Monday, June 20, 2016

The EU Referendum (Part 2)


It feels strange knowing that in just a few days, I could end up losing my EU citizenship. It’s something that’s difficult to really conceive of, yet it could be reality by Friday. 

Of course, in the event of a Brexit vote, it’s unlikely that we would “lose” our EU citizenship straight away as the result of the referendum is announced. Things don’t really work like that. Instead, we would have a torturous two years of negotiations or so before we finally have EU citizenship rescinded. UK passports would be replaced with new ones, sans the wording ‘European Union’ (which would cost huge amounts of money in itself), and the bit inside the passport where it says ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland passport’ in all the EU’s official languages (there’s a lot of them).


The UK and the EU would then go to loggerheads as to how the UK would be able to access the Single Market. The EU would almost certainly demand in return that the UK join the Schengen area, guaranteeing freedom of movement across most of the continent, which – as I’ve pointed out previously – includes non-EU countries Iceland, Norway, and (for now) Switzerland (the latter of whom are at continual loggerheads with the EU over immigration). The UK would be unwilling to join the Schengen zone, fearing a backlash from its own population, and particularly from Leave voters, many of whom (but not all) voted for a Brexit precisely to put a cap on immigration numbers – or simply to stop immigration to the UK altogether. 


In this scenario, it’s not unrealistic to see the UK completely isolating itself from the rest of Europe, and in so doing, cutting itself off from its main export market. The result would almost certainly be recession, at least in the short-term. Leave supporters like to point out that the EU and Europe are too different things, and that people conflate an alliance of nations with a continent. Yet we really would be isolating ourselves from Europe here.
Then there would be the thorny question of what would happen to the many citizens from other EU countries resident in the UK, who have not took British citizenship, and for those UK citizens living in other EU nations. Would EU citizens be allowed to stay if they have been here for a specified number of years? Would they need ‘points’ according to their job history? And would the EU nations respond in kind to UK residents living in their country if the UK decided to 'expel' EU citizens?


Leave don’t have any idea about these questions. Much of the answers to the above would have to be negotiated. No-one knows what the outcomes would be. That’s the problem with Brexit. I don’t know. You don’t know. No-one knows. It’s a huge step in the dark. Vote for that if you have no worries about the future and have made your millions. But for those, like me, with not much money and a desire for a stable jobs market in which to proceed, it is not worth the risk. The EU may not be perfect, but Brexit would be no friend to the working-class, struggling to improve their lives. Instead, Brexit would usher in a bonfire of working time regulations, along with privatisation of the NHS - ironically, one of the subjects that the Leave campaign have claimed would be in peril if we stay in the EU. They're wrong.


Vote Remain, in other words. In terms of stability and prosperity, you know it makes sense.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The EU Referendum (Part 1)


There’s about three weeks to go until a referendum in the UK on whether the country wants to stay in the European Union. I’ve been meaning to write a post about it for a while, but have been on holiday (in mainland Europe, fittingly) and preoccupied with other issues up until now. I’ve already written a blog post in the past on why I think we should stay in the EU, and I still believe that now, in light of the referendum.

The charge that Eurosceptics lay at the EU’s feet is that is overly bureaucratic and unaccountable. While this is not entirely untrue – for example, the unnecessarily costly expense of moving regularly from Brussels to Strasbourg - it’s worth pointing out that many problems with democracy also plague the UK political system. The House of Lords (HoL), the upper chamber of Parliament, remains unaccountable, with around 790 sitting lords. This includes twenty-six bishops and 92 hereditary peers, the latter of whom have inherited their position from the family line (hereditary peerage once extended to everyone in the HoL, but was curtailed under the House of Lords Act 1999). The vast majority of those peers are men; incredibly, in this day and age, the vast majority of these peerages can only be inherited by men (there are women in the HoL, but they are outnumbered by men). The remaining members of the HoL are life peers, who are also not elected by the public, but rather are appointed. 


