Photos: The Kill the Housing Bill March, Seeking Housing Justice, London, Mar. 13, 2016

15.3.16

Kill the Housing Bill: a poster by Big Ben during the march against the Tories' wretched new Housing Bill on March 13, 2016 (Photo: Andy Worthington).See my photos on Flickr here!

On Sunday March 13, 2016, housing campaigners held a national demonstration against the Tory government’s latest Housing Bill, a disgraceful piece of legislation that introduces what the government has cynically described as “pay to stay,” whereby families in council housing, on median incomes (£30,000 nationally, £40,000 in London) will be made to pay market rents, doubling, tripling or even quadrupling what they pay. The move will affect tens of thousands of families, with research indicating that 60,000 families will be unable to afford to live in their homes anymore, while those that are able to do so will be financially crippled by a government that, disgracefully, claims to represent hard-working families, but is actually doing the opposite.

As the Kill the Housing Bill campaign notes, the bill also “forces local authorities to sell ‘high value’ properties on the private market when they become empty – the biggest council housing sell-off in generations,” “abolishes new secure lifetime tenancies in council housing, replacing them with 2-5 year tenancies,” and “[d]oes nothing to address the housing crisis, and instead replaces obligations to build social housing with Cameron’s unaffordable ‘starter homes’ — requiring an annual income of £70,000 in London.”

For a more detailed analysis of the UK’s housing crisis — and the crisis in London, where the greed is particularly focused — see my article written before the march, Call for an End to Housing Greed: Come to the National Demonstration Against the Housing Bill in London, Sun. Mar. 13. I’ll also be writing more on the subject very soon.

It was good to see several thousand people out on Sunday, and it was a relief that the sun shone on us all, but it did, above all, make me wonder what it will take for people to get active to save things they care abut that the Tories are determined to destroy — the NHS, for example, and, for those who live in it, social housing.

However, with 60,000 families facing the loss of their homes because of George Osborne’s hideous “pay to stay” policy, I have to ask myself why so many of those affected weren’t on the streets on Sunday. Perhaps, sadly, many of them do not yet know what is going to happen to them — which, if so, is a particularly harsh indictment of the ignorance at the heart of the so-called “information age” — or perhaps they are too ground down by the enervating malaise of the here and now, when, it seems, we go meekly to our doom like lambs to the slaughter, numbed by the lies and spin of politicians and the media, paralysed by our dismal culture and hypnotised by our gadgets, our smart phones and the promise of endless shopping.

Whatever the truth, I hope we find a way to wake up in significant numbers before all is lost.

A link to the photos is also posted below:

The Kill the Housing Bill march, Mar. 13, 2016

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album, ‘Love and War,’ is available for download or on CD via Bandcamp — also see here). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

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13 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, linking to my photos of Sunday’s Kill the Housing Bill march in London and providing a short analysis of the protest, in which, chiefly, I wonder what it will take to mobilise people in large numbers to save hugely important services at the heart of the British state – social housing, the NHS, schools – from the Tories, who are intent, with myopic malevolence, on destroying or privatising everything that has not already been destroyed or privatised. 60,000 families stand to lose their homes because of the doubing, tripling or quadrupling of rents through the Tories’ “pay to stay” policy for council tenants, and yet just a few thousand people were on Sunday’s march. Where is everyone, and what are they doing?

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Or, as I also ask, where is everybody as our country is destroyed by this pitiless Tory wrecking crew of sadistic imbeciles?

  3. Andy Worthington says...

  4. damo says...

    Have you seen osbornes budget

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, and I’m in a rage.
    I posted this great article by a headteacher, ‘I will be the last person in England dragged kicking and screaming to be an academy head’: https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/i-will-be-last-person-england-dragged-kicking-and-screaming-be
    And I wrote (on Facebook, I admit!), in response to someone asking if there was a way to reverse it, “This is a great cry for justice against the stinking decomposing corpse of government that is the Tory Party, but how do we bring these scumbags down? Wait until 2020 and hope they might not get in again with just 24.9% of the eligible voters? It might not happen, especially with those deeply cynical boundary changes planned, and the support of almost all of what passes for the media. We need a massive programme of direct action. Really.”
    I signed a petition against the academies proposal, which is getting lots of interest: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/124747
    And in light of the disgraceful cuts to the disabled to fund tax cuts for the rich, this resignation looks like it might do some damage to the Tories: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/tory-disability-campaigner-quits-sabotages-7570599

  6. damo says...

