Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/480/2229
Tenants defeat housing sell-off
'DEFEND COUNCIL Housing' (DCH) campaigners in Swansea are celebrating the defeat of the council's attempt to privatise its housing stock. Almost three in four of the 13,000 tenants who voted rejected the council's plans.
Rob Williams Swansea Defend Council Housing and Socialist Party
A protracted campaign lasting a year, fought the Liberal-led coalition's attempt to transfer the housing stock to a 'community mutual', Tawe Housing. The council insisted this was a 'not for profit' body but tenants knew it was the thin end of the wedge to end public housing in Swansea and open the door to the private sector.
Council housing is one of the jewels in working-class gains in Britain, particularly as many are priced out of the housing market. Victory for the council would have turned the clock back to less secure tenancies and higher rents.
The council, echoing the New Labour Westminster parliament and Welsh Assembly policy spent at least £1.4 million on their campaign. But last summer a united DCH campaign undermined the council's arguments in a series of public meetings throughout Swansea's estates.
Public sector unions locally, especially UNISON, funded the sending of letters to every tenant's house and a big advert in the local paper calling for a 'No' vote. It shows the effect the trade union movement can have when mobilised.
However, the big unions still give funds to New Labour, despite its policies of attacking union members. Housing workers would have followed the housing into the private sector.
It was the previous Labour controlled council that first floated the plan for a housing transfer. The need for a new mass workers' party is again posed by this struggle.
Now we have to fight for the fourth option - real public investment in council housing. Swansea council claim that it can only raise £176 million of the £371 million needed to repair the stock but the government were willing to make funds available if the transfer went through.
New Labour are prepared to bribe the privateers.
The needs of council tenants, now and in future, must come first. The investment gap must be fought for through a mass campaign of council tenants, council workers and the wider working class.
In The Socialist 29 March 2007:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
What we think
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party feature
Northern Ireland agreement
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news