Expropriate the landlords, build millions of council homes


WHEN the Tory Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, starts accusing his coalition government of ‘Kosovo-style social cleansing’ in the capital over the plans to smash up social housing, then it is clear that a huge crisis is developing.

What motivates Johnson, and his fellow London Tories, is fear of losing their jobs with a Mayoral election coming up.

Under the coalition’s plans the housing budget for England will be halved over the next four years, with council rents being increased to a massive 80 per cent of the rate charged by private landlords.

The main thrust of the government attack on housing benefit is a cap on the payments made by councils to private landlords for those in receipt of benefits. This of course includes not just the unemployed but low paid workers and the middle class who, with no council houses available, have been forced into the arms of the sharks who infest the private sector.

Housing Benefit will be capped at one third of the market rate.

No one believes that private landlords will drop their rents by two thirds, instead, they will opt – and have said so openly – for evictions on a mass scale.

In London it has been estimated by the boroughs that 82,000 families, representing more than 200,000 people, face eviction because private landlords will not cut rents.

Where these families will be dumped is anyone’s guess, work camps probably.

This all-out assault is accompanied by the intention to take away security of tenure from council tenants ending the right to a ‘home for life’ at affordable rents, a main feature of the welfare state established after the second world war.

In that period, under the pressure from a working class determined not to return to the days of destitution that marked the 1930s, the Labour government of the time sought to deal with the housing crisis through a massive building programme of affordable and decent council houses.

Successive Tory governments, starting with Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, sought to smash up the council house system, firstly through Thatcher’s notorious ‘right to buy’ scheme for council tenants.

This assault was bolstered by successive Tory and Labour governments who refused to build new council houses. Instead, they embarked on a campaign to completely destroy entire council estates and hand them over to the private sector – the leeches who are now looking to make a killing out of the middle classes who as a result of the crisis are no longer able to afford home ownership and are forced into rented accommodation.

There is no compromise possible over the housing crisis. Capitalism is destroying council housing in its entirety, so that the entire population can be handed over to the private landlords. This crisis can only be dealt with by revolutionary means.

This means the private landlords must be expropriated, and the building industry, along with the banks and building societies, nationalised.

A massive programme of council house building must begin, with rents kept at an affordable rate, and with jobs and training available for hundreds of thousands of workers and youth at trade union rates of pay.

This requires a workers government committed to a planned socialist economy where housing is a right for all, and not a privilege for the wealthy.

To achieve this government the trade unions must call an indefinite general strike to bring the coalition crashing down in a socialist revolution to transform society.