If we fight council evictions together we can beat them
Unemployed and tenant activists in Brent, north west London, stopped two evictions of vulnerable people from their homes last week by fighting back. I’m part of Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group. One of our members was going to be evicted from his small bedsit.
He suffers from mental health problems and lives on benefits. We helped him challenge the eviction notice in court. They asked for proof of his benefits which we sent to them. But the bailiff went ahead with the eviction anyway.
The injustice of that convinced a group of us go and physically block the eviction—and we stopped it. When they came to change the locks we refused to let them anywhere near the door. The bailiff argued that we could always appeal the decision after they changed the locks—but where was the guy supposed to go in the meantime?
In another case, a woman who is six months pregnant and a foster carer for two children, lives in a shared room in a B&B with bunk-beds. The council threatened her with eviction for refusing offers of accommodation in other London boroughs some distance from ours, or out of London completely.
There seemed to be no thought for the children as they would have been taken out their school and far from their friends. There was also an issue with domestic violence and moving to one particular place just wasn’t suitable at all.
The woman barricaded her family into their room while a group of us were outside in support from various local activist groups like ours. We shamed the council into committing to find her somewhere to live in the borough. It’s important to have networks around us that help us fight back and not feel like we’re isolated.
And it’s important to resist. We might not always win—but we have to fight.
Clarence Jackman, North West London
Is Ed on our side?
I was disappointed you hadn’t noted Ed Miliband’s response to claims that Unite union “thugs” bullied Grangemouth executives. No prizes for guessing what Ed’s spontaneous comment was: “I don’t know the truth...but I condemn intimidatory tactics” whether by employers or unions.
He equates peaceful collective action according to democratic, voted-on union policy with Ineos bosses’ decision to impose a shutdown of an industrial plant. As the employers’ lockout was going on, MPs were nobly fighting against any reduction in their accommodation and meal subsidies.
I believe they also opposed any reduction in their own pension pot. Perhaps they might be happy to have their expenses based on “payment by results”.
D Shepherd, North London
Left rhetoric isn’t enough
A new term has entered the political lexicon—McCluskeyism. This means giving it large with left radical rhetoric. And when things come to the crunch—like blackmail from Ineos bosses—caving in totally and betraying the workers you’re elected to lead. This is not new. We should remember Hugh Scanlon, and how he became Lord Scanlon.
Bob Bagnall, Leicester
Austerity is biting so we should bite back
Last week’s paper hit the nail on the head about people buying less food. If you go into a shop with £20 for just the basics like bread, sugar, milk and something for dinner there’s very little to spare. Many times I have got to the till and found I just have enough to cover the cost. Then I’m left counting small change.
I buy cheap ready meals because buying the ingredients and using gas or electric to cook costs so much more. People are forced to budget to the point where every penny counts. The enormous pressure the Tories put us under has to stop. Whenever I see workers on strike in Socialist Worker it shows a fight is on.
But we need more strikes to hit the Tories hard and bring them down.
Anne Doherty, East London
Hypocrite MP votes for HS2
Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham says he has “always been fairly sceptical about HS2” (the new high speed rail project) due to the “massive cost”. He said, “There are improvements we need locally—£40 million would give us new platforms, rolling stock and signalling. That is one percent of the total cost of HS2.”
Norfolk will suffer because of the proposal by almost £230 million. So, I have to wonder why Norfolk MPs voted to approve the HS2 bill. How amusing that our local MP declared his opposition to the local press, yet voted for the proposal in Westminster.
Jo Rust, Kings Lynn
Pay your own heating bills
I see that Devon has two top ten MPs. Top ten for claiming for heating their constituency addresses— Mel Stride £32,23.64 and Hugo Swire £31,98.61. We have more top ten hypocrites than any other county.
Richard Bradbury, South Devon
Vote Yes to regain rights?
Grangemouth was blackmail to get more subsidies and destroy workers’ rights at the same time. I hope Scotland votes yes come the referendum so that the workers can regain their rights.
Linda de Villiers, on Facebook
Tories are law-breakers
Judges have ruled against a number of the government’s attacks on disabled people and the NHS. It does seem strange that the party of law and order should consistently be shown to be breaking the law.
P Couch, Plymouth
Good luck to Mangalyaan
India launched its Mangalyaan mission to Mars last week. It cost less than the film Gravity—and about a hundredth of a percent of what the US spends on its military every year. So where do the right wing British media get off lecturing the Indian government about its “misplaced priorities”? It may be true that the space race is about imperialist competition as well as scientific endeavour—but if the West can do it then why shouldn’t India? I wish Mangalyaan the best of luck on its voyage to the stars!
Jerry Redman, Blackpool
Save hospitals from Tory axe
So Jeremy Hunt wants to do for hospitals what Michael Gove has done for schools. We should all be afraid, very afraid.
Michelle Reid, Doncaster