After 'British jobs for British workers' we now have 'British homes for British workers' - brought to us yet again by a Labour government. Labour is claiming that it will give more local rights to people waiting on the housing list to get homes. Ministers want to allay fears, they say, that local people are being by passed by 'immigrants with large families [who] vault to the top of the council house list', as it's so quaintly put in the Daily Mail.
This is another example of Labour trying to appease its serious disgruntled voting base by aping the BNP. What won't be on offer, we can be sure, is the emergency housebuilding programme which could deal with the root of the problem.
Here are two statistics which tell us what that problem is: there are 1 million fewer council and housing association houses and flats than there were 30 years ago; and in that same 30 years the government has siphoned a total of £68.6 billion from council house rents and sales.
That has created the greatest housing crisis since the Second World War. The right to buy council houses has led to houses being allocated on the basis of the market - who can pay - rather than who most needs a house, a principle first developed around 100 years ago. So housing built for the poor and needy no longer is allocated on the basis of need.
And given there are a lot of poor and needy around - after all inequality has grown over the same period- it stands to reason that with far fewer resources many more will lose out. At present there are 1.6 million households (around 4 million people) on waiting lists, with only 170,000 homes available a year. Of these, it is estimated only 5 to 7 % go to 'immigrant families' (which doesn't include asylum seekers, who have no right to council housing).
As usual with this government, there is little change on offer. But this isn't about solving the housing crisis, it's about telling Labour supporters on the doorsteps that Labour is doing something to be tough on immigrants, so that it can compete with the BNP.
This racist bidding war is taking place across Europe around the Euro elections. That champion of women's liberation Nicolas Sarkozy is attacking Muslim women's right to wear veils and his counterpart in Italy has opined that Milan looks like Africa (really?). Racist scapegoating is the order of the day. On Friday I was a speaker at the launch of a new campaign to defend Muslims, called Kafa - Enough in Arabic.
Personally I already feel I've had more than enough of this racism. Time to do something about it.
As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.
Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.
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