Along with the anachronistic First-Past-The-Post voting system (FPTP) still operating in general elections, but not in devolved Scotland, this makes me a lot annoyed than the machinations of the EU referendum. The reply from those whom advocate the UK leaving the EU is that the House of Lords cannot be compared to the EU due to the fact that the HoL does not make laws, but rather only scrutinises them. The purpose of the HoLs in general is to analyse bills. To which the response should be that there should be no problem in changing the layout of the HoL, then. Yet the prospect of having a referendum on this is never seriously entertained.


Leaving the UK could result in the disintegration of the UK. If a Brexit occurs, pro-EU forces in Scotland could find their demand for another referendum on Scotland remaining in the UK taking on a new momentum. It’s not too far-fetched to suggest that one of the reasons (along with the uncertainty of the currency question in the event of independence) that Scotland voted to stay in the UK in the referendum in 2014 was because of the fear of an independent Scotland being ‘outside’ the EU – i.e., a non-member state - and having to reapply as a new member. If Brexit happened, and Scotland subsequently declared independence before then joining the EU as a new member-state, the result could be a physical land border between Scotland and the rest of the UK via the border between Scotland and England. It would also mean a physical border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, sealing off two communities who currently share a Common Travel Area.


The EU, while far from perfect, has attempted to stop EU members from trading with the appalling Saudi regime, and has attempted to cap bankers’ bonuses following the financial crash. Both have been resisted by the UK, and it’s difficult to see how a UK outside the EU would be any different in its dealings.


EU legislation has led to cleaner beaches, cleaner air (though it may not feel like it in London), tangible workers rights, and a whole host of positive environment policies, including restrictions on landfill dumping. It has funded projects the length and breadth of the UK via grants, improving infrastructure and pouring money into neglected areas.


Eurosceptics have often cited, and continue to cite, the likes of Iceland, Norway and Switzerland  - three European countries not in the EU - as examples to follow. These economies are all prosperous, and have some of the best standards of living in the world, but they are not necessarily examples to the UK due to their differences in many ways. All have small populations. All are high-tax economies (hence the high cost of things when visiting those countries). However, on top of their high taxes funding the state, Norway also manages a huge sovereign oil wealth fund, one that has been carefully built up over the years, in contrast to the UK, which has frittered away all the profits from its own oil in the North Sea on tax breaks for the rich. Switzerland, with a population of around 8 million, has an economy mostly based around slightly murky banking laws. Iceland, meanwhile, has a tiny population and an economy orientated towards fishing and geothermal energy.


All are worth admiring in their own way. But they remain different to the UK. Furthermore, in order to access the Single Market, they have to remain members of the Schengen Area, despite not being members of the EU. This would not be a model for the UK post-Brexit, with Eurosceptics making clear that they are opposed to freedom of movement from Europe, and of the UK joining the Schengen Area.


Instead, a post-Brexit UK would find itself isolated in negotiations with the EU. These negotiations would be intense and torturous, unravelling 80,000 pages of EU agreements and decades of legislation. Both sides would be fighting their own corner, with the EU in a tense state, having seen a large member vote to leave, while at the same time concerned that a Brexit might encourage pour les autres in the remaining EU to have their own referendums. There is no guarantee that it would be willing to give any ground in striking a deal with the UK. In contrast, the UK currently has the best of both worlds inside the EU: it has managed to remain inside the Single Market while at the same time gaining opt-outs on joining the Euro, the Schengen Area, and the rebate. The latter opt-out is seldom mentioned by Eurosceptics, when mentioning how much money the UK ‘puts in’ to the EU, while failing to account for how much ‘comes back’ to the UK.


Eurosceptics also mention that a vote to Remain is somehow a ‘vote for neo-liberalism’, ‘for the Tories’, or for ‘big business’. These arguments belie the fact that many on the Brexit side are just as likely to favour big corporations, cutting red tape, and the rolling back of employment rights. Two members want the death penalty returned to the UK. It is not hyperbolic to suggest that, outside the EU, they would be perfectly placed to try and enact such regressive laws if they thought they had license to. Boris Johnson has been assiduous in helping foreign money pile into property in London, in turn pricing out local communities, while cynically joining the Brexit campaign as part of a scheming bid to become the next Prime Minister. He remains a Tory at heart, of course, just as the Conservatives are divided over the referendum; hence the spectacle of the party falling apart before our own eyes at the moment. Therefore, in no way can it be said that voting to Remain is somehow giving a ‘thumbs-up’ or ‘tactical approval’ to the Conservatives. Instead, you could argue that voting Remain allies the voter with the other main parties – Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, and the SNP in Scotland – who all back the UK staying in the EU.


