In the past week, the Labour Party has launched its Labour Against the Bedroom Tax campaign nationwide, with its roots in Liverpool. It’s the usual Labour Party fare; sign a petition, display a poster.
It offers no support for real action by tenants themselves and instead expects them to allow the Labour Party to lead them around by the nose. Meetings were called across the country without any contact being made with tenants groups or already existing campaigns.
The local Labour stooges in Liverpool can’t have failed to notice the momentum behind the Combat the Bedroom Tax campaign, a grassroots organization set up by tenants and their supporters following a mass meeting in the city in January. Indeed, the logo Labour’s campaign initially used was remarkably similar to one already in use by the grassroots campaign.
When the local Labour hierarchy were questioned by campaigners on their motivation for Labour Against the Bedroom Tax, why they had not bothered to contact the local campaign already in existence and where their logo came from, the party began deleting posts and banning people from their Facebook pages.
Their own post on their campaign Facebook page says it all really.
This is a cynical attempt by the Labour Party to capitalize on the anger and frustration of social housing tenants in order to score a few “progressive” brownie points and win some votes at the next election.
Liverpool Mutual Homes, a Liverpool housing association, has been complicit in the bedroom tax fiasco, only offering a token dissenting opinion after their city centre offices were occupied by angry tenants a couple of weeks ago. They admit that people who can’t afford to pay the bedroom tax will be evicted from their homes. Two Labour councillors sit on the board of LMH, Irene Rainey and Sharon Sullivan. How do they square their position on the LMH board and LMH’s eviction policy with their party’s “opposition” to a bedroom tax for which their party helped pave the way?
Liverpool mayor and class-traitor extraordinaire Joe Anderson continues to bang on about building new housing stock by 2015, including 5000 new “affordable” homes. But what does “affordable” actually mean? The government defines affordable housing as housing that is let at 80% of market rent. Under the government’s new Affordable Rent scheme, new or re-let social housing stock can be let for up to 80% of the average market rent. According to housing charity Shelter, 44% of social housing tenants have a household income of under £10,000 a year. If this new “affordable” stock is let at 80% of market rent, a social housing tenant will need to be earning over £12,000 a year to be able to afford a studio apartment, just under £15,000 for a one-bed property, £18,000 for a two-bed property, almost £19,000 for a three-bed property and upwards of £24,000 for four or more bedrooms. So who is this new “affordable” housing stock affordable for?
In the north-west, average social housing rent in 2010 was £68.46 a week. The average market rent per week for a one-bed property in Liverpool is around £110. When housing authorities are allowed to charge 80% of market rent, the average rent for these new “affordable” properties will increase to around £88 per week. Clearly, new “affordable” housing stock will be much more expensive than the currently existing stock at a time when both benefits and wages are under sustained attack. Social housing tenants forced to move to this affordable stock because of the bedroom tax could face having to pay more total rent than before they were forced to move.
The Labour Party, by attempting to bypass the tenant-led campaigns in the city and censoring and banning tenants who point this out to them on their social media pages are making clear their contempt for social housing tenants as well as the real motive behind Labour Against the Bedroom Tax. Their campaign has no validity as long as they see themselves as leaders of tenants rather than allies of tenants and I’m sure this will be made clear to them over the coming weeks and months as tenants begin to feel the bite of the bedroom tax while the Labour Party does what it does best and abandons the working class to the wolves.
I live in a Housing
I live in a Housing Association house. They've already been ringing tenants to ask about occupancy. I've no doubt they'll be happily booting people out. They think we're all a bunch of spivs too ineffectual to devote our lives to financing a mortgage. I'm a teacher, my wife's a nurse - typical social incompetents. I'm not naming them, though, because my tenancy agreement has a gagging clause. Interested campaigners can follow my trail and figure it out!
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.
The LP campaign is rightly
The LP campaign is rightly exposed here, though the conclusion in it's reference to ''....as long as they see themselves....'' etc suggests they might have, or could have had, a way of genuinely defending working class interests and could have played a more positive role if they had involved existing tenants groups which gives them more credibillity than they are due.
I'm not sure what the situation is with Liverpool but in Manchester many tenants groups (though often including genuine people) are very much tied into the local government Labour Party machine and far from independent (where they are not the plaything of other opposition politicians).
Bear in mind also that the 'rental convergence' policy referred to in this blog was the Labour governments doing and that the 'affordable' definition of housing isn't even restricted to social rented housing but can include various types of sharred ownership and other types of partially subsidised 'owner occupation'.
The local labour government machine has a long history of using it's resources to incorporate and emasculate a whole variety of intially independent responses to the attacks launched on workers by central governments of all political pursuasions.
Joe Anderson is not so much a 'class traitor' as a long standing 'class enemy'
I agree with pretty much
I agree with pretty much everything you say. But the post was written in the knowledge that there was no chance whatsoever of any alternative from Labour. I'm planning a follow-up post that looks at the last government's role in the bedroom tax saga.
Spikymike wrote: I'm not sure
The "tenant led campaigns" and such referred to in the OP aren't so much existing official tenant groups like residents associations. In Liverpool, surprisingly well attended public meeting gave rise to local anti-bedroom tax groups being formed, with tenants directly affected being at the centre of things, these are the tenants' groups referred to in the OP. These groups are fairly informal (arranged largely around Facebook groups and local meetings) and are focussed on organising action of various sorts. As far as I'm concerned this is exactly what we should be doing in the community and that's why Labour trying to recuperate it is a serious worry.
Thanks for that important
Thanks for that important clarification madashell which is certainly encouraging - look forward to some updates. It would be useful to know if any similar more independent organisation is emmerging elswhere around this or other locally imposed attacks on social housing and other 'benefits' etc.
Quote: Hands Off Our Homes is
Kirkby rent strike, St. Pancras rent strike, 'regeneration' projects, so on and so forth.
Spikymike wrote: I'm not sure
This is not entirely true. In the Redbricks estate of Hulme, where I'm at, as a group opposing the bedroom tax we have no desire to work with nor previous affiliation with the LP and refuse any. In fact, there is a surprisingly large anarchist presence in it.
We'll see what other groups are like in the next few days I guess though!
Great article and cracking responses. Cheers.