How the fuck is a child supposed to understand why they don’t have a home? These are kids who see their parents going out to work long hours for shit wages, or battling illness, or struggling to find work. They see a parent who loves them, cares for them, feeds them – who does all the things that a parent is supposed to do – and yet that is not enough. The most basic form of human security, even survival, is now fast becoming something only the affluent can afford in many parts of the UK.
Almost every day seems to bring another story of low income families being forced from their homes to make way for luxury flats, as property developers turn the ground we walk on into a chance for them to increase their millions. And if anyone complains than the rich simply call on the machinery of the state – coppers, courts and bailiffs – to enforce their so-called property rights with unfeeling violence. Kids have no reference point for this kind of behaviour. They are taught to share and look after each other. There could hardly be a worse preparation for the realities of cut-throat capitalism.
Not one of the main political parties gives a shit about the desperate shortage of genuinely affordable housing. Most MPs care far more about their own property portfolios than they do about their homeless constituents. None of them have ever had to explain to their children why they have to move far away from their schools, friends and families, only to be placed in yet more temporary housing, sometimes in a different city, to await their next forced relocation.
The video above tells the story of children currently being socially cleansed from their homes on the Sweets Way estate in Barnet (ht @IzzyKoksal). These are not families that were living in luxury central London homes. Barnet is a suburb, so far from the centre of London that the aristocratic local MP Theresa Villiers used our money to help her buy a second home nearer Parliament. This was a quiet and modest estate where people had lived for over five years. Now they face eviction, with some offered temporary properties as far away as Birmingham and others abandoned by the council completely.
One of the empty flats on the estate was occupied over the weekend as the tenants mount a fightback against this demolition of both their homes and their lives. Similar struggles are emerging across London and they are winning. We are only powerless when we play by their rules. Occupations and collective action, legal or otherwise, are the only tools we have. Fuck the law, fuck the bailiffs and fuck the rich they serve. This is our city. Let’s take it back.
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