The Flawed Policy of “Right to Buy”

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 The Flawed Policy of “Right to Buy”

By James Grundy

Jim Grundy's photo.

Yesterday, the Tories announced plans to extend the ‘Right to Buy’ to housing associations. In the middle of a housing crisis, when 1.8m households are stuck on council waiting lists, the Tories want to get rid of what social housing remains.

It is so crazy that even the Daily Telegraph referred to it as “economically illiterate and morally wrong.” [1]

In Hucknall we are building the first council homes for 30 years. At a time when there are around 2,500 households in the town on the council’s waiting list, the Tory solution is not to help to address that but to actively make it worse. And, cheeky beggars, they want the tax payer to pay for the privilege!

The National Housing Federation (the representative body for housing associations) estimates that the extension of the ‘Right to Buy’ (‘cos it’s ‘Wrong to Rent’ – from a council or housing association at least) would cost £5.8bn – some say £20bn. [2]

What we need, need desperately, are more homes that people can afford to rent or buy. Changing tenure of any council or housing association property will solve nothing, rather it will only worsen an already appalling problem. How many homes could be built with the money (that they’ve found on the magic money tree – same place as the £8bn for the NHS)?

Rather than an electoral bribe – who can pretend it is anything else? – we need to provide people with places to live and thrive. And today we learn that the Tories want those lucky enough to live in a council property to be threatened with homelessness, scrapping life-time tenancies. [3]

This will do nothing to deal with the waiting lists but undermine the stability of our local communities. It’s simply insanity. But confirmation that, as far as the Tories are concerned, not being a millionaire is simply a lifestyle choice.

We need – and we will – build more homes that people need desperately. The Tories have overseen a huge increase in the level of homelessness. Only last month it was confirmed that the number of children made homeless had grown by 10,000 in just one year. [4]

These latest announcements show just how little they care about that.

  1.  Extending “Right to Buy” Morally Wrong – Telegraph
  2.  Why Extending “Right to Buy” is a Bad Idea – Opinion 24 Dash
  3.  David Cameron annouces plan to end lifetime council tenancies – The Guardian
  4.  Shock, Anger and Dismay at “shameful” rise in homelessness  – 24 Dash

Can we sue the Government?

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First posted 23.06.14 by Julijuxtaposed

 

Can we sue our government?  I don’t know how feasible this is.  There is no research in this post.  This is because, not only am I no expert – not on anything actually (though I think I have more inkling than I’m allowing in this post) – but I am sensible enough to know that I could research until the cows come home and it will still come down to the will and authoritative arguments of those who are actually qualified – and maybe a jury.  This is just a layperson putting an idea out and into the ether.

Unless one lives on another planet, is one of the deliberately deaf and blind Alright-Jacks or the I’ll-only-pay-for-mine Brigade, one can’t fail to register the growing inequality of treatment, wealth/prosperity and opportunity perpetuated by this Government.  For those with eyes to see, the march towards a fascistic system is clearly in view.  With mass subjugation by serfdom, corporate control and media-politico doublethink, many woken people have been rightly growing increasingly concerned for some time.  And angry.  So very angry.  And so justifiably so.

We have no mechanism as a citizenry, to hold our governments officially to account, aside from elections.  They fixed parliamentary terms with no counter-balance to get rid of an administration before a General Election and tell us they think an election every five years is sufficient, as though we should think ourselves lucky to get that.  They don’t even think we need a proper power of recall when it comes to individual MPs!  It’s just not good enough, is it?

Can’t We, the People, bring a class action against an entire government?  Here, through our own British Justice system.  Obviously I have this government in my mind, specifically but, absent the parliamentary will to write such a vehicle into Law as would rebalance our power, I’d also like us to try and set a precedent.  Let’s face it: this Coalition is not the first and, unfortunately, probably won’t be the last to abuse us through abuse of office.  Can’t we sue them for:

Breach of contract/merchantable quality
Reckless endangerment
Negligence/Malpractice
Extortion/Slavery
Fraud/Insider trading/Accepting bribes
Fiduciary incompetence
Oppression of legal, human rights

Obviously we can’t sue them just because we don’t like government policy, albeit that we don’t like government policy.  It has to be grounded in more than mere opposition to political colour or the failed aspirations of a manifesto, particularly when the respondents are a Coalition.  As I said, I’m no lawyer or constitutional expert but surely there must be at least one valid charge on that list, (whether or not they are all correct legal terms) or a charge I haven’t thought of, that entitles us to seek criminal or civil justice within our own legal system.  Scare the pants off ‘em I say!  The whole damned lot of them!  Surely there is a range of ‘expert witnesses’ on whom we could call and there must be organisations, lawyers, economists, anthropologists and other relevant academics who could help us build a case?  Perhaps We, the People, need our own version of the Investor State Dispute Settlement…  ;-)

