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Tuesday, 10 November 2015

London rental prices sky high, Could rent strikes be the answer ??

With the housing crisis in teh UK no more accute than in the Xcapital city of London seeing rent prices soar in recent years. Could we start to see the idea of rent strikes between occupants making a much needed return ?? House rental prices in London have risen by 7.7pc in the past year to £1,560 a month, making rental costs in the capital more than double the UK average. Excluding the capital, rents across the UK average £749 a month, having risen 3.5pc year-on-year, according to the latest quarterly rental index from Homelet. The gap between London and the rest of the UK is now the highest on record, the insurer said. However, rents have risen fastest in Scotland, where new tenancies over the three months to October were priced 9pc higher than the same time a year ago. Prices surged to £665 last month, compared to £610 a year ago. Renting is cheapest in the North East, where average prices are £536 a month. The most expensive area outside London is the South East, where new rental properties coming to the market last month averaged £944 in monthly rent. Average price for new rental properties across the UK, October 2015 Region Average price Annual change Greater London £1,560 7.5% South East £944 4.3% South West £872 4% East Anglia £809 -1.2% West Midlands £669 2% Scotland £665 9% North West £635 -4.9% East Midlands £628 5.9% Yorkshire & Humberside £621 2.0% Wales £614 1.8% Northern Ireland £588 -2.1% North East £536 3.9% Across the UK, rent increases are far outpacing wage growth, with average tenant incomes up just 1.7pc over the year. A separate survey last month suggested many renters are paying more than they can actually afford. Affordable rents are defined as making up less than 35pc of net household income. Homelet, which also questioned almost 15,000 tenants about their views on the rental market, said that while 71pc of tenants are keen to buy their homes, 64pc have no expectations of being able to do so any time soon. An overwhelming number cited high deposits as the biggest barrier preventing them from buying. Yet the report suggested more than half weren't taking any steps to save for a deposit. In total, 20-somethings in the UK can expect to pay £66,800 in rent to landlords by the time they are 30. The authors also found price is the most important factor for tenants choosing a home, ranking higher than other factors such as location, a low crime rate and distance to work. Some 71pc of respondents said they rent through a letting agent, with just 29pc renting directly through a landlord. Those who dealt directly with landlords were more likely to be happier than those renting through letting agents. From the daily Telegraph

Monday, 9 November 2015

An update on this blog

So sorry for the lack of posts of late. I've not been that active as I’d have liked. Been quite busy thinking and considering the world we now live in. Since the general election things have as predicted got harder for people including myself. Tory government intent on ripping away our rights and our freedoms in lots of ways. While the labour party my former home has a new left wing leader catching many including myself by surprise. Not least my former party the socialist party of England and Wales who still can’t understand how labour can have elected a left wing leader a proper one this time. We were told for years the Labour party is just another capitalist party just like the democrats in the US. But the election of Jeremy Corbyn by a stonking majority has forced many on the left including myself to look again. I have not been shocked at the levels of crap thrown at Jeremy Corbyn. Any glimpse of a turn to the left or anything vaguely mentioning the working class or even socialism has to be squashed and ridiculed before it gains any foot hold. I have had lots of thoughts over the last few months just not got around to putting them down on a blogpost. I've come across many people from different walks of life and continue to be astonished how much people are prepared to put up with. But we can all only take so much and people will not lie down without a fight. I'm proud to say my disabled comrades at Disabled people against Cuts continue to do fantastic work and will always have my full support. The anti cuts movement is in a bit of a mess with no real direction but small local campaigns has found victories here and there. I am still thinking along a libertarian anarchist lines with a form focus on non hierarchical organisations. I still look back at my political past of labourism and Trotskyism with levels of cringe. But I thank them for showing me what not to go for in a movement it’s a process I’m and many of us are on we learn and develop our ideas day by day. The fight against the brutal austerity continues all over the globe but in Britain we have not given up. Anarchists, including AFed and Solidarity federation, threw themselves into the struggle against cuts after the election of the Tory/LibDem coalition in 2010. We joined literally millions of others on strikes, protests, occupations, and direct actions, but after 2012 it all got a bit... quieter, and the cuts continued. That's changing this year though, but how can we make sure this new wave of anti-cuts action is more successful? What can we learn from the past five years? What contributions can Anarchists make to the struggle (and what contributions SHOULD we make)? I was close to closing this blog down but something inside me nagged at me telling me. Don’t be ashamed of your past cringe worthy ideas heck we all have to start somewhere don’t we....

