The Scottish Executive last week proposed that the ballot for the privatisation of 80,000 council homes in Glasgow will start on 4 March. The date was leaked on the New Labour executive's website, and seems to have caught the New Labour Glasgow council unawares.
Both the city council, which backs privatisation, and the Glasgow Housing Association, the company set up to take over the council housing, were taken by surprise. Glasgow tenants have no enthusiasm for the plan.
The Glasgow Campaign to Defend Council Housing is calling for a no vote, along with the Scottish TUC, the Scottish Socialist Party and the Joint Shop Stewards Committee of Glasgow council unions. We have launched the Campaign For A No Vote and so far managed to distribute 32,000 copies of our bulletin.
Much to the dismay of the Scottish Executive, many other councils in Scotland have rejected privatisation of council housing. North Lanarkshire recently surveyed its 12,000 tenants and found that 91 percent wanted to stay with the council. Chancellor Gordon Brown will write off all the council's housing debt, if the tenants vote yes to privatisation.
This is blackmail. If he can write off the debt then he should do so now. That would release £193 million a year to invest in council homes.
The biggest privatisation of council homes in England ran into trouble last week. Tenants' reps who had been persuaded to go along with the plan backed out. Birmingham council, England's biggest council landlord, wants to transfer all its homes to a series of ten private companies.
But the four tenants' reps on one of the ten company boards, Greater Yardley Housing, resigned, saying they now thought the transfer plans were 'unsound'.