Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Ambiguity on Humber

When it was proposed to open a hostel for asylum seekers in Grimsby, a local Curate went to one of the public meetings. At it, she mentioned that the Chief Constable had said that potential residents were more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators of it. Afterwards, one of the protesters said to her ‘I thought you were supposed to be on our side’.

I’ve mentioned her story quite often since. Sometimes it is to illustrate a conviction that, if we have to pick sides, we are suppose to be on the side of the marginalised and of truth. Sometimes, more basically, it is to illustrate a conviction that this sort of engagement in the communities we serve is where we’re called to be.

But I find I simply don’t have a handle on the protests about foreign workers which I first saw in blog comments about the Tioxide closure in this parish and which then erupted publically at the Lindsey Oil Refinery further up the Humber estuary. I think this is because I don’t have an objective authority like the Chief Constable to help me identify who the marginalised really are in this situation and where exactly the truth lies.

It seems absurd that, despite close attention to the media, I don't know whether or not the contract was awarded abroad only because cheap labour enabled a lower bid. I don't know how many people unemployed locally have the skills for the job. I don't know how many British workers are employed abroad as a result of similar contarcting processes.

So I don’t think I’ll be posting or preaching my own naive take on the situation, instead just a little lamely trying to keep the situation in the public prayers in our churches; living with an awareness of ambiguity, an awareness that things are more complicated than fixed opinions make them seem, is another part of the human calling about which I tell stories equally often.

Meanwhile, the photograph taken at the weekend is of some sort of inspection platform in the Humber itself. It appears that it can be towed by sea-going tugs while floating on the hull of the platform and then the legs let down when it is in position.

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