Then there is the claim that voting to remain in the EU is ‘a vote for TTIP’ or for Turkey becoming an EU member state. The former, which for those who don’t know stands for Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, remains a difficult trade agreement to summarise; one way of summing it up is that it would be negative for local businesses in Europe. What’s important is that it has been contested all over Europe, with demonstrations having taken place against it all over Germany. Such is the ill-feeling towards TTIP throughout populations in the EU that it would be extremely difficult for it to take effect in EU legislation without protest at large. EU officials would be wary of seeing yet more antagonisms on the streets of EU nations after already explosive demonstrations by the public in austerity-strapped Southern European nations. A watered-down version of TTIP could appear, but it would still be contested. Meanwhile, the latter point has been one seized on by the Leave campaigners, ignoring the fact that the prospect of Turkey joining the EU remains far into the future, if at all. There are thousands of pages of legislation that would have to be negotiated, and which Turkey would have to accede to, before Turkey makes any steps towards joining, in a process that would lead beyond 2020, and which would have to be ratified by all member states. That includes Greece and Cyprus, both member states, who are likely to veto Turkey’s EU membership over their continual dispute with the country over divided Cyprus. It’s likely too that many EU countries would be concerned at the EU’s borders extending to the borders of Iraq and Syria, and could also weld a veto accordingly.


There are some good reasons to consider Brexit. The impact of EU common fisheries policy on communities, for example (a key reason why Iceland has chosen not to join). Old left-wing leaders such as Tony Benn feared the EU for its facelessness, just as he disliked the unelected upper chamber of Parliament. But in my view these are still outnumbered by remaining what is still the largest trading federation in the world, even despite the Eurozone crisis in southern Europe  – one that has (mostly) managed to unite a Europe that was once split by the iron curtain. By pooling sovereignty as a result of being a member of the EU, the UK has not lost the majority of its independence; indeed, the UK has it better than many other EU nations via the opt-outs mentioned above. It is thus in a unique position – and one that would be a tragedy to discard.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Apologies for lack of posts lately; more will be coming soon. In the meantime, here are some details on two concerts that I am promoting in conjunction with Pennyblackmusic.

Both are at The Sebright Arms in east London (it is definitely Sebright rather than Seabright - I checked; furthermore, Googling the name appears to bring up this). The Sebright Arm's address is 31-35 Coate Street, London, E2 9AG (map). GoodnightLondon will be at both.

Saturday 12 March 2016

























Cult 60s legend headlines, responsible for the great 'lost' album 'The Nightmare of JB Stanislas'.
In support, electro/acoustic duo Raf and O, and newcomers Partisan Waves.
£7 from here, £8 on door; link has a more detailed synopsis of acts
8pm

Friday 15th April 2016

























A Stereogram Recordings Night

Pennyblackmusic and GoodnightLondon are bringing the influential Edinburgh-based label Stereogram Recordings to London and three of its best acts - The Band of Holy Joy, The Cathode Ray and Roy Moller - on one stage.


