[Ben Reeve Lewis looks at what the London mayoral candidates are offering Londoners…)
I recently bumped into someone I had worked with at the old ‘Camberwell Spike in Consort Rd Peckham, where I began my career in housing as a teenager.
A 1,200 bed direct access night shelter that usually had around 700 -800 residents at any one time.
He reminded me about something I had completely forgotten about, when I once caused mirth and later chaos by relocating individuals to different dormitories so that the resident list on the office whiteboard held a certain comedy value, by locating Mr O’nion, Mr Curry and Mr Rice in the same dorm, and Messrs Park, Lake, Tree, Hill and Pond in another.
The chaos came about on a bored nightshift when I relocated the 12 Mr Singhs to the same dormitory, causing havoc with their benefit claims as the Spike was also an operating DHSS office for the residents.
Needless to say I was hauled in front of the boss for a dressing down, a lovely pipe smoking Captain Mainwaring of a guy from the old school who admitted that whilst he understood the joke it hadn’t gone down well in certain quarters.
Had I been sacked I probably wouldn’t be here writing this now, possibly moving on from housing and homelessness into something more lucrative.
But I must say I’m looking forward to the London Mayoral election in a few weeks time. Unlike the EU thing I have no internal crisis going on and know exactly who I want in charge.
Lime Legal this week pointed us at the various party housing manifesto’s for London, so time for a brief trawl.
The Green Party
The Green Party certainly have the prettiest candidate in the form of Sian Berry and yes I know….What has that got to do with the politics? Absolutely nothing at all but I never pretended to be deep did I?
They want a London Renter’s Union, something I have been keen on for years but admit it will probably be about as likely as Donald Trump joining the Socialist Worker’s Party, given my experience with various tenants rights groups.
A unified voice for landlords is generally easier to pull off because they are all there for the same reasons, to make a living but tenants have different drivers and political ideas which often cause groups to split and reform endlessly.
Hence the Popular People’s Front of Judea v. the People’s popular front of Judea.
They also want to end rough sleeping. Good luck with that. Rough sleeping in the capital has been going on for at least since the time of Dick Whittington. Its virtually a London tradition and I for one will champion anyone’s rights to sleep in a doorway and be beaten up by drunks after the pubs shut.
Whats not to like?
The Lib Dems
The Lib Dem manifesto reports “Time to get building”, 1460394393 conjuring up images of no-nonsense Margaret Rutherford encouraging the girls of form 4d to spruce up the dormitories in the Belle’s of St Trinians.
(If you are too young to picture Margaret Rutherford think of an Anne Widdecombe who people actually like)
TheLib Dem boss (I’ve forgotten her name) pledges 200,000 new homes, exactly the same number as the Greens and also, like the Greens they promise more community involvement in developing land initiatives.
They steer clear of the fine old tradition of rough sleeping and instead opt to have a pop at tall buildings, complaining of the plethora of them springing up all over the place, saying that you can get on a number 21 bus in Lewisham and by the time you get off in Moorgate another three have been built and marketed.
Worse still, by the time you go home your bus stop in Lewisham has become a 14 storey complex with its own gym and underground car park so you cant find your house. Worrying stuff from the Lib Dems there.
The Labour party
Sadiq Khan is my man and the Labour Manifesto doesn’t disappoint. He also does a good Margaret Rutherford impression when he says “My housing priority is to get London building” but building what though? Not tall buildings I hope.
He has an initiative that would make Boris Johnson fall of his bike, in the radical form of ‘Homes for Londoners’, which immediately caused Boris to screw his manifesto up and throw it in the bin, which was to be titled “Homes for foreign investors”, defeated by the fiendishly devious Mr Khan.
“I would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for that pesky socialist”.
Sadiq too wants to strengthen tenants rights and the general thrust is towards helping councils manage rogue operators, so he gets my vote on that alone.
The Conservative Party (as made up by Ben)
Sadly, or perhaps not, depending on your view, the link Lime Legal provided for the Conservative manifesto didn’t open on my computer, so I’ll have to make it up.
Zac Goldsmith also pledges to ‘Get London building’ by selling off large tracts of London real estate to foreign investors who are mates of his, who he promises to help launder their money through a new firm of Cayman Island based lawyers that he is personally establishing to help promote ambition, achievement and tax evasion [sorry, avoidance – Ed] now that Mossack Fonsecca are going down the pan.
All this to help counter the draining effects of society’s underachievers so beloved of Sir Alan Duncan, such as nurses, police, teachers etc.
He further pledges to rid the capital of rough sleepers by using a combination of bulldozers and water canon, which will have the double effect of ending rough sleeping whilst simultaneously cleaning the streets.
Cheap and effective.
Yes, I said I’d made it up but I’ll bet its not a million miles away from the real manifesto.
I don’t know what the UKIP manifesto on housing is because it wasn’t easy to find, admittedly I didn’t try very hard but I did note that UKIP’s candidate is the openly gay Peter Whittle who hails from my neck of the woods dahn Peckham and Deptford
He does say that his priority is to put the concerns of local people over party politics but what are those concerns exactly? That’s my concern.
We wait with baited breath.
What made me smile this week.
In the wake of the death of Gary Shandling I took a look back on Youtube at his brilliant spoof chat show from the 1990s the Larry Sanders Show and the spectacular rude and offensive producer Artie, superbly played by Rip Torn who talks to people how most of us would like to most of the time but are too polite.
Cover your ears if you don’t like bad language
See ya next week