How to tackle London’s housing crisis

Jeremy Corbyn’s vision to rebuild and transform Britain can both tackle the housing crisis and win for Labour, writes Diane Abbott MP.

A study for the charity Shelter this week explained that one in three families in England could not pay their rent or mortgage for more than a month if they lost their job, with the reasons cited being high housing costs and a lack of personal savings. The YouGov survey questioned 8,381 adults, including 1,581 members of working families with children and its results painted a stark picture of the insecurity so many people face in Tory Britain today. Continue reading

Confessions of a Corbynista croissant muncher

CroissantWhen a freshly-appointed Baron feels able to devote his maiden speech in the upper house to a condescending de haut en bas attack on commoners for being too damn posh, it’s entirely clear that Britain’s outdated honours system produces some rather rum results. But such was the lack of self-awareness on display when former Labour MP Lord Watts waded into the Corbyn supporters for constituting a “London-centric hard left political class who sit around in their £1m mansions eating their croissants at breakfast and seeking to lay the foundations for a socialist revolution.”

Nor is the he only prominent figure on the Labour right out to depict those of us who back the leadership as effete ineffectual trendies, condemned never to lift anything heavier than a pepper mill as we add condiments to our delicious gluten-free wholemeal vegan pasta and aubergine bake. Take Gary Smith, GMB’s Scottish secretary. Smith argues that the only people behind Jezza on Trident are “professional posers” busy playing “student politics” while “sipping lattes in Islington”.

Because, you know, we denizens of N1 like nothing better than a exquisite organic Kopi Luwak to accompany our morning artisan-baked Viennoiserie. For us, it is as natural a match as bread and dripping is for the sturdy blue collar masses that we are asked to believe make up the natural constituency monopolised by Progress and Labour First. Continue reading

Trade union shows how not to consult its members on London Mayoralty

People Not Profit March in central London.

People Not Profit March in central London.

So far the selection of the candidate for London Mayor has left much to be desired. A selection process was imposed on London that no section of the party in London wanted – not the trade unions, not the constituency parties, not the regional board of the party. Then the process was designed as if to minimise the number of trade union levy payers who could be recruited in time to participate. When the timetable for all other internal party ballots was adjusted (in line with the leadership election timetable) to give adequate time after the general election for nominations, that for London Mayor alone was left as it was.  Now one of the biggest trade unions affiliated to the Labour party has adopted a process that makes a nonsense out of the Labour rule which requires that “all nominees should have fair and equal opportunity to seek selection“. Continue reading

Can you blame Sadiq Khan for wanting his cake and eating it?

Sadiq Khan facing two waysSadiq Khan was a former radical human rights lawyer and doing a good job as shadow secretary for justice when he also became shadow minister for London, and responsible for running the general election campaign in London. Perhaps it is too much to expect any politician who wants to be London’s mayor to turn down such an opportunity just because it would give an unfair advantage.

But if you take the opportunity and are the approved candidate of your party’s still-well-oiled political machine, you might choose to get someone else to deliver lectures to other candidates for mayor about focussing on the general election campaign rather than diverting resources from it. But not if you’re Sadiq Khan. Is that honest, or foolish? Continue reading

20,000 London bus workers go on strike – with the public on their side

B7Omg--CIAAcsRlPicket lines were in place across London’s 70 bus garages today as over 20,000 bus workers working for 18 bus operators take part in a 24 hour strike to end unfair pay disparities across the capital’s bus network. With very solid support for the strike the bus workers’ union Unite urged TfL and the mayor of London to “bang the bus operators’ heads together” to get them to sit down collectively with the union to resolve the dispute.

There are over 80 different pay rates covering London’s bus drivers, doing the same job, even driving the same route but for different rates of pay. In contrast to tube drivers, there isn’t one collective pay deal for bus drivers in the capital, whose pay is negotiated on a company by company basis leading to pay inequality and disparities.  Unite says a refusal by the operators to address pay inequality has led to pay gaps of over £3 an hour for new starters opening up, with pay varying from £9.30 to £12.34 an hour depending on the company. Continue reading