    The tories truly are fucking vile that shitty little weasle osbourne ….surely the public can see whats happening now ,right in front of them sittimg there like passives hopeing they will be voted out in 2020 is no fucking good the scum are trying to rig it so they remain in power perminantly if we dont get out there and protest riot ..beat the fucking shit out of any torie you encounter than people will be hitting the streets in there thousands …..in cardboard boxes …..yesturday george osbourn with that budget …..just said fuck off and spat right in the faces ….of millions of the most vulnerable people in this country …….we cant just sit and take that..

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, I agree, Damo, but people don’t seem able to comprehend how thoroughly the democratic process has failed. Cameron and Osborne and their cabinet of weirdos and misfits were troubling enough back in 2010, when the Lib Dems first helped them to power (and then committed political suicide by failing to pull the plug on them over tuition fees), but once in power, with the cover provided by an austerity agenda that played to the desire for self-flagellation of a Puritan country like the UK – where, amazingly, the citizens were also so deferential to those in power that they couldn’t see that the defining moment of our lifetimes (the global crash of 2008, witlessly dubbed the “credit crunch”) was the fault of an almost unthinkably greedy and out of control banking system rather than the unemployed, the disabled and immigrants – they became so giddily enthusiastic about their simplistic notion of what it means to run a country – privatisating everything for the benefit of the rich and unaccountable, and cutting taxes for the rich – that they dared to dream much bigger than any of them had in those long years where they met in darkened rooms to discuss their plans, having first made sure that no one genuinely intelligent was present.
    I don’t know what we can do when people don’t understand that this isn’t a liberal democracy with judicious safety nets anymore, but a country being burned alive by a wrecking crew determined to take us back to a place before the first Victorian philanthropists sullied the idiocy of the ruling classes by introducing concepts of the welfare state that grew for the next hundred years – and included universal education, the establishment of the NHS, pensions, unemployment benefit – until Thatcher began its reversal. But she at least drew lines where this bunch of simpleton butchers have no notion of restraint or of decency or of what Britain will look like with every single safety net removed and with greed absolutely unfettered.
    Yesterday, George Osborne robbed £4.4 billion off the most vulnerable members of society – the disabled – to pay for tax cuts for the rich. If people don’t get worked up about vile injustices like that, then what are we to do? However, I don’t expect to see riots in the streets. After all, our own dark sides have been nurtured by Tories and the media so that far too many people think the disabled are sub-human, as they do the unemployed and, of course, immigrants. The next step: leave the EU, then we’ll get the calls to “send them back where they came from,” while the unaccountable elite laugh like they’ve never laughed before and we return to the dark ages.

  8. damo says...

    You paint a very bleak picture of what will come to pass in this country we are going backwards to the 17th century with old nickle dose houses and workhouses all on snapchat and instagram the global elites hołd the whiphand now ……let the hunger games begin

  9. damo says...

    I might sound hard now andy but the disabled guy who sabotaged the website voted tory for 40 years he saw what the tories have done to the people of this country yet like that woman on question time they still voted torie yet now its affecting them there crying like babys ,for all of us affected by the cuts,god bless keep strong…for that guy and the woman on question time ….they both saw what the tories have done yet voted for them ……i dont know if i have any sympathey for them.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Bleak but appropriate, I hope, Damo. It simply isn’t enough anymore for people to sit back and think that things will be more or less OK. We’re heading back to the 18th century – but with Twitter – and with the whole Made in Chelsea / TOWIE b*llocks reflecting Louis XIV’s powdered, bewigged excess.
    The Hunger Games indeed.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    My way of looking at things is that I’m always delighted when people see the light, Damo, and come over from the dark side. So I have no particular sympathy for what happened to them before, but I wouldn’t hold their unreformed selves against them. Every single person who turns against this particularly cruel and selfish form of Toryism is welcome!

  12. damo says...

    Your right andy im glad they came over from the dark side ,i just think everyone is in such a rage at the moment ,question time was good last night they had some young nieve tory girl on trying to defend and justify the cuts ….the poor cow was torn limb from limb …..it seem everyone is repulsed by osborne and what he,s done .

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    I can’t cope with Question Time, Damo. I just sets me off, as they always have at least one 100% idiot bigot on the panel every week. But I’m glad to hear that a Tory got shouted down. It needs to happen much, much more. I’d like to see ministers egged relentlessly, wherever they go.
    The disability row is hopefully something that Osborne isn’t going to be able to shake off easily.
    A few articles here:
    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/mar/17/tory-rebels-osborne-disability-benefit-cuts-just-not-acceptable
    http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/welfare/2016/03/his-disability-benefit-cuts-george-osborne-telling-us-we-re-not-disabled

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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