Dear Lib Dems

Posted on May 27, 2014 by julijuxtaposed 
Dear Lib Dems,
 I know you’re heavily distracted right now but you and your leader seem confused about what has gone wrong.
You got excited. You thought, like most of the people back in 2010, that this was an economic emergency and that you had a public service duty to negotiate a coalition in the ‘National Interest’. Perhaps it is that you were naive; perhaps it was the long, oh so long awaited chance to be in power that made you blind during those early, heady days.
 You have acted, ultimately, as the front men, the shills, the appeasers and apologists for your senior partners. You’ve voted with them time after time, irrespective of whether it was in the citizens’ interests or even ethical and sensible. You have contributed to the increasingly desperate vulnerability of every single group bar the ‘I’m alright, Jacks’. [And don’t you dare think to yourself: “but we’ve lifted (blah number) over of the tax threshold” or that 24/7 childcare and free school meals or whatever your particular defence is today, are wondrous salves and believe yourselves righteous.]
You have upheld and then perpetuated a crony status quo. You’ve relentlessly tinkered with and demolished so much, so callously and with real ignorance. You’ve continued to subsidise profiteers with taxpayer money rather than facilitate a liveable income for the majority of the workforce. You built misery instead of houses. Courted the establishment rather than served the Commons. Turned Social Security into a capricious game of fare-well-if-we-say-you-can roulette. You’ve done nothing meaningful to address the real problems of increasing serfdom, asset stripping, the corporate tax fiasco, accountability of once public but now private service/utility provision. In fact, you align yourself with a senior partner who has the intention to do the opposite. You’ve avoided everything the sane and ‘common’ person on the street would have you fix and chosen, instead, to support and vote through the kinds of cruel, divisive, patriarchal false economies that so typify Tory mentality.
A year or so into your partnership, here on the ground, those who did not previously understand economics and finance were travelling a steep learning curve. We came to realise that, although this was indeed an emergency, you were being utterly disingenuous and wilfully obfuscating about a varied and complex set of causes and, therefore, about any appropriate solutions.
You thought that because you kept on message that we would not deviate either. You assumed we were all swallowing the mainstream stenographic tripe. We weren’t. We were educating ourselves elsewhere.
A truer picture began to emerge: Labour hadn’t just ‘created the mess’ – not on its own. It had taken time. Thatcher’s Tories arguably started it; Blair’s Labour ran with it and now, with your willing assistance, Cameron’s Tories were and still are, running amok. We learned that Labour’s general culpability was really no more than any other Western government’s. We learned that none of you actually understands how to, let alone cares about constructing and facilitating an economy that works for the citizens.
So, while you were busy feeling chuffed, we were learning new words and concepts and getting our heads around a new acronym every day. We were learning about limitless leverage, derivatives, LIBOR and other price fixing, bubbles, Ponzis, High Frequency Trading, Credit Default Swaps, paper gold, depraved banksters and traders, Investor State Dispute Settlements, vested interests, politics as a wealth-creating career and investment vehicle, fiat currency Wars.. It was and continues to be an astoundingly long list.
We learned that what private collateral there is is so insufficient as to be emasculated and that you are so ignorant and irresponsible that you will sell any public asset you can think of – be it in physical existence such as Royal Mail or packaged as a financial service such as student loan books. We discovered that The City was a hub for everything from the pretty shady to the downright fraudulent. And, under your ‘helpful’ governance, still is.
 We learned that ‘neoliberalism’ was shorthand for ‘capitalism, right-wing, corporate’. We saw that Neoliberals love power and money much more than people. We realised neoliberalism is what’s undermining people and the planet and that it is the obstacle to our sustained well-being. The well-being of billions. We looked around; made the connections. It made us imagine a slope towards fascism as a very possible 21st Century consequence.
We began to understand the whole obscenity. You didn’t. Or you just chose to ignore it. It has to be one or the other because we, out here, we’ve managed to at least grasp the rudiments in spite of the concerted attempts of powerful mainstream politicos to hinder our understanding.
 Back in 2010, when you sat down to negotiate, you (must have) realised how unpalatable the reality of a junior partnership in a Tory coalition would be if you were to maintain your reputation – which, as you’ll remember, was not bad at all. You could have shown integrity and told the Conservatives to form a minority government and that you’d support them where you could. You should have. But, even if I give you the benefit of the doubt and believe you were truly earnest and noble in your intent, once ‘in’ you would have had even better opportunities to learn at least the same things as were we down here. One would think you’d have had an epiphany by the end of that first year. And what did you do? You carried on as though the Tory narrative was almost faultless. For four years.
 Every time you were called out on it you patronised us as though we were too stupid to know what was good for us. And, not content with that, you now justify your behaviour on the back of ‘recovery’. You seem to think you are, or soon will be, vindicated. Here, on the ground, those of us who have been busy trying to live under your ‘helpful’ governance; those of us doing all that learning: we know this is a recovery for those who need it least; a recovery built on bubbles, corruption, cronyism and the serfdom of the masses. The real shit has not even hit the global fan and there you are, trying to sweep our own dirt under a shifting carpet. It’s a fiat recovery, based on fiat ideology, carried out by fiat authority.
Liberal Democrat doesn’t really shout ‘integrity’ now, does it? ‘National Interest’? Yeah, if ‘national’ means ‘Westminster’ and ‘interest’ means ‘self’.
And now you think you’ve done so badly in the EP Elections because of your debate with Farage. Ok, that really wasn’t very impressive… your better arguments were not just lost amongst the crude populism of Farage but you demonstrated that you really do not understand that those people who take issue with the Union, do so for rather different and more sophisticated reasons than the xenophobic, corporate, anti-intellectual platform that is UKip. You were the only party with the integrity – AND platform – to defend the concept of Europe and you wrecked it by wasting time repeating rhetorical catchphrases and endorsing a retarded sycophancy for the technocratic status quo. You seem to think that anyone who sees Europe as having or being a problem, views it through the Tory/UKip lens. You really have to stop listening to hysterical mouthpieces. And we don’t all want to leave Europe just because we don’t agree with you, either. It’s the technocracy, the receding democracy, the neoliberal bullying, the corporatisation, the commodification of our lives that we hate, not the Social Chapter, nor ‘red tape’ that acts for Common Interest, nor our fellow Europeans. You need to understand that for a great many of us, the problems we see in Europe are the same problems we have with our own, successive UK governments; the same problem we see in nigh-on every country on the planet, in fact.
Seriously – that TV Farage-Clegg trip: that was just a recent straw out of a bale’s worth. But why would you see the connection between these points when you can’t seem to even see them individually? Some of your party are even tabloid-riven enough to suppose that getting rid of your leader is the solution. Nick Clegg might be the authorised face of your toxicity but, my gods, if you think we don’t know all your higher profile names or your collective voting record, you probably should all just give up – right now. It’s a global economy supported by a neoliberal attitude and our country is in trouble because our own politicians, economists, and media are of the same means by which much of this infernal crash came about. You have failed because you cannot appreciate either the details or the whole picture and you have failed to recognise that the electorate increasingly does.
There is much satisfied vitriol in the country at your fall from grace. On the surface it’s deliciously tempting and quite understandable. You brought this circus to town. But it’s also a tragedy. It’s a tragedy for your once rational, honourable party and a serious blow to an already dwindling faith in our democracy.
Regards, Juli

