The Labour Party has again showed its utter contempt for working-class people, relying on the forces of ‘law and order’ to deal with council tenants protesting against the planned privatisation of their homes.
At a recent meeting of Haringey council in North London, newly elected Labour mayor Sheila Peacock called in the police when protesters refused to leave the public gallery without being allowed to put their case against the setting up of an Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) in the borough.
ALMOs – which housing campaigners have dubbed ‘ALMOst privatisation’ – are a form of backdoor sell-off which leave local authorities in nominal control of housing stock while breaking it into smaller units as a prelude to full-scale privatisation.
In neighbouring Islington, where tenants were conned by council propaganda into voting for an ALMO, plans are already afoot to flog three estates to housing associations.
The 50 or so protesters from Haringey Defend Council Housing had given formal notice that they wanted to send a deputation to the council to warn of similar consequences in their own borough.
When the mayor refused to see them, they began chanting “No to privatisation!” from the balcony and succeeded in halting the meeting for half an hour.
Councillors from the Lib Dem ‘opposition’ benches tried to cash in on the protest, expressing support for the anti-privatisation struggle – until it was pointed out that across the road in Islington, where they are in charge, they had voted for ALMOs and flogged off everything but the kitchen sink.
Campaigners vowed to keep up the battle in defence of “affordable, accountable council housing” and to continue demanding direct government investment with no strings attached.
Deputy premier John Prescott – recently put in charge of combating fat – is nonetheless careful to look after the fat cats.
He has pledged to completely eliminate local authority housing by 2010, but Haringey tenants have a proud record of fighting back and winning. During the first sell off bid four years ago, the council postponed a ballot of the tenants nine times, knowing it couldn’t win. It was finally forced to back down altogether and concede defeat.
The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) stands shoulder-to-shoulder with tenants and council worker trade unionists in this fight. We can win the next round, as we won the last, and in the process help build up the confidence and fighting spirit that will move us that little bit closer to the decisive battle – the battle for socialism.