£8 from here, £9 on door; link has a more detailed synopsis of acts.
8pm

Thursday, November 19, 2015



So this writer has just returned to cold, foggy and rainy London from an extended break in warm California, hence the delay in getting anything up here (some pictures from that visit will be up soon). I noticed while I was away that a certain incident that took place at the Cereal Killer Cafe on Brick Lane, a place near me that's become a symbol of gentrification (on which I've written about already here). Advertised on Facebook as the 'third Fuck Parade', The Cafe was targeted by hundreds of anti-gentrification protesters, who set off a smoke bomb and threw furniture inside the doorway.
On the face of it, a small, independent cafe selling overpriced cereal seems a strange target in protests against gentrification. The Facebook page for the protests ranted: "Our communities are being ripped apart – by Russian oligarchs, Saudi sheiks, Israeli scumbag property developers, Texan oil-money twats and our own home-grown Eton toffs. Local authorities are coining it in, in a short-sighted race for cash by ‘regenerating’ social housing."
There's no doubt that property speculation in London - which often involves rich oligarchs and businessmen buying property in London as an investment, and then leaving said property empty, or nearly empty, in order to make profits – is a serious contributor to the housing bubble in London, and by extension the housing crisis, exacerbating social inequality and driving those on a modest income out of London (and it's not just London that is facing a housing crisis, either). Near where I grew up in Stamford Hill, the Woodberry Down Estate, a giant council estate overlooking the East and West Reservoirs, is now undergoing a vast transformation, leading to million-pound luxury apartments. A number have been bought by wealthy Singaporean investors, with no guarantee that they'll actually live in the apartments.
This is capitalism taken to its extreme, leaving communities behind in its wake. By contrast, to then obsess over a bunch of trendy independent cafes and shops in east London – even if one does serve overpriced cereal – seems perverse (though in fairness the protesters did target an estate agents down the road). The independent cafes and cycle bars that have been sneered at have become part of a cliched image of trendy parts of London, full of the usual predictable babble about 'hipsters' – handlebar moustaches, beards, tattoos, craft beer, etc.
These places might annoy some, but in fact are not what should be the real target of people's ire. The real target of the protestors' anger should be those high-street retailers who have managed to avoid paying full corporation tax. That means the likes of Starbucks and Cafe Nero, along with a number of online giants, from Amazon, Ebay, and Google, who have done the same (disclaimer: I actually use Ebay, despite knowing that it is a tax avoider). Yet there seems to be little physical protest outside both these groups of companies, both 'physical' and online. In contrast, the majority of 'hipsters' are probably not tax-avoiders, and it's unlikely that the majority own multiple properties (admittedly I am just speculating here, but I'm guessing that I'm probably right). In addition, in fairness, some high-street multinationals do pay full corporation tax (Ethical Consumers has a list of how much each high-street chain pays).
Going back to the protesters, it seems bizarre that they did not assemble around the various branches of those high-street retailers, given their ubiquity in east London. You can barely go down a street in London without viewing a Pret, Starbucks, or Cafe Nero. Small, independent business in East London often charge slightly more because of having to pay over the odds for rent in an increasingly pricey area; because they have to pay full tax rather than resort to the kind of 'creative accounting' that large multi-nationals can employ; and because they have to pay their staff despite not having the same profits of high-street chains.
What really needs to be addressed in the long-run is a global problem of Governments (of which the British Government is one of the worst offenders) being unable to address tax havens, which multi-national companies then exploit as a loophole. The issue of global tax avoidance is a hugely complicated area, and a legal minefield, but one that will not go away when discussing local issues of community and gentrification. The situations in which Amazon can pay very little corporation tax, while the local bookshop down the road from you has closed, remain related. Meanwhile, if Amazon did pay tax at the same rate as Lush, a high-street cosmetics chain that does pay full corporation tax, that would lead to a revenue of something like £100m a year which the Treasury, and thus British Government, could spend on social services – including, as this article points out, five secondary schools. That's just one of several Internet giants, who between them generate colossal amounts of revenue from tax avoidance that could instead be spent on social services and infrastructure.
Seen in this light, the Cereal Killer Cafe is but a drop in the ocean. But due to its visibility, it has become an obvious, if misguided, target.
In addition, the British Government specifically needs to address the fact that it has brazenly allowed the aforementioned property speculation, turning a blind eye to foreign investors leaving property empty at a time when there is a housing crisis in the city. The only realistic solution – proposed by Islington Council a while ago, to their credit - is to levy huge charges on any property that it left longer than around six months. This has to be done, and should be a policy that Labour under Corbyn will promise for their next General Election manifesto. That includes one building not far from me, next to Wesley's Chapel and Leysian Mission and Bunhill Fields on City Road, which has been lying empty for around twenty years. It was squatted for a while (I even went to a squat party there once), but has now been lying there empty for years. Nothing seems to be done about this house, which could be converted to affordable local flats. It's just one of many buildings that are lying empty while rents rise to unaffordable levels, ripping apart communities and leading to ever more people being priced out of the capital.

