I am appalled at the populism of London councils in evicting families of rioters

Labour Party

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.


internet, Labour Party

Brixton Market with Harriet Harmen, Ben Bradshaw and other Labour MEPs and candidates:

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A hectic morning yesterday, talking and canvassing opinion amongst Brixton’s widely varied market stalls, shops and trading posts. We met some inspiring people – a nurse who had worked for over 25 years in the NHS and recognised the difference that a Labour government over the past ten years had made. She has always and will continue to vote Labour she told me.

Then there were people who had no idea there was an election going on, those who were angry at the current parliamentary system and threatened protest votes, and a very old man – the oldest working man I was told of 106 years old – who had never voted in his life.

Getting out there on the streets and having the chance to have in-depth conversations with people is absolutely the best way to really get in touch with what Londoners are thinking. Second to none.

Thanks to Gabrielle from the EU funded site Think about it for covering the event alongside BBC London and a German TV channel. Gabrielle got right in there with all the politicians, asking me some very intuitive questions and tackling the heart of the problem with UK Euro malaise – the unwavering focus on national politics even when there’s an international election going on! I wish Gabrielle – a top journalist – all the best with the blogging competition.


After Brixton I went to Battersea, knocking on doors on the Latchmere Estate. It was good to see my old friend Leonie Cooper, now Deputy Leader of the Labour Group on Wandsworth Council as well as her fellow Latchmere Ward councillor, Labour Group Leader Tony Belton (they obviously come out on top in Latchmere). Also good to be out and about with Martin Linton, the MP who is a tireless campaigner on behalf of his constituents.

I and the other Euro MPs and candidates were pleased to be joined in Battersea by Glenis Willmott, the Leader of the Labour MEPs. It was good of Glenis, who represents the East Midlands, to come to London. Many thanks to her for her commitment to the European election campaign.



Labour Party

IMG00004-20090521-2025It was with both anger and dismay that I discovered on Thursday when I arrived at an all party hustings meeting held in Alvering Library in Allfarthing Lane, Wandsworth, that the lovely library is to be closed down by the Tory Council.  It was a super venue, peaceful yet well appointed.

Closing libraries is, I believe, very short sighted.  Libraries allow children access to books in a way which cannot be matched by other means and also provide adults with an invaluable service.  Where else would you get your Ruth Rendell and Ian Rankin?

The other parties at the hustings – Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Greens and UKIP – may not all have shared my views on closing libraries.  I am, however, sure that everyone liked this particular one.  My thanks to the Wandsworth Society for organising the hustings and for making sure the meeting was so well attended

The hustings itself was most memorable for the total lack of any real grasp on policy by the UKIP candidate Strachan McDonald.  The only thing he seemed able to talk about was the Little Englander view that we are better off alone, no matter what that may mean and how much it may cost.  When asked what UKIP MEPs would do on the environment and climate change he was totally at sea.  You would thought he would have briefed himself on such an important matter.  Or maybe UKIP really do not have amy policies on the environment.

Which brings me on to the Conservative candidate, number four on their list, Belgian born Jean-Paul Floru.  An articulate libertarian, Jean-Paul believes there should be no control over the free market, seemingly even when an unregulated market would endanger workers’ health and safety and increase poverty.  Mr Floru, incidentally, has close links with the ultra right wing LLD Party in Belgium.  The LLD itself is very closely allied to the Vlaams Belang, which can be best described as the Belgian version of the BNP.lib1

In fact, the table was very much divided into two – UKIP and the Tories on one side and the Lib Dem and Greens and myself on the other.  A very instructive observation, I think.