Breaking news - Shadow housing minister resigns
Breaking news - John Healey resigns
Housing shadow minister John Healey has joined the resignations along with his team. Just at the time when it is vital to build a really vigorous campaign to stop the vicious new housing act! Many housing workers and housing camapigners will see this as a distraction. The resignation came today (Monday) as part of planned series of resignations by Labour shadow ministers aimed at destabilising the Labour leadership.
The plotters complain that Labour needs to make more progress - Labour could make more progress by campaigning for effective rent control and a massive council house building programme. Those policies may “lack credibility” for people in the Westminster bubble but in order to connect working class voters it will be vital to adopt a radical anti austerity programme along those lines.
Plotters have avoided putting their programme
The plotters have avoided putting an alternative programme because they sense how unpopular it would be. John Healy’s major policy initiative has been to set up a policy commission on home ownership headed by the boss of the construction firm Taylor Wimpey. This company reported record profits and was able to pay a special dividend to its share holders this year. Explaining this, its annual report points to the financial support for private house builders from the government. The boss of this firm was not the ideal figure to develop a radical Labour policy on home ownership!
Our Unite housing branch is keen to work with tenants and the growing movement fighting the housing act and cuts in housing provision. We have supported Jeremy Corbyns housing policies from the beginning of his campaign last year; they are in line with Unite’s policy and they promise a break from the neoliberal consensus which has caused the appalling housing crisis we face today. The housing act introduces measures that fail to address the housing crisis and will be deeply unpopular; we urgently need to build a massive campaign to fight back. The pledge by Islington council not to implement the act is welcome. If Labour councils take such a stand they will attract huge support from working class communities.
Tories in crisis
Too many Labour MPs have chosen the moment when the Tories are in crisis and we strike a blow against austerity to attack the elected leader of their party. Lucy Powell MP, speaking on the BBC today programme, said that the trade unions should mind their own business – sadly that is typical of the arrogance of these MPs.
Unites Len McCluskey has raised the question of reselection; the union has not so far supported the call for mandatory reselection: “...But those MPs who have missed no opportunity to tweet and brief against the party’s elected leader over the last 10 months will find that their disloyalty finds no favour with party members and will make this an increasingly difficult line to hold.”
A radical housing programme can enthuse working class voters and young people - that is what is needed to win an election. Unite housing workers will be keen to work with MPs who are prepared take up this campaign.
Comment from Paul Kershaw
See Branch Committee statement and links on the challenge to Jeremy Corbyn here
See information on the Houisng Act here