JSA, etc) and therefore that their children would qualify for school meals. There was nothing about a demonstration in the Coventry paper, quite the contrary in fact. The immigrants weren’t up in arms, but only had little money to live on (join the bloody club), and the language pointed to their obvious victimhood: “The extent of their plight only came to light when their children returned to school.”
The Coventry Telegraph may have been embarrassed or reluctant, but not so the Mail. Apparently, for two weeks kids were sent to school with nothing to eat. Teachers made lunches and dipped into school funds before the parents were referred to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
The numbers involved are the astonishing thing. The Mail says the families of 150 children at the school were given vouchers, the Telegraph says it was 150 people with children at the school. Nobody seems to know how many families in total, but one family – if I read it correctly – consisted of eleven members. Ofsted reported in March 2011 that 680 pupils were on the roll, which means one way or another, the school is chock-full of “mostly migrants”.
What this story does in the first instance is give an unintended glimpse into the real picture in the UK of the relationship between immigration and the economy. I was shocked to realise the consequences of how migrant workers could now claim tax credits and the like. The purpose of the influx of foreign “slave-wage” labour was manifold (I write about it regularly) but mainly it was to keep wage levels low. This objective was attainable because migrant workers would not have the same expectations or living cost requirements as the British, who in turn, would not be able to compete for the same low wage jobs (the myth about how Britons do not want to work is corporate-government propaganda). The migrant workers would be a self-sustaining profit making corporate asset, and more higher wage demanding, democratically sophisticated Britons who were well-versed in their rights would be forced into dependency on the State.
But lo and behold, all of a sudden the migrant workers cannot afford to live in Britain either – obviously because they all have children who go to school and want to be clothed and wotnot. It means that the British tax payers will be stripped further and faster of their wealth by subsidising the foreign “bad job” labour force which is here to keep other British on the dole.
So, there is that appalling aspect being revealed through this story. Another one is the clear possibility that in broad daylight British schools are not dedicating all the time they can to your child (whose parents have paid in to the system) because they are teaching English to the children of people who are not supposed to be here. Well, it would only be an extension of their mission to destroy British culture and intellect, so we shouldn’t be surprised.
The key to getting to the bottom of the matter is identifying where the “seasonal workers” of this case could have come from. Unfortunately, there is just not enough detail to do this (and I imagine for a very good reason). One thing is for sure, none of the parents could be British because our countrymen have learnt about claiming the “Rock’n’Roll” at school, and therefore there would be no ignorance about eligibility. The Mail reported that most of the “seasonal workers” were Eastern Europeans, but this doesn’t make sense either. Would Eastern Europeans really be ignorant of their unemployment benefits? Neither the Daily Mail nor the Coventry Telegraph reveal any other origins. We do know that some of the parents did not get awarded unemployment benefits. This might explain why they wouldn’t have liked to have come forward.
Here is an actual break down of the population of the Frederick Bird school given in the Ofsted report, and I have to say that to me it is shocking. I cannot remember Coventry being so dramatically diverse as it is now; almost to a point of being alien to me. You might not be surprised to hear, I suppose, that the school somehow managed to get mostly 1s and 2s from the inspectors (1 being outstanding, and 2 being good).
Frederick Bird is a larger than average Primary school. Eighty two per cent of pupils are from minority ethnic backgrounds, well above the national average, and the proportion of pupils who speak English as an additional language is also very high, with a significant proportion at an early stage of learning English. Forty four different languages are spoken at the school. The largest ethnic groups are from Bangladeshi and African heritage and a growing number of eastern European pupils have joined the school in recent years, with a significant proportion being of Gypsy Roma heritage. The proportion of pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities is above average. The proportion of pupils known to be eligible for free school meals is over twice the national average. Pupil mobility is very high. Twenty eight per cent of the 2010 Year 6 cohort arrived during Key Stage 2 and a significant proportion of these were unable to speak any English on arrival. A daily breakfast club is provided. The school has Healthy Schools status.
Perhaps a vital clue to exactly who these “seasonal workers” are was given in the same Coventry Telegraph story when it reminded its readers that recently it had reported there were 1500 “destitute” people in the city. Tracing this lead, and wondering why it was mentioned in association, I discovered that it is largely to do with asylum seekers and migrant refugees who “have either been refused benefits or are afraid to make themselves known to the authorities”.
If “seasonal workers” with children in Coventry schools are the “destitute”, then are they also “asylum seekers” and “migrant refugees”? Please correct me if I am wrong, but I thought asylum seekers were not allowed to work, and therefore are these people actually illegal economic migrants? What was all that stuff about “coordinated protest” that the Mail was hinting at? Did we have an episode of organized illegal worker blackmail perpetrated upon the authorities in Coventry which has all been hushed up? If so, when things start to really hurt for everyone, are we going to see more immigrant-bloc demand-making, and how are the “indigenous” starving – and I include in that group people like my old Sikh-origin mate’s family who are local to the area – going to react to that? Is it a pattern that is going to emerge across the country?
Well, that’s all speculation. For the moment, imagine the shock of the manager at the Coventry Foodbank Charity who could not believe that there was “third-world deprivation in a first-world country”. It’s pretty much where we are at, and it was designed. Many more are in for a shock, I think.