Two new books look at the housing crisis from different perspectives.
The authors, Anna Minton and Glyn Robbins, spoke to Socialist Worker about the struggle for decent housing.
One of the focuses of Robbins’ book is tenant organisation and resistance.
Minton’s book is more descriptive, and describes top-down models seen in Europe as potential solutions.
Robbins said, “Council housing is the safest and most secure type of housing we have in this country.”
More and more people are privately renting. This raises a question of organisation.
“How can we bring all the campaigns together?” asked Minton, arguing that proper “funding for organisations” could be one solution.
“We need to unite across tenures,” argued Robbins. “Leaseholders can be a part of the movement.
“It’s frustrating that trade unions aren’t taking housing campaigns more seriously.”
The authors debated the role of councils.
“It’s scandalous that any council of any political hue is demolishing estates. I don’t think that apologising for councils for political reasons is helpful,” said Robbins.
“A lot of councils pushing through redevelopments are Labour Blairite councils,” said Minton.
But at the same time, argued Robbins, “There’s a problem with letting the government off the hook by focusing on councils.”
Both books tackle the role of the market.
“Across the country big capital is trying to acquire big chunks of land,” said Robbins. “The problem is, people live there. If they could, they’d treat the estates in London like a favela, they’d clear it.”
Glyn Robbins, £10, Red Roof
Anna Minton, £8.99, Penguin