Having been contacted by constituents and Labour Party members, I have decided to speak out against those councils in London who wish to evict the rioters and their families from local authority accommodation. Labour Party members in the London Borough of Greenwich are, I know, extremely concerned by a press release put out by the Council, as evidenced by this on-line piece written by two members in Greenwich West Branch .
Of course what happened during the riots was terrible but not unprecedented – think of the race riots of the 1980s. Perhaps more to the point, the aftermath of the riots highlighted the strength of the community spirit in London and other parts of the country where people came out in “broom armies” to clear up the damage. This reaffirmation of community solidarity was, sadly, undermined by an appallingly populist and opportunist response by politicians.
Whilst the attitude of referring to the poor communities of Britain where the rioting took place as the “feral underclass” and postulating the solution of “lock them up and throw away the key” might be expected from the Tories, it is very concerning when this attitude is adopted by Labour politicians as well.
This is not to say that those accused of serious crimes during the riots should not be severely punished as of course they should. However, the actions that councils have taken in attempting to evict the families of the rioters is not only totally out of proportion it is counterproductive, futile and vengeful.
There are a variety of reasons why this is a terrible idea. Firstly, it is deeply unfair that simply by sharing the same roof as someone convicted as a criminal offence you should be forced to lose your house. This is in total violation of the values and principles of a civilised society.
Secondly, such action violates the Human Rights Act whereby people have a right to housing.
Thirdly, in many cases these households contain other children and/or vulnerable adults whom the council would be forced by law to re-house. There has been in a noticeable case in Wandsworth where a family who have an eight year old daughter have been served with an eviction notice. As this blog on the issue mentions; “in Britain in the 21st century we do not see eight year olds sleeping in the street. There are reasons for this.”
It is of course within the rights of a council to evict tenants should they pose a danger or a nuisance to their neighbours. The rioters who have been sentenced to jail have de facto been evicted from their council house or flat. To punish the innocent families of the rioters is a violation of everything Britain claims to stand for.