Posts Tagged ‘Affordable Housing’

Alt Right Hack Milo Yiannopolis Heads Off to America, No-One in UK Bothered

January 20, 2019

Here’s another piece of cheering news for those on the Left. Milo Yiannopolis, a leading figure in the Alt Right, has declared that he’s leaving these shores and applying for asylum in America. Why? because he’s a gay man, and does not feel safe in an Islamized Britain. Or at least this is what he’s told the American right-wing Front Page magazine. According to Zelo Street’s article about this world-shattering event, Yiannopolis went on

“In 2015, I wrote the column that secured my place in the pantheon of Right-wing hate figures: ‘I’m A Gay Man And Mass Muslim Immigration Terrifies Me.’ Shortly afterwards, I left London, disturbed by the state of my capital city and hoping that with a megaphone in America I could sound the alarm about European Islamization”.

Like the rest of us, Zelo Street doesn’t remotely accept his claim that Britain has been Islamized, saying that they blinked and missed it. They also call bullsh*t on his tale that he left Blighty for America to warn them about the threat of Islam. The truth was that Yiannopolis was hired by Steve Bannon for the extreme right-wing news organization, Breitbart. They also pour scorn on his claim that he’s a member of any pantheon, on the grounds that he simply isn’t important enough to be one. And this same reason applies to his other claim, that despite being married to an American, he’s applying for asylum because, as a gay man, so many people want him dead. And so he goes on about friends of his having been assaulted by Bangladeshis in public parks simply for letting their dogs void their bowels. In east London, he says, you can’t buy booze after a certain time because it will cause the Muslim minority to start a letter writing campaign against anyone selling alcohol. A Muslim minority, he says, who are disproportionately unemployed and living in affordable housing paid for by the taxpayer. He also claims that

“Muslims with extreme, hateful views about gays and horrible opinions about women would be an irritant and not a menace but for the fact that they are routinely insulated from criticism by a politically-correct media elite that scoffs whenever you mention the appalling social problems that spring up, as night follows day, whenever the area hits a certain percentage of Islamic residents”.

Zelo Street is skeptical about these claims as well, noting that he gives no corroborating proof of Bangladeshi Muslims attacking people, nor that there are any Muslim letter-writing campaigns against shops selling alcohol. The commenters on this piece are also highly skeptical about Islam being the sole reason his unnamed friends have been met with anger because of their dogs. Many people get angry when dogs foul the pavement or public parks, not just Muslims. They also have met with zero problems while buying alcohol from Muslim owned shops. A couple of comments say that if Yiannopolis can’t buy booze after a certain time, it’s because of Lloyd George and the licensing laws than angry Muslims. Also, some of those shopkeeper rightly want to go to bed at 11 O’clock. As for living at taxpayer’s expense in ‘affordable housing’, well, no, they’re not. Affordable housing is not social housing.

Yiannopolis also rants about shariah courts and parallel justice systems, which also don’t exist. He also says that he looks forward to Tommy Robinson, formerly of the EDL and Pegida UK, and his ‘army of brave lads to topple the government and close the border themselves’. Zelo Streets says of this statement that it makes grifters heroic. Which is absolutely true. Robinson, unfortunately, has very many fans and followers, but they’re hardly so many that they’re a threat to democracy by organizing a coup or close the border on their own. And Robinson himself is a grifter. According to a recent hang-out between Kevin Logan and Mike Stuchbery, Robinson is raking in about 900,000 pounds a year in donations from his followers, and his house in Luton reflects that. He is not a poor soldier battling valiantly with limited funds against the well-funded hordes of Islam. The Zelo Street article concludes that Yiannopolis’ piece is a ‘crock of crap’, and that Yiannopolis himself wants a drip-feed of money, if only to pay the lawyer for his asylum claim.

See: http://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/01/milo-yiannopoulos-leaving-uk-for-good.html

In fact, Zelo Street is entirely correct in calling Yiannopolis’ article a pile of ordure. I doubt very much if it is militant, intolerant Muslims forcing him to live to leave London and Blighty. The real reason is that Yiannopolis is spectacularly broke. A week or so ago he released a video on the Net from Australia laughing at the fact that he was not 2 million pounds or dollars in debt, as people were claiming but four million.

Well, if he is broke, it’s all his own fault. For a moment it did look as if he was going to be a major figure politically, until he spectacularly managed to torpedo his career with some very disturbing remarks he made on the Joe Rogan Experience, an internet news discussion show.

Yiannopolis is a half-Jewish gay man, whose husband is Black. There’s nothing wrong with that, but he uses his identity as a shield to deny accusations of prejudice when he makes racist, bigoted comments about Blacks, gays and women and feminism. He can’t be prejudiced, the line runs, because he’s gay and attracted to Black men. He’s just telling the truth, which Liberals are determined to silence through accusations of racism and homophobia. As a controversialist for the Alt Right, he was becoming increasingly popular. The other year he launched a tour of American college campuses entitled his ‘Dangerous Faggot’ tour. Obviously and unsurprisingly, this was also met with protests from college feminists and anti-racist protesters. He was so popular that he was offered a very lucrative book deal by the right-wing imprint of Simon and Schuster.

This collapsed with the rest of his career as a political pundit, after he made comments justifying, or appearing to justify, paedophilia on the Joe Rogan show. Milo said that he had been molested when he was 14 by a Roman Catholic priest. However, the priest, who he refused to name, was not the instigator of the relationship. He claimed instead that it had been him, as he was desperate to provoke outrage through relationships with older, adult men. He then went on to claim that such relationships with older men helped gay boys come to terms with their sexuality.

Rogan and his co-host were, like the rest of us, not impressed. They called it was it was: child-abuse. Or at least that’s what it was over in America. They didn’t know about Britain. Well, we can reassure them on that point. It’s called paedophilia over here, where it is also illegal. Yiannopolis also claimed that he had been on boat parties in Hollywood where ‘young boys, very young boys’ were there as prostitutes. He would not, however, say how young, nor who the Hollywood personalities using them were. Commenting on this part of the interview, Kevin Logan stated that it made him feel cold wondering how young these boys were, if Yiannopolis himself was 13 or 14 when he was molested by the priest.

This stopped Yiannopolis’ burgeoning career cold. Simon and Schuster withdrew their promise to publish his book. He had been invited to attend C-SPAN, the big American Conservative gathering. This was also withdrawn. He also found himself sacked from Breitbart, although he claims that he resigned. Apparently several of the staff objected to working with him, and said that they’d leave if he didn’t.

Yiannopolis then made a public apology, stating that he now realized that he was the victim of child abuse. He also denied that his comments support the abuse of children, claiming that gays use the word ‘boy’ to describe other gay men, and he was sorry for not being more careful about using the word to a heterosexual audience, who would not grasp its meaning within gay culture. Kevin Logan, commenting on this part of is apology, stated that Yiannopolis wasn’t telling the truth, as he had clearly talked about ‘boys’, meaning precisely ‘boys’, not adult men.

Yiannopolis had also gone to Australia this winter to do a speaking tour there. This too, however, was a failure, as no-one turned up. And so it seems very much to me that Yiannopolis is leaving the country, not because he’s afraid of homophobic Muslims, but because he’s dead broke and thinks that he might be able to salvage something of his career amongst the American Far Right.

Sweary male feminist and anti-racist vlogger, Kevin Logan, made this video about the collapse of Yiannopolis’ career, which includes clips from the Joe Rogan video.

In another video, Logan says that he was keen to ask Yiannopolis if he had ever acted on his conviction that sex with underage boys was beneficial. Because if he had, then he should just go to the nearest police station and hand himself in. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons he’s really leaving London. Other people have also found out about his vile comments, and don’t want him around. Logan himself doesn’t have much sympathy for Yiannopolis’ treatment after he made his vile remarks on the Joe Rogan show either, despite Yiannopolis recognition that he was a victim of child abuse. This was for the simple reason that Yiannopolis had himself made it abundantly clear that he didn’t care about his opponents’ feelings either, even when they were a woman, who had been raped.

And Yiannopolis is another person, who has exploited his fans and followers for his own greed. When he was touring America, he announced he was setting up a fund to provide money for young white men to go to university, and appealed for donations. It was part of his attack on ‘political correctness’ and affirmative action to get more underprivileged Blacks in higher education. Except that it wasn’t. Yiannopolis didn’t set up a separate account, and all the donations went directly to his normal bank account. To date there have been no disbursements. It all looks very much like it was just another money-making scam.

Yiannopolis’ departure across the Atlantic is not that of a persecuted gay man fleeing Muslim persecution in a Britain overrun and dominated by militant Islam. It’s simply a far right propagandist going to try to get rich again after wrecking his career with vile and disgusting comments about the sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

Zelo Street is right that few people here know about him, or care that he’s going. And given his squalid views and behavior, this country has lost zilch from his departure.

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Pop Against the Tories: Cabinet of Millionaires’ ‘Theresa May’

December 26, 2018

Thanks to everyone, who liked my post wishing them a happy Christmas, and for all the messages of peace and goodwill. Greatly appreciated! I hope you all had a great Christmas Day, and are enjoying the season’s festivities. And now I’m going to ruin it by talking about politics!