First Thoughts on the EU elections

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By Prue Plumridge

The UKIP campaigned on an anti-europe ticket.

My question is:

If they are anti-europe why have they not declared their position on the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership currently being negotiated behind closed doors?

They have been surprisingly quiet on the issue.  Now why could this be?  It would have been a powerful weapon in their campaign against the EU.

Let’s remember that Nigel Farage’s great hero is Thatcher.

Her pursuit of the neoliberal ideologies of deregulation, privatisation and trade liberalisation have left behind a destructive legacy which we are now more than ever reaping the consequences of.  Time will prove (I am certain) Farage’s hypocrisy and deception.

We should be clear that the UKIP are libertarians who believe in free market economics and this is the economic model currently being promoted by an unelected, undemocratic cabal of EU commissioners who are negotiating a trade deal with the US that will favour globalisation and the continuing ascendancy and undemocratic power of the big corporations.  

Clearly there is a dissonance between what Ukip supporters believe the party stands for and reality.

Whether they are in denial or their support is a protest against the established parties it matters not.  There will be tears before bed-time if we continue to think of this party as a group of fruitcakes or loonies or purely a focus for protest.  They are cleverly dissimulating their real agenda and the next few months will be interesting as surely they will have to nail their colours to the wall.

It may seem to some that I am expressing anti-EU sentiment.  I hasten to add that I am not.  I believe that our future lies within the EU.  Not the current austerity imposing neoliberal juggernaut which is bringing Europe to its knees but a properly democratic EU which is socially just, acts for the benefit of its citizens and ultimately remembers its history. 

I wrote an article, in May last year, for Think Left. ( http://think-left.org/2013/05/04/on-fascism-and-facts-ukip-the-strategic-adversary/).  A year on I stand by it.  The rise of the right throughout Europe is, whether we like it or not, an articulation of the fear being expressed by its citizens over continuing uncertainty and fear for the future.  Citizens, however have not woken up yet, to the fact that the Right including UKIP are only offering more of the same.

The Left need now to rise to the challenge and show there is another fairer and more socially just way.