Monday, 11 May 2015

This is not our defeat

reblogged with thanks to red and black leeds The results are in, and once again, the British electorate have voted in the party the rich and their friends in the media told them to. Despite pre-election predictions of hung parliaments, "progressive" coalitions, or minority governments, the Conservatives walk away from this election with a slender majority, having increased their share of seats in parliament to 330. Another five years of Tory government now seems assured. There are those on the left who are greeting this news with despair. Despite it’s history of betrayal and failure, every election season the British left lines up behind the Labour Party time and time again. This campaign was no exception. The trade unions, of course, backed Labour to the hilt. Even the left-wing nationalist SNP and the anti-austerity Green Party were touting themselves as eligible partners to a Labour government. Many on the radical left were trying to talk themselves into believing a Labour victory would bring meaningful social change just a fraction closer. Even for those of us who put no stock in parliamentary politics it’s easy to slip into the habit of rooting for the parliamentary opposition. Just the mere fact of them nominally opposing the repulsive Tory crooks who’ve been in power for the last five years made Miliband and his outfit instantly seem sympathetic. But the truth is these people have nothing to offer us and we know it. We’ve been down this road before, for 13 long years of Labour administered misery. This is the party that brought you tuition fees and the Iraq War. They are not friends to the working class. They never have been. As anarchists, we’re critical of voting and elections in general as a strategy for change. For a summary of the anarchist arguments against electoralism, it’s worth reading the recent series by Phil Dickens for - amongst other things, the idea that we can get what we need by just voting for a different set of politicians to run everything fosters illusions in the very system we’re trying to oppose. As Phil puts it: parties can’t pull the state leftward, but mass social movements can force concessions from it. The former is a massive drain of time, energy and effort from the latter. Worse, it creates the illusion that the latter isn’t necessary since we can just vote ‘radically’ instead of all that inconvenient hard work of organising and fighting. No government, Labour or Tory, will offer us anything unless we fight for it. Left-wing electoralism, when it succeeds in capturing state power, encourages us to trust the state and in state officials, bureaucrats and politicians – instead of trusting each other, and our own collective ability to take action and change things. But the other side of this problem is that when left-wing parties fail, as the Labour party did catastrophically this time round, those who’ve invested so much, both emotionally and physically, in electoral success are faced with despair. We see friends and comrades who believed a Labour government would bring at least some relief from the horrors of Tory austerity now downhearted, defeated, at the point of giving up hope altogether. This is just another pitfall of the tried and tested and failed strategy of trying to vote things better. So to all of you out there who were disappointed with the result of Thursday’s ballot: you have our sympathies, but remember, Miliband’s loss is not ours. The Labour Party has failed you, but they would have failed you anyway. Your best chance to make things better isn’t some Oxford-educated millionaire with a red rosette – it’s ordinary people getting together to fight back. It’s your workmates, your neighbours. We’re still here. We’re not going away. Our struggle will go on, under this government, and the next one, and the one after that, until they have no governments left to throw at us. Until we win. jolasmo | 05/09/2015 at 12:49 | Categories: Blog | URL:

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Why I’m scared for our future