On Monday Mike put up a piece reporting a pop song he believes should be the real Christmas number one, rather than Ladbaby’s ‘piece of tat’ ‘We Built this City on Sausage Roll’. This was ‘Theresa May’ by Cabinet of Millionaires. While Ladbaby’s song is just a piece of jolly holiday froth, ‘Theresa May’ is a bitter attack on the current Prime Minister for the massive poverty she had caused, her warmongering and the privatization of the NHS. And the band’s name is obviously making a point about the extremely rich background of the members of her cabinet.

Mike’s put their video up on his channel. This shows a homeless man trudging from place to place with a puppet of the Prime Minister. He puts up a card saying simply ‘Theresa May – Private Dancer – Will Dance for Money’, and then jiggles the marionette around. The sign’s clearly a reference to Tina Turner’s classic ‘Private Dancer’, but also to her amoral, mercenary politics. She’s only interested in enriching herself and her followers. The lyrics are simple but angry, attacking her for ‘selling arms for illegal wars’ and ‘selling the NHS’. Both of which are absolutely true.

The video also shows some, but obviously not all, of the hardship faced by the homeless. The character sits against the wall, huddling in his padded coat and blanket with another homeless man, as they’re ignored by the people around them walking pass. Or worse. Another man walks up to a piece of wall next to him and urinates against it, to his obvious discomfort and disgust. The film ends with the character finally giving up trying to get money with the puppet. He throws it in the bin and moves on.

As we should with the real May. Homelessness has increased massively under Tweezer by something like 127% and 459 rough sleepers have died on the streets. One of those was Hungarian fellow, whose patch was just outside parliament. The man had a job, but couldn’t afford accommodation. Which is the reality all too many face, thanks to the Tories refusal to build more homes and their attack on council housing. Building firms have been caught building less than the number of affordable homes that need to be built, and the term ‘affordable’ itself can be misleading. It’s defined as something like 80 per cent of the normal price of houses in an area. This means that the affordable homes in an area of expensive housing may be anything but.

And the Tories really don’t want to build more housing, because house prices have been tied into general economic performance. More homes means that the market forces Maggie worshiped will make house prices fall, and so the economy will take another hit. Quite apart from the fact that it will leave many people in negative equity – in other words, their houses will be worth less than they paid for it – and it could undercut the buy to let industry which the Tories and right-wing rags like the Heil did so much to encourage.

The result of this is that there are 300,000 people, who are technically homeless, living in bed and breakfasts, hostels or on friends’ sofas, as well as whole generation of young students, who will never be able to afford their own home.

This is the way the Thatcherite dream of a home-owning democracy has died.

And then there’s May’s privatization of the health service, which is destroying it for the corporate profit of the private health firms and insurance companies, Which is also killing people.

May’s not quite responsible for illegal wars – Blair and Cameron started that, but she’s continuing them, so that brave men and women are being killed, not for any reasons of national safety, but purely so that multinational corporations can once again loot their countries and particularly their oil.

Cabinet of Millionaires’ song musically is good, tuneful pop. It follows a series of musical attacks on the Tories, such as ‘Liar, Liar’, which was about May’s persistent lying, and ‘Nicky Morgan’s Eyes’. This last was by a group of teachers sending up the former education secretary and her wretched policies towards schools.

Thatcherism died long ago. It is now zombie economics, pushed and supported by an exploitative, profiteering industrial elite and lying media establishment. It’s time it was ended.

Get Tweezer and the Tories out, and Corbyn in!

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/12/25/should-this-be-the-real-christmas-number-one/

An Argument for a Mixed Economy Supporting Welfare Services from Martian SF

November 6, 2018

Yesterday I blogged about a passage in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Blue Mars, in which one of the future colonists of the Red Planet at a constitutional congress advocates the transformation of businesses into worker owned co-operatives against a supporter of free enterprise capitalism. The Martians have also been supplementing standard capitalist economics with a gift economy similar to that used by some indigenous cultures today. One of the other delegates at the congress objects to part of the character’s proposals on the grounds that they would be moving away from this part of their economy as well. Vlad Taneev, the character advocating the co-operatives, responds thus.

Vlad shook his head impatiently. ‘I believe in the underground economy, I assure you, but it has always been a mixed economy. Pure gift exchange co-existed with a monetary exchange, in which neoclassical market rationality, that is to say the profit mechanism, was bracketed and contained by society to direct it to serve higher values, such as justice and freedom. Economic rationality is simply not the highest value. It is a tool to calculate costs and benefits, only one part of large equation concerning human welfare. The larger equation is called a mixed economy, and that is what we are constructing here. We are proposing a complex system, with public and private spheres of economic activity. It may be that we ask people to give, throughout their lives, about a year of their work to the public good, as in Switzerland’s national service. That labour pool, plus taxes on private co-ops for use of the land and its resources, will enable us to guarantee the so-called social rights we have been discussing – housing, health care, food, education – things that should not be at the mercy of market rationality. Because la salute no si paga, as the Italian workers used to say. Health is not for sale!’ (p. 149).

To the objection that this will leave nothing to the market, Vlad replies

‘No no no,’ Vlad said, waving at Antar more irritably than ever. ‘The market will always exist. It is the mechanism by which things and services are exchanged. Competition to provide the best product at the best price, this is inevitable and healthy. But on Mars it will be directed by society in a more active way. There will be not-for-profit status to vital life support matters, and then the freest part of the market will be directed away from the basics of existence towards non-essentials, where venture enterprises can be undertaken by worker-owned co-ops, who will be free to try what they like. When the basics are secured and when the workers own their own businesses, why not? It is the process of creation we are talking about.’ (pp. 149-50).

A few paragraphs later the character also urges the creation of strong environmental courts, perhaps as part of the constitutional court, which would estimate the costs to the environment of economic activities, and help to co-ordinate plans impacting the environment. This is based on a clause in the Dorsa Brevia document, the initial constitutional agreement on which the Martians draw in their attempts to formulate a full constitution. This clause states that the land, air and water of Mars belong to no-one, and they are merely its stewards for later generations. (p. 150).

As I said in my previous piece about the fictional economics of this future Mars, it’s refreshing to see an SF writer proposing a form of socialist economics, when so many other SF writers advocated those of libertarian capitalism, like Robert A. Heinlein.

Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t promised complete industrial democracy, but he does intend to give a measure of it to workers in firms with over a certain number of employees, as well as restoring union and other workers’ rights.

As for combining competition with socialism, the 19th century socialist, Louis Blanc, who believed that the state should combat unemployment by setting up state-funded worker’s co-ops, which would then use their profits to buy up the rest of industry, said that it was like combining eunuchs with hermaphrodites. But as it is set out here, it could work.

And we definitely need for housing and health care to be taken out of free market economics. The sale of council houses to private landlords and management corporations, and the Tories’ ban on any more being built, has contributed immensely to the homelessness crisis now afflicting Britain. For all that the building companies are supposed to build a certain number of ‘affordable housing’, in very many cases the majority of homes built are for the top end of the market with only the minimum number of homes for people on modest incomes being built.

And the privatization of the health service has created a massive crisis in healthcare in this country. And it is done with the deliberate, but very carefully unstated intention of forcing people to take out private healthcare insurance as part of the process towards full privatization.

It’s time this was halted, utterly and forever. And only Corbyn can be trusted to do this, as New Labour were as keen on the idea as the Tories.

And the Italian workers’ slogan is excellent: La salute non si paga – ‘Health is not for sale’. This should be our slogan too, printed on leaflets, on placards and T-Shirts and made very clear, every time we protest against the Tories and their privatization of modern Britain’s greatest achievement.

Hope Not Hate Critiques UKIP’s Claim that London Housing Crisis Caused by EU Migrants

March 8, 2016

Rachel O’Hara has posted a very good rebuttal of the Kippers’ claims that London’s housing shortage has been caused by migrants due to the EU’s ‘Open Doors’ policy over at the site of the anti-racism and anti-religious extremism organisation, Hope Not Hate.

The Kippers released a party political broadcast on Wednesday for their candidate for mayor of London, Peter Whittle. At the end of the broadcast, which concentrates on London’s housing shortage, Farage’s voice comes on to claim that the population is going up by a third of a million each year, all due to the EU’s open borders policy. O’Hara gives the details on the actual migration figures, and shows that migration from the EU only accounts for 172,000 people. The other 151,000 came from outside the EU.

She goes on to argue that London’s housing shortage is due not to immigration, but to the international rich buying homes as investments, which then remain empty. This just increases demand and pushes prices up even further. She also notes that the biggest increase in London’s population is due to migration from India. She concludes

It is NOT our border controls that are causing the housing crisis in London but the encouragement of foreign capital employed for trophy property investments, the lack of investment in social housing and the buy to let scheme.

Go read the full article at: http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/ukip/xxxxxxxxxx-4778

Social Exclusion in Inter-War Council Housing

March 7, 2016

A number of left-wing bloggers, including the indefatigable Johnny Void, have called attention to the social cleansing in the government’s housing policy. Apart from there being a general shortage of housing, those homes that are built are mainly luxury properties aimed at the very middle and upper class. The ‘affordable homes’ that some builders put up may not actually be very affordable. What the government defines as affordable is a price set at 80 per cent of the market value. That can still put a home well out of the pockets of most working people, depending on the area. As a result, areas are being gentrified and the traditional, working and lower-middle class occupants of those areas pushed further out of their homes as these areas go upmarket. London is the most notorious example, where house prices are going far beyond the ability of any but the very rich to pay.

