Focus E15 campaigner, Saskia writes:
With the imminent implementation of the Housing Bill, Focus E15 Campaign has been reviewing and asking what this legislation means for the growing housing movement.
What is clear from the hours spent at our weekly street stall in East London is that a lot of people do not know what this bill is about. This should not come as a great shock because our experience with key housing information is that the media, local councils and the government cover up the realities of this manufactured crisis in housing -after all to be educated is to be free, right? If the public truly knew and recognised the amount of homes lying empty in their street, borough and country, how long would the propaganda about the need to build more homes, but not being able to due to austerity, really stand up?
The question is how does the housing movement move forward with a deliberately uninformed public as the most draconian housing legislation in recent British history gets pushed through parliament? Of course our job is to inform people, but what else can we do to convince people to take the action that is needed to repel this bill, boost the housing movement and put the working class on the front foot in the historical fight for suitable housing? We need civil disobedience and a refusal to cooperate with this daylight robbery. We need those forced with massive council rent hikes to refuse to pay them, to be prepared to stand in front of the state in the courts, and to win.
Recently at our bimonthly campaign meeting, we had an excellent presentation about a study looking at the similarities between our campaign and the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (the mothers of the disappeared children in the 70s and 80s in Argentina). We heard that mothers first challenged the ‘problem’ – by writing letters, complaining to MPs and local representatives and it was when this process failed that the mothers, in both campaigns, became politicised. Also, significantly, in both struggles there were political activists and others working in the campaign from the start, (some affected by the issues directly, some not) who were ready to give their support -which in turn gave political confidence to the mothers. This helped to give these campaigns their weight, strength and longevity – the Argentinian mothers continue to fight to this day.
Those that attend the march on the 30th January should be this political weight in the coming period. When the ‘solutions’ the working class are offered fail – then we can be sure 2016 will be the year of unrest the housing movement needs.
The Housing and Planning Bill 2015 will put an end to the possibility of decent housing for all; it will see the end of council housing and social housing, while encouraging an unregulated corrupt private rental sector.More and more people will be forced into overcrowded, damp, unsafe housing, taking Britain back to the conditions of over 70 years ago, before the modern welfare state was developed.
We must get together and fight for the right to decent, affordable, secure housing.
Join the Focus E15 campaign on the march to Kill the Housing Bill which is being called for by Lambeth Housing Activists on Saturday January 30th.
Start from Imperial War Museum 12pm ( SE1 6HZ)
March to Cameron’s publicly funded home in Downing Street for 2pm.