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Raquel Rolnik has hit the government on a sore point, and it really shows

Raquel RolnikI must start with a confession. I really don’t like Grant Shapps who for some reason is the Tory party chair. He comes across as a haughty up-market barrow boy who’d tread on his mother’s face if he thought it would advance his career or turn in a bigger profit. You know what I mean – heartless, callous and downright nasty. However, I must admit I hadn’t realised before that he’s also got a very thin skin.

He really doesn’t like anybody criticising him or his party. He doesn’t turn a hair at propagating a policy of social cleansing, evicting families for having a spare room when their child died. Nor when their son has been killed in Afghanistan (as happened to one of my constituents). Nor because someone’s disability required a second bedroom. But when an official UN rapporteur comes to Britain, with an agenda organised by the UK government, and uses the phrase ‘bedroom tax’ rather than the government’s gobbledigook ’ending the spare room subsidy’, he goes ape. Strange man – obviously caught the Tory germ of overweening arrogance rather young.

Shapps complained she hadn’t met the relevant ministers or officials. She had: she met Pickles and his junior minister, she asked to meet DWP ministers, and more than half of her meetings were with government officials. Shapps claimed, shamefully, that she hadn’t researched her subject adequately. In fact she had dozens of meetings with tenant organisations, food banks, welfare centres and local authority personnel. So Shapps’ complaints are all claptrap. What really got under his skin was that Rolnik had the temerity to say, as a special UN rapporteur, what everyone here knows perfectly well already, namely that the bedroom tax should be suspended until a full re-evaluation had been carried out of its impact on the right to adequate housing and general well-being of many vulnerable individuals”.

Then Shapps made a slip. He said that the UK’s legal system had already ruled that the policy ending the bedroom tax was lawful. But Raquel wasn’t claiming it was unlawful. She was saying it was unjust and damaging to the welfare of many vulnerable people, and she was right. She was saying that housing benefit caps would make moving into privately rented accommodation increasingly difficult for the low-paid, and she was right. She was saying that homes now were allowed to stand empty in London, but also elsewhere, because they had been invested in as financial assets by the super-rich from abroad, and she was doubly right.

What Rolnik has done, wicked as it may seem to this government, is puncture Mr. Shapps’ overbearing arrogance by telling the truth.


  1. Rob the cripple says:

    Sadly of course the media have pronounced this lady to be a commie socialist, and some how I suspect she will be deemed this by both the Tories and Newer labour.

    She and you are right of course the Bed room spare room tax is wrong I’m seeing my council being drowned in requests for smaller homes but also bigger houses are not being taken my council has stated it cannot rent out four and five bedroom houses now because once a child leaves you could end up in serious problems.

    Here is a good one I live in a Bungalow it’s tiny it has a tiny small kitchen, a living room, dinning room and one bedroom. The new rules state the dinning room is in fact a spare room since you can eat your meals in the living room no kidding my bungalow is now deemed two bedroom. At the moment I’m going through a review because on my agreement it states one bedroom. but still the dinning room we are told is a spare room how can it be spare.

    This is like everything else a means of cutting from the poor to help the rich and what do the Labour party come out with no a lot really until this week.

    How sad but most of the public do not see the Labour party as the party of the working or un-working class these days they are the party of the well off poor squeezed middle class..

  2. ShirleyKnott says:

    Rob, take a look at this site, and the blog posts here:
    In one of them, if the renter (social or private) describes the property as x bedrooms, the various councils accept that as ‘law’ – maybe yours is among them, and only hairsplitting to save a few more farthings! There’s potentially a lot of help there – tell others too.

  3. Rob the cripple says:

    I help out at a well known charity who deal with housing issues daily. We also deal with issues with ESA and next PIP’s.

    Sadly the issues of what they think is an extra room is becoming seriously mixed up even judges are now having problems knowing what is a room a box room or a bed room.

    What we need to know is simple will labour dump this so called tax no maybe or if the economy allows but yes we will.

  4. Rob the cripple says:

    Back in moderation you can of course ask me to leave no problem….

  5. Anthony says:

    What a pity that she didn’t mention the disgusting Personal Independence Payments.

  6. Harry Paterson says:

    Might we be permitted to know who wrote this excellent article? I see no author name anywhere.

    1. Jon Lansman says:

      Harry Paterson: Michael Meacher wrote it. On Left Future’s the author’s name appears above the article on the home page but below the page on the continuation page.

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