Yet this was also a feature of some of the council housing development put up between the two World Wars. Eric Hopkins in his book, The Rise and Decline of the English Working Classes 1918-1990: A Social History (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson 1991) says on page 23:

Undoubtedly council estates were an enormous improvement in simple physical terms on slum property, but they were by no means the complete answer to problems of working class housing. The most widespread complaint was that the rents were too high for the poorest class of tenant; and indeed it was a deliberate policy on the part of some councils to keep rents at a level which only the skilled or semi-skilled could affor4d, so that the first generation of council tenants should set a good tone. The result was that the poorest, living in the worst slums, who needed rehousing most were left where they were. Only later on would councils rehouse the unemployed and provide rent subsidies when required.

Cameron and his predecessors in New Labour have done everything they could to bring back the worst aspects of pre-War Britain.

Vox Political on the Tory MP Who Claims He Cannot Afford a Mortgage

February 14, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political last week post a piece on the sad case of the Tory MP for Stockport, William Wragg. Wragg had appeared in the Guardian complaining that his MP’s salary of £74,000 was too small for him to afford to buy a house, and so he had moved back in with his parents. The Graun was not impressed by this claim, pointing out that in his constituency there were flats available for rent for as little as £110 a week. See http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/02/10/tory-mp-forced-back-to-live-with-parents-by-high-house-prices-he-claims/.

Nick, one Mike’s commenters, said

You need a income of £75000 a year to secure a loan of £300’000 so if he avoids London he should be able to manage it

Having said that a bank would not give him a mortgage as his job is classed as insecure as a mp and he would have to provide professional qualifications as a fall back like lawyer etc to secure that type of loan

This is what I believe to be accurate at this time of writing. A genuine loan today is only advanced to those that have on paper a better then average chance of paying the loan back within the 25 year time frame on a scale of 3 times a single salary and 4 times a joint salary plus a 10 percent deposit.

This looks to me like another Tory attempt to ingratiate itself with the very public who’ve been hit hardest by their policies by claiming, ‘Oh, look, it’s affecting us too! We’re all in it together!’

Except we’re not. Young Master Wragg does have enough money to afford a place of his own, depending on where he chooses to live. Very many others aren’t so lucky. Furthermore, any sympathy people may have for him should be weighed against the fact that Wragg is one of those responsible for the mess.

I am very definitely not sneering at people, who go back to live with their parents. It’s happening to a whole generation, both here and in the rest of Europe. In Italy, for example, it’s actually quite common for young people to live with their parents until their mid 30s because of the difficulty in getting suitable housing. Many of the young people, who are forced to move back in with their parents are graduates. Saddled with enormous student debts and faced with a lack of affordable housing, they frequently have no choice but to go back home to Mum and Dad.

Wragg’s whining follows a story a few weeks ago in the Torygraph, about a very middle class couple, who were also complaining that they could not afford houses in London. They got the same amount of sympathy, for pretty much the same reasons. It was the middle classes whining about poverty in the same newspaper, that had showed precious little sympathy when prices started rising and the working poor couldn’t afford roofs over their heads.

And Wragg’s party are the root cause of this. Way back in the 1990s, Maggie Thatcher removed the limits on mortgages. Up till then, banks would only lend a maximum of seven times a person’s income. Older people can remember that the process of getting a mortgage was long, complicated, and featured earnest interrogations with one’s bank manager. This was too much for Maggie, bursting with enthusiasm for Hayekian free trade and monetarism. It was regulation strangling free enterprise. So she got rid of the limits. The result has been that the cost of mortgages has shot up to the point where large numbers of the population cannot afford them.

Other factors contributing to the rise include the growth of the ‘buy to let’ market. Among those boosting this were the usual Tory suspects, the Daily Heil. This has always been fixated on mortgages and the interests of the small investor, and so Viscount Rothermere’s and Paul Dacre’s esteemed organ should share some of the blame for inflated house prices. The situation has also been affected by higher executive salaries vastly surpassing everyone else’s, to the point where they and only they can afford to live in parts of the country like London, and the purchase of properties in the capital by foreigners, especially multimillionaire Chinese, simply as investments without any intention actually to live there.

