Anyone who knows me will be aware that I despise violence. I’ve also always felt that vandalism and sabotage are regretfully negative ways to approach any problem. But I’m beginning to understand why people might resort to destroying things when they feel they have no alternative.
Take the island’s fishing community. They have just been told that they have been earning too much money from fishing (yes, really!) and that they should be happy to pay more than twenty five times as much to get their fish processed for market by the new fish processing business. They may no longer be able to make a living.
However patently ridiculous this may be, what can they do about it?
They can’t just give up fishing. Apart from the money they have invested in their businesses, our economy (if that’s the right word) is such that jobs for Saints are few and far between. Unless you are one of the privileged few you face what we all face – prices keep going up (including, it would appear, the price of fish, on which so many families depend) and incomes do not. You cannot simply find another career.
The Governor certainly isn’t going to do anything to fix it because he is the one who concocted this great fishing sell-off in the first place.
Most of our current councillors are not interested in the problems of the fishing community. Some of them are behind the outrageous arrangement that has created this problem; most of the rest are too busy sucking up to the Governor so that they will get their BEMs and OBEs; the few who might speak out are in the minority and get ignored.
The staff at the FCDO in London don’t care what happens here. As long as the Governor keeps telling them everything is under control (which he doubtless does, even if it isn’t) they are happy to ignore what’s actually going on down here.
Complaining in the local media does no good. People read it; people agree it’s wrong; but nobody actually does anything about it. Protesting on Social Media has exactly the same lack-of-effect. The UK press is too focussed on Covid-19, Brexit and who’s going to win Come Dancing to care what happens in a place that half their punters couldn’t find on a world map.
Someone could organise a protest march, but we all know from recent experience that such events generate a lot of noise but no actual change.
We know a petition is useless. 1,191 signatures for the last one was deemed “not a significant number” (although, apparently, 336 votes was enough to implement the new governance system).
What else can you do?
I can neither advocate nor support anyone resorting to vandalism or sabotage, but if somebody does now do something destructive it would not surprise me in the least. The saboteurs might argue “What else can we do?” – a question I would find hard to answer. Looking at what makes news in the second decade of the 21st century it could certainly be concluded that the only way to get anybody’s attention is to destroy things.
I hope it doesn’t happen but I can’t be certain that it won’t. I’m saddened that St Helena has been brought to this.