You may say what future and you may have a point… Today we saw another government take office this time a fully Tory Tory one and lets be honest not many expected them to gain a outright majority how they managed it is open for debate but they have done and we must face facts. The labour party shouldn’t go without comment in their disgraceful backing of tory austerity they have been a hammered in the polls and rightly rejected yet we are left with the proper tories at least we know what this lot stand for and that is outright destruction of the working class if they get their way. As a disabled person I have been worrying all day what will happen to us come the next 5 years. Chills of dread have flooded me and the horrors of the last 5 years tell me with Tories on their own they can get away with so much more not that the Lib Dems stopped them with any of their brutal cuts but this time it feels we are facing the abyss in terms of our welfare state, our NHS and our public sector services. A total of 12 billion pounds is to be slashed from the welfare bill and this will I tell you now directly will hit the poorest the most vunrable in our society I fear for many of us I really do. A leak last week suggested the following cuts have already been drawn up by the Tories The proposed cuts included: • Limiting support to 2 children in child benefit and child tax credit, so cutting up to £3,500 from a family with three children. • Removing the higher rate child benefit from the first child, an average cut of over £360 for every family with children. • Means testing child benefit – cutting £1,750 for a two child middle income family • Removing child benefit from 16 to 19 year olds – a cut of over £1,000 for parents of a single child. The Conservatives have been under sustained pressure to detail how they will cut £12bn from the welfare budget by 2017-2018, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies think-tank confirmed this week the Tories have so far disclosed only 10% of these cut in the form of a two-year freeze in working age benefits. With further cuts to benefits surely on its way the DWP have wasted no time in outlining plans to slash the access to work scheme a benefit which is close to my heart and helps me every time I go to work. The attacks on this particular benefit already destroy the lie that the Tories are there to help the disabled in to work and in work they just do not care and are taking the axe to this next benefit. How it will affect me long term we will have to see but be sure I will not let any attacks on me working go unheard. In a piece in the independent tonight it is said. The DWP has moved further to examine cutting a scheme that helps disabled people into work – just hours after the Conservatives won the election. The fund helps people and employers cover costs of disabilities that might be a barrier to work. The biggest single users of the fund are people who have difficulty seeing and people who have difficulty hearing. A policy document originally quietly announced in March suggests capping the £108m Access to Work fund. An impact assessment of the policy was released on the day the general election results. “[Spending] has risen significantly over the past five years … One of the significant strategic questions we face is how to establish the right balance between the need to support as many disabled people as possible and what it is reasonable to offer individual users,” the assessment says. The first option outlined by civil servants in the document is “to set a cap on the maximum value of support per user”. The party's manifesto boats that "last year alone, 140,000 disabled people found work" but says that "the jobless rate for this group remains too high. "As part of our objective to achieve full employment, we will aim to halve the disability employment gap: we will transform policy, practice and public attitudes, so that hundreds of thousands more disabled people who can and want to be in work find employment," it pledges. The overall spend on Access to Work in 2013/14 was £108m, covering 35,540 people. • An earlier version of this story indicated that the policy had been announced in the hours after the general election result. In fact the impact assessment for the policy was issued in the hours after the general election result, while the policy itself was issued in the run up to the general election in March This is just a glimpse of the tories aims in this next 5 years. Be under no illusion they are coming for you and they will not give a stuff about who you voted for or anything. Its time to organise ourselvesin our communities find common allies and fightback in whichever way we can using any means at our desposable. We may never see the welfare state ever a gain if we do not fightback now. The last 5 years was justa warm up for what is coming next …..