And so Wragg has found himself slightly affected by the policies his party has inflicted on everyone else. If he had any decency or recognition of the ultimate origins of this crisis, or indeed any genuine sympathy with the other victims, who are in far worse need than him, he would protest against the legislation that has caused this. He would also be opposed to Osbo’s proposed legislation, which will do nothing to increase the amount of available housing, but simply create another housing bubble.

But I doubt that he ever will. Wragg is, after all, a Tory, and a presumably looking to Cameron and Osborne to help his career, a career that could get cut very short if he defies them. And I’ve no doubt that as a member of the middle classes, he fully supports the gentrification programmes that have seen working and lower middle class people evicted from their homes, which have then been pulled down, or converted into luxury flats.

And I also don’t think he’s uttered a peep about the Tory policies that have meant that the number of affordable homes are being cut, and those that remain are, at 80 per cent of the market price, hardly affordable.

But hey, he’s had to move back in with his parents. So he’s just like us. We’re all in it together … except we’re not.

Protest in Bristol Later this Month against the Privatisation of the NHS

April 10, 2015

Yesterday I put up a piece about protest being organised for Saturday in Bristol outside the main office of the estate agents CJ Hole in Southville. This is to protest against a letter Hole sent to the landlords in Bristol advising them to increase their profits by raising the rents. Bristol, like London, has a homelessness problem and a lack of affordable housing. This is just sheer greed, and the exploitation of human misery.

The internet petitioning group 38 Degrees is also organisation a day of action in Bristol for the 25th April. They will be at the main entrance of the branch of ASDA at East Street in Bedminster, under the arcade from 11 am for an hour or two collecting signatures and talking to people about contacting their MPs to stop the further destruction of the NHS under the Tories.

Protests Against Estate Agent CJ Hole in Bristol This Saturday

April 9, 2015

This Saturday, the 11th April, there’s due to be a demonstration by the tenants’ rights group, ACORN, and members of the on-line petitioning group, 38 Degrees, outside the Southville branch of the Bristol estate agent, CJ Hole. The demonstration’s organiser, Nathan Williams, organised a petition on 38 degrees against the estate agent after it sent letters to local landlords asking them if they were receiving enough rent and advising them they could raise them even further.

He explained in the petition that

An estate agent in Bristol called CJ Hole has been sending out letters to its landlord clients asking “Are you getting enough rent?” and “How do you get more rent?”

The letter they are sending to landlords explains that “with rents increasing every week in Bristol, it is highly likely your property is due a rent increase.” It goes on to say that “the demand from tenants is far exceeding the number of available properties and we have never seen such a buoyant rental market.”

It doesn’t once mention the rights of tenants.

The letter shows how some estate agents and landlords are seeking to cynically profit from the housing crisis in Bristol at a time when inflation has declined to 0.3% and deflation is predicted. I think there is no justification for increasing rents at a time when prices are actually going down. In addition, real average earnings have fallen by 8% since 2008.

Such predatory rental practices are an attack on low income people and threaten the most basic of rights – the security of a home to live in.

Bristol’s housing supply has been described by an official report as “in crisis.” In 2013 just 60 affordable homes were built across Bristol.

According to Williams, the petition has so far been signed by 11,400 + people, and the figure is still rising. The boss of five of the CJ Hole branches in Bristol has also denounced the letter. The estate agent is trying to combat this negative publicity by hiring a PR firm.

Mr Williams further explains

We must make sure this petition is just the start of a campaign to stop bad estate agent practice and advance fairer tenants’ rights. The stories signatories told of extortionate rent increases, huge fees, withheld deposits and poor accommodation were all too common. So please get involved this Saturday, check out ACORN, question your MP candidates about their plans for tenants’ rights, vote, and help fight for a fairer future.

The purpose of the demonstration is to force the estate agent to sign the Ethical Lettings Charter. This requires landlords and letting agents to commit to providing accommodation which positively supports the lives of tenants, with an accreditation system reflecting the level of commitment made. In fairness, a number of landlords have already signed up to the charter. More information is available at https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/acornbristol/pages/62/attachments/original/1425338034/Bristol_Ethical_Lettings_Charter_Final_-_Email_Version.pdf?1425338034

The demonstration is due to begin at 11.00 am.

Further information on rent campaigns or ACORN is available from Nathan Williams at nathan@newcommunciations.co.uk and Nick Ballard at nick.ballard@acorncommunities.org.uk.

Further information on ACORN is at http://www.acorncommunities.org.uk/.

Updates on this and other future campaigns will be tweeted on Action On Rent and ACORN @Action_On_Rent and @ACORN_tweets.

I’m unable to go to these demonstrations, but I wish them every success. There’s a real problem with housing in Bristol and house prices in some parts of the city are comparable to London. They’re so high that local people are unable to afford them.

