On the Sunday Politics show yesterday Labour’s Tessa Jowell admitted that her party’s proposed three year tenancies are voluntary. Tenants will be able to ‘negotiate’ a three year contract but landlords will be under no obligation to provide one.
What a fucking joke, and one that shows the Labour Party are every bit as out of touch as the chinless toffs they pretend to oppose. According to one property firm there are currently 5 tenants chasing each private rental property on the market across the UK and in London that jumps to 8 people desperately competing for every home. If Jowell thinks that tenants have any bargaining power at all when the odds are so heavily stacked against them then she is living in a dream world – or at least a world where she doesn’t ever have to worry about having no home.
When one of our most basic human needs, like a securing a place to live, is an impossibility for millions of people then society has broken down. Every measure of homelessness is rising whilst those in both the private and social rented sector are facing eye-watering rent increases. Private sector tenants can be evicted on a whim by landlords with just two month’s notice. There will be no homes at all for the millions of children growing up in London and other larger cities where housing demand is at its greatest.
It is in this context that upmarket estate agents Foxtons getting their windows stoved in at Saturday’s Reclaim Brixton protest should be viewed. This was not an act of mindless violence as some sections of the media have claimed. Nobody got hurt. Foxtons was closed for the day in case anybody was worrying about estate agents cowering behind their desks as their office was ransacked – as if anyone would worry about that. This was a fucking intervention. Few things are more symbolic of a housing market designed for profit, not people, than the leeches at Foxtons.
Thousands of people were out onto the streets in Brixton on Saturday for one of London’s biggest ever anti-gentrification protests. At one point hundreds of people mobbed the town hall with many fighting past police lines to gain entrance to the building. Traffic was brought to a standstill as people danced in the streets to a soundsystem taking over the road for several hours. A march through Brixton led by London Black Revs was received with cheers and applause as it passed the railway arches where long standing local businesses have just been told they face closure. Brixton Village, once a well loved part of Brixton Market and now an ethnically cleansed yuppy dominated enclave of over-priced bars and restaurants, was briefly occupied. Even the police station was attacked. And the Jobcentre got their window broken.
The mood was angry and defiant, but positive. Reclaim Brixton followed the hugely successful March for the Homeless just two weeks ago and the mass action at the vile Property Developer’s awards last week. At every housing protest the number of people attending is growing. London has had enough.
One of the reasons that London’s housing market has turned into a licence to print money for the global super rich is that the city has what investors judge to be a favourable political climate towards the very wealthy. Clowns like Boris have welcomed the influx of luxury developments with open arms. London’s paper, the Evening Standard fawns over the rich, running pieces on divorce settlements amongst Chelsea millionaires or banker’s boardroom squabbles as if they were real proper news. Two-bit confidence tricksters peddling get rich quick schemes like Grant Shapps are hailed as wealth creators by their fellow politicians. And Labour’s bogus housing policies show that should they be elected then it will still be business as usual for the corporate vandals ransacking the capital.
But the mood is changing. People are fucking sick of the rich and they are starting to show it. What happened in Brixton – and is happening on estates across London where tenants are taking direct action to protect their homes – is just the beginning. When people have little left to lose they will fight fucking hard. Be ready, and be out on the streets, because political change can happen in a heartbeat.
Class War are holding a Fuck Parade on mayday in protest at the Poor Doors in the luxury tower block at 1 Commercial Street London E1. Please spread the word and join/share the facebook page.
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