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Britain's Landed Elite, Backed by Money Earned Through Slavery, Are Using Migrants as Scapegoats

By Andrew Butler / filmsforaction.org
Aug 10, 2015
4.8 ·
8
Britain's Landed Elite, Backed by Money Earned Through Slavery, Are Using Migrants as Scapegoats

This is Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax, a Conservative Member of Parliament for South Dorset. He lives in Charborough House (pictured above) on his the family’s 7,000 acre estate, surrounded by one of the longest walls in England, featuring massive arched gateways, one topped with a lion and one with a stag.

Richard Drax is firmly part of England’s landed gentry and ruling elite. Much of his wealth can be traced back to sugar plantations in Barbados, established by his ancestor James Drax, who was integral to establishing both the sugar and slave industries in the Caribbean. Records compiled by University College London show that in 1836, after the abolition of slavery and as part of a massive government compensation package, the Drax family were paid £4,293 (the equivalent of around £3million today) in compensation for the loss of their “property” - the 189 slaves owned by the family and made to work on their sugar plantation. Despite calls for reparations, slaves and their decendents have never recieved compensation.

Ancient history, you might say. Yet Richard Drax owes his privileged position to generations of exploitation and the appropriation of lives and resources by his family. So how does he use his privilege? In a county where a handful of families own and control tens of thousands of acres of land, in a region where up to a quarter of houses are second homes, in a country with more than 600,000 empty homes; Richard Drax uses his position to take aim at immigrants by saying “this country is full”.

He wants to restrict those allowed into the UK to those “with money in a bank account” because, at the end of the day, to people like Drax your value as a human being is only equal to your net worth.

Drax is not unique. Much of Britain's elite ruling class made their wealth on the backs of others, others who they now blame for Britain’s problems. Aided and abetted by their friends in the media, they point the finger of blame toward Calais and the mediterranean, and while people are distracted they continue to siphon wealth and resources from the rest of us.


Further reading: 5 Things You Can Do To Help Refugees Right Now

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“Independent media is dangerous because it allows people to speak for themselves. And when you hear someone speaking from their own experience - whether it's a Palestinian child or an Israeli grandmother or an uncle in Afghanistan or a refugee in the Calais refugee camp - it changes you. It breaks the sound barrier. It challenges the stereotypes and the caricatures that fuel the hate groups. You may not agree with what you hear - I mean, how often do we even agree with our family members? - but you begin to understand where they're coming from. That understanding is the beginning of peace. I really do think that the media can be the greatest force for peace on Earth. Instead, all too often, it is wielded as a weapon of war. We have to take the media back.” - Amy Goodman, Place to B at COP21