About four or five years ago now, the archaeology department at Bristol Uni organised a dig on one of the traffic islands used by homeless people in Bristol. This innovative exploration of a pressing issue was organised jointly by Paul Schofield, a leading British archaeologist, and a former archaeological student at the university. She was annoyed at the way Bristol’s working class environment was being closed down and destroyed in order to develop luxury housing for the rich.

With rents and mortgages so high in the city, it is wicked that CJ Hole should be advising their landlord clients to raise their rents even further.

Huff Post on Kipper Throwing Strop at Bristol Uni on Any Questions

March 1, 2015

Radio 4’s political debate programme, Any Questions on Friday was at Bristol Uni. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s the radio equivalent of BBC 1’s Question Time. A different panel of politicians appear at various locations up and down the country each week, and are asked questions by the audience. On the panel this last week was David Coburn, a UKIP MEP. Coburn’s odd in that he’s openly gay, yet opposes same-sex marriage. He’s accused its supporters as ‘equality Nazis’. Which is weird, considering that the Nazis most certainly did not favour equality, and were very firmly against male homosexuality. During the Third Reich gay men were sent to the concentration camps, and identified with a pink triangle on their camp uniform. It’s quite bizarre, considering that in the bio that was sent to the audience, he described himself as ‘a big, screaming poof’.

The Huffington Post’s article, Ukip MEP David Coburn Got Slow Hand-Clapped So Called BBC Audience Names, reports how the students were definitely not impressed by Coburn’s remarks about immigrants pricing British people out of the housing market. So they started to give him the slow handclap. This enraged Coburn, and he started ranting about how the audience was ‘Green’ and full of ‘Lib Dems’. The article begins

Ukip MEP David Coburn appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions programme on Friday evening. He got slow hand-clapped by members of the audience. So he called them names.

Coburn got into a fight with the audience at Bristol University during a discussion about housing. “How would we know how many houses we need? Because we don’t know how many people are coming into the country,” he said, having dismissed the “wind” from Labour’s shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds.

Coburn, Ukip’s MEP from Scotland, said Britain should leave the EU in order to be able to properly understand how many houses needed to be built. Members of the audience then started to loudly slow handclap the MEP.

“This is a blatantly Green [Party] audience,” Coburn shot back, as host Jonathan Dimbleby tried to keep things calm. “Many of these people sitting around here, all very nice bourgeois Greens and whatever and so on and so forth, what about the working man? How can he afford a house if he is competing with open door immigration?”

The article’s at http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/02/27/ukip-mep-david-coburn-was-slow-hand-clapped-by-bbc-audience_n_6772468.html. There’s an audio file with it, so you can hear this broadcasting train wreck for yourself.

Now I don’t know how many people in the audience were Green party members or Lib Dems. I’m sure there were a number, but probably far less than Coburn believes. The Lib Dems have lost a lot of student support, and created a great deal of hostility for themselves on campuses up and down the country through raising tuition fees. I’ve been at conferences on medieval history, where speakers have compared Nick Clegg with some of the Middle Ages most notorious liars and slippery customers. It’s one of the reasons why I believe that Labour’s plan to cut tuition fees from £9,000 down to £6,000 should be a vote-winner.

The party political allegiances of the students there probably wasn’t the only reason they showed their disapproval so audibly. There’s now a global market in education, and people come to British universities from all over the world. And increasingly vice-versa. Brits are now also choosing to study in America, and also at continental universities, such as Paris and Brussels. Many members of the academic staff are also foreign. Among the lecturers at the archaeology and anthropology department at Bristol, for example, were academics from across Europe – Greece, Germany and Portugal. There were also visiting speakers, who gave seminars and lectures to the Arch-Anth Soc (Archaeology and Anthropology Society) from across the world. The students were no less diverse, coming from places like Greece, America, Canada, India and Thailand. This is part of what makes going to uni such an enriching experience. Quite apart from the purely academic study, you get to meet and mix with people from different, often vastly different backgrounds and cultures.

And your own understanding of the world, its immense problems and vast opportunities, is broadened.

With so many in the audience either foreign, or the friends and fellow students of people from outside the UK, it really isn’t surprising that the audience disliked Coburn’s comments so strongly. They are simply narrow and xenophobic. And many of the foreign students are going to find them particularly hollow, as the fees for them were much higher than those for domestic students. They were, however, living in the same halls of residence, and the same types of student accommodation. So they probably didn’t feel that they were pushing house prices up.

