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30 June 2017
Stop demolition of homes and communities in Haringey
The fight to stop Haringey council's massive privatisation project which will raze whole areas of Tottenham and Wood Green in north London to the ground, leaving thousands homeless or displaced, will step up a gear on 3 July. On that day, local people will once again take to the streets in an attempt to put pressure on the council to abandon its plans to socially cleanse large areas of the borough.
The campaign enters a new phase given the changed political situation with a very weak Tory government facing a turbulent period ahead. The Tories may have won the election but no one doubts they are a government in crisis and Jeremy Corbyn has emerged enormously strengthened.
The Grenfell tragedy has also increased the political polarisation, exposing years of neglect where the safety of homes inhabited by working class people was sacrificed at the altar of cut backs, neglect, privatisation and outsourcing.
This changed political atmosphere will give further impetus to the campaign to stop the HDV (Haringey Development Vehicle). So far, Haringey council, run by a rabid Blairite clique, has refused to listen to the campaign, it has refused to listen to local tenants and trade unions who have pleaded with the council to reverse its decision to bulldoze thousands of homes and sell off whole swathes of property in Haringey.
Opposition within Labour
It has even refused to listen to the two local constituency Labour Parties who have instructed their council to change course! This shows the strength of feeling against the council's plans as well as the potential for success but it also shows the determination of Blairite council leader Kober to push ahead regardless of the opposition.
Incredibly the company that the council has chosen to "redevelop" the area not only has a reputation for blacklisting trade unionists but now it has been exposed, not once but twice, for attempting to use flammable cladding similar to that used on the Grenfell flats!
It attempted this on projects in Conservative controlled Australia but regulations prevented it from going ahead. Yet it has found friends in Haringey Labour council! This shows that we can't trust the private sector if we want safe, good quality housing but it also shows that we can't trust Blairite Labour.
Some 'rebel' Labour councillors have already been disciplined for voting against the scheme earlier on in the year.
After the election there was some speculation that the project would be shelved with the real prospect of a Corbyn-led Labour government coming to power soon. This has not materialised and shows that any attempt to stop the HDV must also go hand in hand with removing the Blairites and replacing them with councillors who are genuinely committed to the ideas that Corbyn has been associated with.
He has always spoken out against social cleansing, for protecting existing council housing and the importance of building much more council housing to solve the housing crisis. He has also spoken out against privatisation and outsourcing.
In the run-up to next years council elections it is vital that Labour candidates stand on a clear policy of "No to HDV, No to privatisation and outsourcing and No to cuts".
It is equally important that tenants' organisations, trade unions and community organisations flex their muscles in the meantime. They should ensure that Labour candidates make a pledge to support these aims and if they refuse to do so then they should convene a conference to build broad support for standing candidates themselves who genuinely represent Corbyn's anti-austerity, anti-privatisation ideas.
If the HDV project is defeated it will not only be a victory for working class people in Haringey but also a huge defeat for the Blairites and the capitalist system that they are so wedded to.
Note added on 11 July:
Showing utter disregard for local residents, on 3rd July the cabinet of Haringey Labour council voted through - in seconds and in private - demolition of homes under its HDV plan.
This version of this article (apart from the 11 July footnote) was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 30 June 2017 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.
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