If you want a picture of where Conservatives of all stripes are taking Britain, picture this.
A Roma woman, “Tanja”, whose family arrived in Britain illegally, is in a room of the Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre, a block of bland modern buildings in the Bedfordshire countryside surrounded with barbed wire.
According to Tanja’s account, a male guard locks the door. He pulls out his earpiece, perhaps to make sure he is not disturbed, and after some initial touching, he pushes his penis in her face. He laughs when he ejaculates in her mouth – so confident is he that he can escape punishment. As Mark Townsend reports in today’s Observer, her allegations are not exceptional. One officer is alleged to have had sexual contact with four women. And there may be others we know nothing about.
Put yourself in Tanja’s shoes and you will understand why something like this might happen. Take an isolated young woman, locked up in a detention centre, run for the British state by Serco, a private company that has built its profits by taking over public services. The corporate guards confine her and can punish her. One starts thrusting himself on her. What does she do? She could think that she has to go along with him or he’ll put her on the next plane out. Or she could believe that if she does what she is told she will be in a relationship with an Englishman and that somehow this “affair” (if that is not too romantic a word) will allow her to stay in the country.