Monday, 27 April 2015

Angry not apathetic: what anarchists do instead of voting

As the 2015 general election approaches, the Anarchist Federation explains the anarchist alternative to voting for social change. The general election is here, and once again the parties are all over us like a rash, promising that they will fix things. But you don’t have to be an anarchist to know that nothing changes, whoever gets in. This is why politicians are keen on new methods such as postal voting. Labour, Tory, Liberal Democrat, nationalist (Plaid Cymru, SNP, Sinn Fein), ‘principled’ or ‘radical’ (Green Party, or leftists in some alliance), or nationalist-racist (UKIP etc), the fundamentals of the system are the same. Whether we have the present electoral system or proportional representation, or however many people vote or don’t vote in an election or referendum, as we have just seen in Scotland, capitalism is at the driving wheel globally. As working class people, we are exploited whether we can take part in ‘free’ elections or live under an authoritarian regime. Capitalists and property owners continue to control the wealth that we create, and they protect it through the police, legal system, and military. You can’t complain Non-voters are told that, “If you don’t vote you can’t complain”. But voting under these circumstances is just pretending that the system we have is basically alright. It lets the winning party off the hook. The fact is, we have next to no say in the decisions that get taken by the people we elect. This is called ‘representative democracy’. Anarchists organise by ‘direct democracy’, where we can have a say in every decision, if we want to. We don’t put our power in someone else’s hands, so no one can betray us and abuse it. This really could work globally! Ask us how… Campaigning against voting A “don’t vote” campaign on its own is just as much a waste of time. The same goes for a protest vote for a leftist or novelty candidate. The time and money spent campaigning could be better used fixing some of the problems we face in our lives. Protesting, whether it is spoiling a ballot paper or marching in the street, fails to offer any real challenge. So, anarchists say, vote, or don’t vote. It won’t make any difference. What is more important, is to realise that elections prop up a corrupt system and divert us from winning real change. Don’t vote, organise! We should organise with our neighbours, workmates, other people we have shared interests with, and others who don’t have the privileges that some people have. We are the experts on what we need, and on the best way to run things for the common good. We need to use direct action to achieve this. Direct action is where we solve a problem without someone else representing us. By this we mean, not just protesting and asking for change, but things like occupying, sabotaging, working to rule, refusing to pay their prices or their rent, and striking (but not waiting for union leaders to tell us when we can and can’t!). For example, when workers aren’t paid the wages owed them, rather than asking the government to give us better legal protection, we take action to force employers to pay. The Department for Work & Pensions has even named the Anarchist Federation and the Solidarity Federation among groups that are a serious threat to workfare, because we have shut down programmes. This was achieved with only a few hundred people. Imagine what could be done with thousands! Taking it back In reality, people are understandably afraid of taking the state on. But direct action doesn’t have to mean an all-out fight to defeat capitalism in one go. Anarchists do think that ultimately, there has to be a full revolution. But by confronting the system directly at any point we can start to take control. In fact, all the good things we think of as having been created by the state – free health care, free education, health & safety laws to protect us at work, housing regulations, sick pay, unemployment benefits, pensions – came about historically to put an end to organised campaigns of collective direct action that threatened their power. And where we would fail as individuals, together we can win.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Hertford and Stortford Ware hustings General Election 2015-

As you may or may not know I’m not the biggest fan of elections. But this coming April the debating society I am a member of are hosting the local hustings for the coming general election. I am on the organising committee and am happy to help. As you may or may not know I’m in no political party at all and am increasingly turned off by all party’s whether they be soft left or hard left. I am struggling to mount any enthusiasm for any party to vote for. As an anarchist now I should not vote at all which I stand by I don’t think I will. But the local situation has obvious interests to me and I am happy to help out and organise a hustings if that is what people want. I feel it is fair and right that there is such an n event given the heightened awareness of politics in this current year. Whilst I can’t lend my support to any of the candidates standing I do wish them well as there is a financial cost and also a physical cost in terms of the work involved. In this hugely Tory Tory seat held by former housing minister MarkPrisk there is lots of hope from candidates hoping to make a dent in his 15 thousand odd majorities and I can’t see why not at present. I as people well know am no Tory supporter and detest all that they stand for but as it stands mark Prisk has not agreed to join in with the Ware general election hustings to be held in the Ware Drill Hall on the 24th of April starting at 7.30 pm all welcome and no entrance fee required. Standing for this seat will be the Labour party, Lib Dem's, UKIP, Greens and the sitting MP who is a tory as far as i know there is no one else at this stage . I have my views on the Tories and Mark Prisk as a person given the replies I have had from him and his office down the years in disagreement with many of his ideas and party policies but I would for democratic fairness like to see him turn up on the 24th of April. I would like to see him challenged and held to account as any MP or elected representative should be. We currently have no reason as to why Mark can’t attend but I do hope before the 24th he will reconsider and join the hustings with the other candidates who have been more than happy to get involved. As I said earlier I am part of a debating society called Cogers debating society which have continued the tradition of discussion and debate from a very very early time. We are proud to host such an event in Ware but we are aware how big this election could be on the whole. What happens in East Herts on the face of it may not matter too much but everyone in this area has a say and deserves to be heard. If they wish to turn up on the night they will be more than welcome and encouraged to join in and ask the candidates questions from the floor. As a libertarian socialist with roots in economic Marxism and the ideas of anarchism as a practise I am not against all elections as a rule just I am not sure we as a class, the working class can gain much from any bourgeois election. Even whilst I hold this view I still maintain a curiosity on how big elections go and who wins or forms the next government despite what we say will be a big thing and dictate how we react and take things forward as a militant class. Please attend the Ware General Election hustings if you can Venue: The drill Hall Ware, Hertfordshire, Amwell end Time: 7:30 pm start advice to get in early to gain seat Duration: roughly finishing at 10:00 pm with a scheduled interval at 9pm for an all to stretch legs or refresh yourself Hosted by: Ware society of Cogers Entrance: free to members of the public Time: 7.30 pm to 10 pm --- roughly Open to: all members of the public who wish to question the candidates for the Hertford and Stortford seat in the coming general election

