There are just two days to go until demonstrations take place against the Bedroom Tax in cities throughout the country. Called by Eoin Clarke and the ‘Labour Left’ faction of the party, they are part of an attempt to capitalise on the massive unpopularity of the coalition government’s policy, while Labour refuses to pledge they would repeal it. No doubt a fear of the growing grassroots rebellion plays a part in their manoeuvres.
This week, Labour MP and Shadow Cabinet member Helen Goodman admitted that a Labour government would keep the Bedroom Tax, should the party come to power in 2015. This must be particularly embarrassing for Labour councillors in Liverpool – arguably capital of Bedroom Tax resistance so far – where 11,000 households will be affected, and will have to find at least 15% of their rent from already overstretched budgets. Pro-cuts Mayor Joe Anderson has tweeted about it in recent days, pathetically blaming “Fib-Dems”. And in today’s Echo, Kensington and Fairfield councillor Louise Baldock declared that:
“This will be the most important and damaging change people have endured in the last two decades. The Labour Party nationally has not been particularly forthcoming on what it would do about this after the next election.”
Baldock has ample reasons to make a public show of opposing the Bedroom Tax. For one thing, 367 households in her ward will be hit by it. But for another not mentioned by the Echo, she is the vice chair of Venture Housing Association, which owns and manages 1300 homes in Liverpool and the Wirral. Like all ‘social landlords’, Venture is caught between what is transparently an attack on the very idea of ‘social housing’, and the need to collect rent in order to make money. Vice chairs of housing associations can expect to take home around ten thousand pounds per year for attending a few meetings.
“Its worth mentioning all this because many of the protests on Saturday have been called by those referring to themselves as the ‘Labour Left’. They have NOT been involved in the grassroots campaign and many of them will have known about the bedroom tax for over a year, indeed Labour councillors sit on the boards of the housing associations. In the case of Riverside Housing a Labour councillor is the chair of the board. Not to mention they oversaw the disastrous ‘Pathfinder’ housing scheme that saw swathes of housing demolished, long-standing residents moved from their homes, and failed ‘gentrification’ empty communities.”
“We need to keep up the pressure and we need to keep matters in our own hands. Labour want to ride the wave of anger into office where they can take the baton from the Tories. Let’s not forget Labour continued the privatisation of council housing, they opened the gates of the NHS to corporate vultures, they introduced tuition fees, they took us to war and they are doing the work of the government by implementing budget cuts (point any of this out on the facebook event and you are banned immediately).”
That last sentence is very definitely true. Yesterday I was personally banned from the ‘Liverpool Bedroom Tax Protest‘ Facebook page for posting Helen Goodman’s statement. A few hours later, the event was changed from ‘open’ to ‘invite only’, and the following conversation took place: