Socialist Worker

Only 5 miles away... But it could be another world

As the Blairs splash out on £3.6 million mansion, this family of nine are crammed in two bedrooms

Issue No. 1922

Sanur Ali

Sanur Ali

WHILE TONY Blair can spend £3.6 million on a new house, the people of this country are suffering under a housing crisis.

Take Sanur Ali and his wife Salima Begum. They live in a two-bedroomed flat in Tower Hamlets, east London, with their five children and, since the death of Sanur’s mother, his 16 year old brother and 13 year old sister.

Sanur, who works in a takeaway, says, “We have been on the waiting list for a new flat for nearly a decade. But nobody has come to help us.

“The flat is damp. Shamadal, aged nine, has asthma and has to miss school. I wrote to the council saying that I would be happy to take a three-bedroomed house near here.

“The council won’t let us move there because they said it would be overcrowded. I want to give my children the best education, but there is no space.”

The Blairs reportedly want to get back on the luxury end of the housing ladder and have already bought two flats for their son.

But what future is there for Shahina, 13, Shahana, 12, Shamadal, nine, Shabina, eight, and two month old Shadiqul?

Since I was elected in July I have had so many people coming to me about their housing problems. There are council tenants facing overcrowding and the threat of privatisation.

There are pensioners in unfit accommodation, afraid of whether they can afford to keep warm this winter.

There are families struggling under the weight of mortgages and other debts.

Meanwhile there are 800,000 empty homes in Britain and record numbers of millionaires like the Blairs, whose only worry is where to put their swimming pool.

And Labour wonders why people want an alternative.

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Sat 9 Oct 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1922
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