Monday, 30 March 2015

Benefit scrounger rhetoric has gone too far now

Reading in the Telegraph today about a blind man who arranged a charity darts event to raise money for Guide Dogs for the blind has now been investigated by the DWP for frauding the system. This idea of scroungers has gone too far now and is causing unnecessary stress and unease on many innocent disabled people. This has got to end. The fact someone would report someone to the DWP for attempting to do normal things as a blind person so thinking they can’t be blind is a disgrace and brings real shame on us as a society. I know people who have been refused disabled benefits as they can walk to their local pub all be it in great pain but they do it because they wish to get out and socialize. If we are going to start going down this route of if you are not at home all the time practically bed ridden you are not disabled in the DWP's eyes. This incident roubles me greatly on many levels. It will send out the message that trying to live independent and be active in your community is not to be encouraged as you may be suspected as being on the take in terms of your benefits. What a ridiculous situation we are in. "A blind man who held a charity marathon darts event was investigated over benefit fraud because he was too good. Visually-impaired Robert Boon, 50, organised a ten-hour "arrow" throw to raise £500 to buy two guide dogs. Mr Boon is registered blind as he is completely blind in one eye and only able to see shadows in the other. He scored an impressive 61,000 points on the night by standing and playing darts on his own for ten hours. Mr Boon said due to the repetitive action of dart throwing he was able to maintain some degree of accuracy. But shortly after the event he was called to a meeting by the Department for Work and Pensions to assess his eligibility to claim benefits. He was stunned to discover a member of the public had reported him - claiming someone that good at darts could not possibly be blind. Robert Boon, of Paignton, Devon, said: "I got a letter saying I had to attend a meeting. "I felt humiliated because I don't think it is right to report me when I have tried to do something good. "I rang the hospital to get my medical records on my eye condition. I don't see why people should put me down. "I feel really intimidated now. I am registered blind and can't see virtually anything out of one eye and shadows in the other. "To be fair when I spoke to the DWP they said they would not be taking the benefits away. "I have other things lined up now including a comedy night and don't intend to stop." "It's only right that we investigate a person's benefit claim when we receive information that suggests they may not be entitled." Mr Boon held the charity event at Pond Coffee Shop in Paignton as part of a larger fundraising drive to raise £10,000 so he can buy two guide dogs. " For me this is deeply worrying and something which we should all be aware of. The deep suspicion in this country now that all disabled people if they show near normal signs of living are to be suspected as fraud is a troubling development. This links into disability hate crime where many more disabled people are being targeted due to the scroungers rhetoric coming from our dear media and politicians With extracts from the Daily Telegraph piece Peoples uncaring and untrusting attitudes worry me in this day and age, Where is this all leading, I dread to think.