A radicle solution to the housing crisis in London

According to an article “Grenfell: names of wealthy empty-home owners in borough revealed” on The Guardian website there are 1,652 properties listed as unoccupied in Kensington and Chelsea. That is 1,652 properties that could be used, not as an investment, but as homes.image.jpg

(This map shows London’s 20,000 empty homes: Time Out: May 10 2017)

It is estimated there are twenty thousand “ghost” homes across London. That is twenty thousand properties that could be a home to someone. That is an outrage.

There are many reasons for this. Not least because interest rates have been kept at ridiculously low levels since the 2008 crash. Those who have money have been buying property because it gives them a better return on their investment. (This nugget of information was given to me by the estate agent who sold the flat we rented; our landlord wanted to sell, so we had to find somewhere else to live.) Throw into this mix foreign nationals, encouraged to buy property as an investment by UK based estate agents, and you have a deepening crisis. Most people with average incomes, even above average incomes, are priced out of the market.

There are a couple of thing that could be done to stop this kind of hoarding. Interest rates could be increased so those with assets get a decent return on their money. This might force the price of property down so hoarding gives less of a return on an investment. If interest rates were put up, mortgage repayments would increase. Some of those who have benefited from low interest rates would not be able to afford their mortgage; a glut of property would be repossessed and released into the market, bringing prices down. This brings with it a whole level of misery I would not wish on anyone. I also don’t think it would have the desired outcome. I suspect the repossessed properties would be swallowed up by those with pockets deep enough to speculate.

The other strategy is more radicle and has the potential to solve the problem. The fist half of the strategy involves extending the rights of private tenants. We need to pass laws that give renters a right to long term leases. Not six or twelve months but five or ten years. People need that kind of stability in their lives. These long term leases also need to come with rent controls. The second half of the strategy is to force the owners of all property that sits empty to become landlords. Your property sits empty for more than six months; you have to rent it out, on a long term lease, at rent controlled prices. Investors will either sell their property because they don’t want to be landlords or the properties will be used as they were intended; as homes for people to live in.

I can just feel the vitriol coming my way from he vested interests. But the neoliberal market is broken and we need radicle solution. This is about as radical a way to home people as I can think of. Yes build more affordable homes but also put the stocks we have to better use.


Please donate to the Labour party

I read something on The Canary about funding for Theresa May’s election campaign;  The list of dodgy millionaire donors that Theresa May won’t want you to see. This prompted me to take a look on the Electoral Commission website. There you can search donations made to all the political parties.

Here is a list of donations made to all the political parties in the last month. DONATIONS

What strikes me is how much the Conservative party has been given. It is far more than any other political party, double what the Labour party has be give by their supporters. It is no surprise that the Labour party gets much of its funding from the unions. But the overwhelming impression I have from the list is that the wealthiest few donate thousands to the Conservative Party because the Conservative Party represent their interests.

So in the interests of the many, I donated to the Labour party. I would urge everyone reading this to do the same. We, the many, may not have much but if we stand together, donate a little, we can help the Labour party win this election. DONATE

I’m voting Labour

I’m voting Labour and I urge everyone to do the same. As far as I can see it is not in the interest of most people to vote otherwise. The Tory manifesto is a statement of poorly thought out ideas informed by a dogmatic ideology that puts profits before people, private interest before the public good. Austerity is an ideologic strategy designed to make the poor pay off the debts of rich. The Labour manifesto, by contrast, feels optimistic; it aspires to the positive in us all, the sense of community, the desire to do good by the many, not just the few. I have survived successive neoliberal governments both Labour and Conservative that have done nothing but keep me poor and in debt. The system is rigged to keep us all in our place. I know it has ever been thus. But it is time for a change, a radical change. I am sick of these paternalistic parasites controlling us with lies. This election, more than any other, has shown me how the mainstream media colludes with the vested interests to drip feed a narrative of pessimistic division. Those people over there are to blame for your problems. Meanwhile I am free to go ahead bleed society dry like a spider feeding on an insect. None of this is new. The difference this time, for the first time in my life, there is an actual alternative to the way things have been done since Thatcher. My fear is that most people will be blinded by the lies and vote against their own interests. My hope is that people with see through these lies, vote to do some good by everyone and vote Labour.


Disappearing tweets

I wrote this short series of posts on Twitter this afternoon.

Screen Shot 2017-04-20 at 17.23.53

These post do not appear on my Twitter profile. Nor do they appear on my Facebook timeline; as all of my other posts from Twitter do. I wonder why this is? The conspiracy theorist in me thinks Twitter has censored my posts. Probably not but it is interesting to speculate.

Writer for feature film

I haven’t written here for an age but saw this and thought it was worth sharing.

This was posted today on Mandy.com.

Type: Film (LB)

Location: London

Salary: No Pay £100

Duration: ASAP shooting in July

We are looking for a writer for a feature film being shot in July. The team have put together an outline and character breakdown so we are looking for a talented writer with strong structure skills to join the team.

The story is about a Sri Lankan rickshaw driver who drives a stripper home, shot in real time. Knowledge of globalisation is a plus.

The team is made of industry professionals collaborating to take the feature to festivals. We have very strong industry links and have a production company so everything can be done in house. This is a no budget production, no one will be getting paid but the writer will receive a back end percentage on the film and £100 as we know it is a big job.

We are open to all levels of writers but would like to see some sample scripts, have a reference (film school is fine) and meet you in person before confirming.

We would like to have a first draft by 1st June and final draft by 15th July.

Not entirely sure what to make of this. Would be interested to see what the rest of the world thinks of phrases like “the writer will receive a back end percentage on the film and £100 as we know it is a big job.”


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