Quite apart from the experiences of foreign students and their circumstances, Coburn’s attempt to link it to immigration from the EU, or anywhere else, is quite wrong. There have been cases recorded in the right-wing press, like the Daily Mail, where large numbers of immigrants have placed a strain on available stocks of council housing. However, the root cause of the lack of affordable housing is because the incomes of the very rich have increased far beyond those of the working and lower middle class, regardless of ethnicity or immigrant status. Not enough houses have been built, and since Thatcher the government has been trying to get rid of council housing. In fact Thatcher expressly forbade any more from being built. As for affordable housing, for many people this is a grim joke. The rents for affordable homes are pegged at 80 per cent of the market rate, which for many people in London still means that they will be unable to afford them. The rich, through their immense wealth, push up property prices, beyond the ability of the lower income groups to rent or purchase.

And if immigrants from the continent really were pushing us all out of house and home through their sheer numbers and obscene wealth, why is it then that, according to the stats Johnny Void has put on his blog, 34 per cent of rough sleepers in London are foreign?

The only areas of which I can think, where Coburn’s comments about immigrants pushing up property prices might be true, is in the very affluent parts of London, like Kensington and Knightsbridge, where luxury apartment have been built aimed at the global super-rich, such as the Chinese, or bought up by Russian oligarchs. Now the last time I looked, China and Russia were not part of the EU.

Coburn was given the slow hand-clap by Bristol Uni’s students, not just because some of them were left-wing, though that was probably also part of it. But also because they knew from their own experience at Uni that Coburn was talking dangerous, xenophobic nonsense. And they reacted accordingly.

Private Eye: Tory Persecutor of Homeless Made Head of Homeless Charity

February 19, 2015

As Tom Pride would say on his blog, not satire.

Johnny Void has for a long time blogged about the way the poor, the disabled and the homeless are frequently left helpless and betrayed by the very charities that are supposed to support them. These are the charities, whose managers support the brutal sanctions regime and workfare programme, which has seen tens, of not hundreds of thousands of people thrown on the streets without support, or sent to supply cheap labour to Tory donors like Tesco’s. In one of his most recent posts, Mr Void was particularly critical about the mental health charity, MIND, for supporting this highly exploitative system. MIND had produced a pamphlet that uncritically accepted the fraudulent and scientifically bankrupt idea that work automatically improved the condition of the mentally ill. They not only supported the system, but actually wished to send it extended and improved through the addition of mental health experts like, er, themselves.

The Void took the view that MIND were entirely cruel and corrupt. He had some very good things to say about the generosity and compassion of their front-line workers. He argued, however, that they were badly led by an upper management that knew nothing about the mental health and wellbeing of the lower orders. These were high-earning professionals, who thought that everyone looked forward to work the same way they did with their well-paid and interesting jobs.

I found this story in Private Eye’s edition for the 18th to 31st October 2013. It reports the appointment of the former chief executive of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, Derek Myers, to chairman of the board of trustees of the homeless charity, Shelter. It not only corroborates what Mr Void has said about the upper management of these charities, but it suggests that they’re staffed by the very people, who are responsible for the problems in the first place. The article reads

How well suited is Derek Myers, former chief executive of Tory-run Hammersmith & Fulham council, to his new role chairing the board of trustees at housing charity Shelter?

During his time running H&F (described by David Cameron as “his favourite council”), Myers oversaw the implementation of policies that were light-years away from those promoted by Shelter.

With Myers at the helm, H&F demolished a hostel for the homeless to make way for a development of luxury flats and mews housing; auctioned off 300 much-needed council homes, giving developers the green light to build luxury developments at the expense of affordable housing; and included no affordable housing among the 6,700 properties built in the redevelopment of the Earls Court exhibition centre. So much for Shelter’s campaign for “the government to meet people halfway and get more affordable homes built”.

Shelter also campaigns to prevent homelessness and helps tenants sustain their tenancies so they can continue to live in their community. With Myers in charge, H&F not only threatened to relocated 500 families on benefits to the Midlands, but it also told homeless people – many of whom would have contacted Shelter – that even if the council had a legal obligation to find them housing, they should be prepared to leave the borough. Does the housing charity know who it is taking on?

This is precisely the social cleansing against which Johnny Void has blogged so much. And with the poor and indigent being thrown out of the borough by Myers, it’s no wonder Dave Cameron considered it his favourite. All gentrified for the rich, with the poor being steadily forced out so they don’t have to trouble all those multi-millionaire financiers Dave loves so much. It shows you exactly what Cameron’s attitude to poverty is, as well as Myers and, by implication, the charity he has joined.

Guy Debord’s Cat himself lives in Hammersmith and Fulham, and has also blogged extensive on affairs in the borough, and the disgusting policies pursued by Myer’s party comrades on the council, so his blog is also worth checking out on these issues.