Tag Archives: boris

Kosovo Begins, The Social Cleansing of London

This month families and claimants in London will receive notices explaining that their Housing Benefit payments are to be capped at levels far below their current rent. This will force tens of thousands of people, many with children, into homelessness and poverty as properties across vast swathes of London will be taken out of reach of the low waged, disabled people, pensioners and the unemployed.

It is difficult to understate the devastation this will cause to some of the most vulnerable people in the capital. Even those living in inner city areas earning enough not to need Housing Benefit will not remain untouched.

From the middle of the month if you are made redundant then you are very likely to lose your home as the welfare state will no longer provide enough money to enable you to pay your rent. If you become sick or disabled and are no longer able to work the same will apply. Even many ‘young professionals’ are unlikely to have the necessary savings to cover their rent should they lose their jobs and are unable to find work immediately. Public sector workers may find themselves not just unemployed but facing imminent homelessness should their jobs fall victim to cost cutting.

With little or no Social Housing provision available, even for the most vulnerable, the safety net of the Welfare State has been abolished for the vast majority of Londoners living in the private rented sector.

The tragic irony is that this will mean people being forced to move away from where work is available – a far cry from the traditional Tory appeal that people should get on their bikes to find a job.

Landlords, the true beneficiaries of the £21 Billion a year Housing Benefit bill, are not lowering rents to accommodate the changes as Cameron made up they would. As home ownership becomes an unaffordable dream for ever more Londoners, rents are predictably soaring. Whilst the Housing Benefits Caps drive low waged workers and claimants to the outskirts of London, increased demand means rents will rise even in the few remaining affordable parts of the capital. The boroughs not affected by the caps will see Housing Benefit costs soar, whilst Inner London Councils are set to be swamped with homelessness applications. The social costs will be devastating for already struggling Local Authorities as tens of thousands of claimants, pensioners, disabled people and low income families are forcibly relocated into the Outer London boroughs.

People forced to move will not just have their lives uprooted, they may well find there is nowhere to move to. ‘No DSS’ has been a demand of the vast majority of landlords in London for some time. Already benefit claimants and the low waged are often forced to lie about their financial circumstances to prospective landlords in order to be able to secure accommodation. The huge deposits demanded by landlords have long been a driver of homelessness in London. The bare minimum just to secure a tenancy usually involves paying a month’s rent as a deposit plus another month’s rent in advance. Even for properties with rents far below the levels of the Housing Benefit caps this means benefit claimants forced to move will face a bill of up to £2000 before any further expenses incurred in moving. Securing a new home away from central London is just not going to be financially possible for many people.

Housing Benefit has long been a crude sticking plaster which has mitigated the impact of the short sighted and unsustainable market driven housing policies the UK has suffered from for 30 years. Even the so called ‘affordable’ housing being built is unaffordable for most working class people. The mass sell off of council housing, which began under Thatcher, was continued by Labour, and is being escalated by Cameron, resulted in government housing subsidies increasingly falling into the pockets of private landlords rather than being invested in developing genuinely affordable housing provision. The result was a chronic shortage of housing for those on low incomes. Unlike many European countries with large private rented sectors, in the UK tenant’s rights were diminished and rent controls abolished. Buy to Let mortgages quickly became a way to make a quick buck as the housing shortage grew and rents rocketed.

In some parts of the country rents soared to such an excessive levels that Housing Benefit was forced to pick up the slack, not just for pensioners and benefit claimants but also for those on low, or (in London) even average salaries. This crude attempt to mitigate the insanity of the housing market has led to anomalies. At one extreme people this has meant people sleeping in doorways as they are unable to pay a deposit to get them on the rented property ladder, at the other a handful of landlords have received huge housing benefit payments for renting out modest properties to families in expensive areas. Even Housing Benefit has not prevented the hundreds of thousands of ‘hidden homeless’, sleeping on friends floors, in squats, B&Bs, hostels or night shelters.

The answer to these problems of course is a huge increase in the provision of social housing, made available at a ‘living rent’ with secure tenancies. There are few private tenants who would not exchange in a heartbeat their over-priced, low-security shoe box for good quality Council accommodation. Once again social housing, which often makes a profit for local authorities, would no longer be seen as a hand out, but a valid, secure and respectable choice for working class people. In the meantime rent controls could curb some of the excesses of parasitic landlords.

Of course Cameron is doing the exact opposite. Social Housing is to be gradually eroded, council rents are to be forced up to unaffordable market levels and the idea of a home for life is being abandoned. With high rents and no security of tenure then it is reasonable to ask what is the point of social housing?

The system is so fucked that even Boris can see the upcoming social disaster. Describing the Housing Benefit Caps as Kosovo Style ethnic cleansing he has pledged “On my watch you are not going to see thousands of families evicted from the place where they have always been living and where they have put down roots” and then proceeded to do fuck all about it. Meanwhile Ken makes vague noises about rent controls which he won’t be able to enforce even if he is elected.

The housing crisis is a systemic problem – the result of the free market run rampant. The housing benefit changes will remove close to one million homes from the reach of people on low incomes and cause unprecedented levels of homelessness. Unlike the US, trailer parks and cardboard cities are not welcome here – the recent violent eviction of the Dale Farm community is testament to that. The question is where are the poor supposed to go?

Lobby of Parliament to oppose the Welfare Reform Bill & benefit caps


Boris’ bite can’t match his bark

The Glorious People’s Rebublic of Croydon are set to be the testing ground for the new dictat to eminate from City Hall. So called libertarian, Boris Johnson, is to continue his authoritarian tyranny by banning sales of alcohol to those under 21.

