[Ben Reeve Lewis is an anarchist…)
Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s I was both a member of Militant and a “Red Skin” (socialist, anti-fascist skinhead).
No surprises there to some of my more critical regular readers.
I’ve gotten older now and left revolutionary socialism behind but don’t think I’ve gotten softer and more balanced. I’ve gone the other way in fact. My politics are largely of the anarchist kind these days.
Socialism is for light-weights
My political heroes nowadays are people like Colin Ward oft referred to as “One of the greatest anarchist thinkers of the past half century” and author of several works on people and housing. Known to one and all as “The Gentle Anarchist”.
Neither he nor I are anarchists of the Russian, Van Dyke beard and bomb kind. Neither am I a member of Class War. I’m too old for the piercings and can’t be arsed to smash a window of Dixons to nick a TV.
And to be honest I wasn’t much of a revolutionary. I lacked the prerequisite anger and unlike anyone else I knew in the organisation I found a lot of it hilarious. I was the only one who found the Viz Comic character ‘Millie Tant’ funny and accurate.
So I was chuffed and amused to read of the activities last weekend of the ‘Women’s Death Brigade’ protesting outside of Foxtons in Islington.
Woman protest in Islington
I’m not knocking the protest, there is a place for all kinds of activism but as reported in Property Industry Eye it would seem that the driver for the weekends event was a previous assault on a protester allegedly by a member of Foxton’s staff which left her concussed and with no action by Police despite the attack being recorded on video.
Usually, protests against Foxtons are based on their gentrification of swathes of London, destroying communities for local folk but Islington is a bit of lost cause surely?
It’s been gentrified for as long as I can remember.
So I went over to Class War’s website to see if the reporting on Property Industry Eye was skewed in some way but even their own reporting seemed more incensed about the assault in July than the gentrification issue which gets only a cursory mention.
Hmmmm . Not sure a revenge attack is a great way to advance a political case.
Landlords in Wales
A week or so back I wrote a piece for the blog pondering on whether or not Welsh landlords were going on strike against the licensing scheme there but this week I read another possible alternative, that the online registration scheme isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Landlord Angela Durrant saying she has gone through a letting agent for fear that she will miss an important point but it’s a thin argument in a thin article to be honest. There is no information about how complex it is, despite the title of the piece itself and wouldn’t, to my mind account for the still outstanding 75% of landlords yet to sign up.
Whilst I can accept that Ms Durrant may well be, as she states, a decent and respectful landlord the standard old gripe she puts forward :
“I understand it might be trying to root out rogue landlords but it’s not really taking into consideration people who are trying to do a good job with perhaps one or two properties”
Never washes with me.
Why we have laws
I’m a slow, plodding and considerate driver who has never been caught by a speed camera but I accept them as part of the driving landscape because I know that there are enough spliffed-up Lewis Hamilton’s out there who need sorting.
I am expected to watch my speed because of random nutbags who I’ve never met but that’s driving for you. To paraphrase Ms Durrant speed cameras don’t take into consideration drivers trying to do a good job.
Same with licensing. My missus is a travel agent and every couple of years she has to sit a day long exam just to keep her license to sell travel insurance on a poxy charter flight for some stag-do jetting off to Dublin dressed as Leprechauns.
She doesn’t like doing it but its part of the job.
Rogue landlords in Norwich
A story local to Tessa caught my eye this week about a Norwich landlord caught out with 13 breaches of HMO regulations that resulted in £10,000 in fines. The article ends:
“The council is encouraging landlords to sign up to a new property registration scheme on www.norwich.gov.uk/PRSNorwich.”
Whenever I visit Tessa in Norwich it seems like a relaxed, cultured town but the last time I reported on a Norwich landlord he was firing a shotgun in the air and assaulting a woman. That’s racy enough for the Old Kent Road, not an elegant cathedral city.
I was annoyed this week to read on Nearly Legal of a homelessness case where a family from Tower Hamlets in the East End of London were relocated to Bexley, a borough on the outskirts of South East London
All Londoners know the terrible trauma that goes whenever crossing the Thames is involved. Northerners don’t like coming south and vice versa but this was a legal thing, not an ages old London prejudice.
Ms Begum and her children aged 2,3,8 and 10 were owed the full housing duty and offered a property they could afford on their income, something that couldn’t be achieved in more expensive inner London.
She complained that she spent 5 hours taking the kids to school and back each day and that this was unreasonable.
The council for their part decided that her decision to keep her kids in the same school were up to her and there were many fine schools in Bexley she could have sent them to.
Eminently sensible I’m sure most would agree but the courts said no. The council had not properly considered the best interests of the children and were therefore in breach of Section 11 of the Children’s Act 2004.
I am reminded of the words of Lord Denning who once said “What utter bollocks”.
When I was 10 my parents relocated the family to Australia. Where was the Children’s Act duty then I ask you? The journey back and forth to school in South London was a mare as well.
What made me smile this week.
Clearing out the back room of the flat and moving things into storage I found my old vinyl copy of the Tubes album “Young and Rich” from 1976.
Virtually impossible to get hold of now and none of the tracks on youtube so I was overjoyed to crank up the Dansette I bought Frazzy for Xmas last year and for the first time in years, heard the pumping, funky bass line that kicks off “Pimp” and the brilliant double tracked acoustic guitar on the jazzy “Brighter day”.
Search it out, a lost classic for those like early to mid 70s soul/funk/rock.
See ya next week.