Alongside with the rulebook on stop and search being thrown out the window and banning booze on the tube this is the chinless one stepping outside of his remit once again. Boris shows the Tories up for what they really are, a power hungry clique of toffs desperate to establish their own little fiefdoms.

They talk of small Government right up until they are Government, when it all gets too much and their natural dictatorial nature takes hold.  Boris is turning out to be a fine example of this.

The Mayor’s office is largely to do with finance and planning; that and to be a public figure to represent the city. Since Boris can scarcely be allowed out in public he’s failed miserably at that.

And as for planning and budget control, well apart from the odd bung to his pals in Porsche and making sure the chaps are looked after, it’s all a bit boring for Boris. He’d far rather be larging it up touting some new law, the Great Leader on high delivering his latest string of petty rules to govern the inner-city hordes.

Fortunately his powers don’t extend to personally deciding the law of the land on a personal whim. Therefore none of these things actually are laws. You can’t be prosecuted for drinking on the Tube, just asked to leave. And of course it doesn’t apply to the overground lines because it wouldn’t do to upset the Claret-slurpers in First Class.

As for the rise in stop and search encouraged by Boris, we can only presume most of these searches are illegal, or on the edge of legality. It doesn’t require much encouragement for the London Met to act like a bunch of crooks but the sus-laws are not back no matter what Boris might like to think.

If the Police have reasonable suspician that someone is carrying a weapon or drugs then they will stop them. If they haven’t been doing that then they haven’t been doing their jobs. So calling for a rise in stop and search is either ackowledging that or asking the old bill to act illegally, which they quite like.

As for banning alcohol sales to under 21 year olds, this is not a law either. This is simply a voluntary scheme which local off-licences can sign up to and then completely ignore. Which they will.

This all represents the true nature of Cameron’s Conservative Party. Brash and authoritarian by nature, but flimsy, crooked and vague in practice.

Luckily Boris hasn’t got enough time to implement a five year plan.

Boris Rebrands Rise to the Right

Entertaining and prolific blog The Tory Troll (which we suspect might be written by Ken clutching a bottle of scotch at his keyboard in the early hours) beat us to the story about Boris dropping the anti-racist message from this year’s Rise Festival.

The good news is that the festival appears to be happening and with Jimmy Cliff and the Dub Pistols on the bill it will hopefully be a good one. Although after the fences and the crush at Stokefest and the booze ban at the Love Music Hate Racism Carnival it will be interesting to see what the cops/council/GLA manage to do to fuck up this event.

It’s also been reported that the Cuban Solidarity Campaign, who have long organised a stage, will be dropped from the event. London’s new ‘arts boss’ Munira Mirza told the group in a letter that “it is no longer appropriate to have overtly political organisations involved in the programme or in the community area”.

So Boris wants to kick the politics out of art. With his recent fantasy about unearthing the River Fleet and other bumbling utterances it seems Boris would quite like to kick the politics out of city hall as well.

There’s actually a good reason for this festival to have an anti-racist agenda from a purely practical perspective. The festival has long been financially supported by Trade Unions with both performers and staff working at cheaper (or free) rates than they would for a non-political event.

This is unlikely to continue, it also raises the spectre of whather the greedy pigs in the Met will decide, as it’s not longer a political event, to charge for their time, as they do at footy matches etc.

So the outcome is that this festival will now cost a lot more. Which is why we’d bet good money on it disappearing for good after this year.

Talking of festivals, we’ve just added a handful of new events to the free festy listings including the news that scene legends Tofu Love Frogs will be at Tottenham Marshes this Sunday!

Middle Classes Turn on Boris

In scenes which would have made the Bullingdon Club proud, last night’s jolly japes on the tube got a bit messy after the British Transport Police began closing stations before stopping the two trains containing most of the party goers at Edgeware Road Station.

Tensions flared briefly outside the station after police drew batons and a slight scuffle almost broke out, but in reality the well dressed hordes, pissed as they were, seemed reluctant to be drawn into violence.

Whilst not what you’d call a political event the chants of ‘Boris is a wanker!’ echoed around the Circle Line showing how even well to do Londoners feel about having the chinless one hijack our city.

Attempts to get the crowd singing ‘Harry Roberts’ didn’t go down quite so well.

Reports of trashed tube carriages are an over-exaggeration on the part of a strangely absent media, the reality being a lot of litter and a few ads ripped down.

The revolution did not start here.

Apparantly things had got a bit livelier around Liverpool Street, which we didn’t see, but one hardy soul told us it was the closest he’d seen to a riot in London for years. Perhaps it’s fitting that the first signs of unrest should come from Boris’ natural constituency, expect more and far worse over the next four years as his economic policies start to bite.

Meanwhile most people seemed resolute in their intention to completely ignore this daft new law (which isn’t even a law) that tube workers say is unenforceable.

Last Orders on the Underground!

Well it’s a shame that they didn’t have the guts to organise this when the tube booze ban was actually in force but we’ll give it a plug anyway.

Not that they need it with almost 7000 people thinking of attending on this facebook site already.

So for the last chance to have a legal piss up on the tube meet at Liverpool Street Station this Saturday at 9pm (clockwise, rear of train).

The interesting thing about this event is the general chinless wonderlessness of some of the organisers who are quick to stress it’s not a protest.  It’s all very jolly and middle class which leads us to wonder how many of them were in fact Boris voters.

Some seem to have been suckered in Boris’ faux libertarian stance, but the Tories don’t do libertarianism, not really.

Unless of course it’s the liberty of the bosses to fuck over and exploit the working class.


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