Sunday, August 23, 2015


For the last few months, I have been involved in volunteering for an organisation called On The Record, a co-operative based in London who are interested in oral and visual history. The project I have been specifically involved with is called A Hackney Autobiography, and focuses on the history of Centerprise, an organisation that was based in Hackney from its inception in the early 70s to around 2012 – a period of 40 years.
My father was involved in Centerprise in the 70s, and I was raised in Hackney, so the project has had some personal dimensions for me. I went to secondary school right near where Centerprise was based, in Dalston, and remember going there as a child.
It's easy to forget, strolling around Hackney now - with its myriad bars and coffee shops, and trendy-looking young population – just what it was like at the beginning of the 70s. To give you some perspective, when Centerprise opened its doors, there was not a single bookshop in the entire borough. There were libraries, obviously, but no bookshops – a remarkable statistic given that Hackney had and has a population of roughly 200,000. Stoke Newington Bookshop had yet to open. Not only did Centerprise introduce a cafe and a bookshop (below) together – something that was a regular feature in founder Glenn Thompson's native USA – but it also housed an advice centre, a reading centre, a publishing project, youth club, creche, and more. In addition, many groups, ranging from female-dominated collectives such as the Hackney Flashers to Chilean exiles from Pinochet's brutal regime in that country, took advantage of Centerprise's free meeting spaces. 


Centerprise bookshop. Photo by Ken Worpole
This was highly unusual in a Hackney which at that time remained desolate, largely ungentrified and working-class, with large swathes of unemployment. In contrast to the insanity of today's London housing boom, there was plenty of dilapidated housing and declining industry in Hackney during that period, much of which was taken over by squatters. The 70s was a dark time for not just Hackney, but for London and the rest of the UK as a whole. The economy remained in recession, framed against the backdrop of the 1973 oil crisis. In the late 70s, around the time I was being born, the 'Winter of Discontent' hit. Successive bin strikes ensured that rubbish lined the street as abnormally freezing weather hit. Three day working weeks were introduced to conserve electricity. It's almost unthinkable today, given the ubiquity of technology, but for some of the 70s television companies had to cease broadcasting at 10:30pm – again to conserve technology.
Operating with this as a context, Centerprise's publishing project allowed local working people's voices to be heard, with books released chronicling Hackney history and the autobiographies of those who had lived in the area for a lifetime. In addition, Centerprise Publishing Project released editions of poetry by local students, as well as housing left-learning publications such as Hackney Action and the Hackney People's Press. This flurry of activity was conducted while Centerprise was being operated as a collective co-operative, in the true spirit of the time. Every Monday, staff would meet and collectively make decisions on the running of Centerprise, with a rotating of duties. Many other organisations operated in a similar manner during those halcyon, heady, politicised days as the 70s blurred into the early 80s, reflected in the tense post-punk of the time (Gang of Four, The Slits, The Raincoats, Scritti Politti, Joy Division, and other acts too numerous to reel off) that was released from labels like Rough Trade (itself a co-operative), Factory, Mute, and many others. Feminism, anti-nuclear demonstrations (the CND were at the peak of their popularity) during the Cold War era, squatting and anarchism (exemplified by anarcho-punk bands such as Crass) were all prevalent during the period.
I got in touch with On The Record after writing, first, an article on an exhibition at Bishopsgate Insitute by OTR showing images of orators at Speaker's Corner; and then on Centerprise itself (the latter of which can be viewed below – there's also an extended version of the article here).




For the project, I have been based at Bishopsgate Institute, near Liverpool Street Station, which contains a huge archive of material relating to London, scanning much of the books released by the Centerprise Publishing Project, and archiving the seemingly inexhaustible various documents that have came our way relating to Centerprise – everything from old copies of Hackney Action to photographs, letters, and assorted ephemera.
I have also been researching numerous photos of Hackney during the 70s and 80s – the period that the project is particularly interested in – at the Hackney Archives on Dalston Lane, and have took part in workshops mapping the history of Hackney, and of events surrounding Centerprise and related to it.

These workshops led to a presentation by myself and another volunteer of the history of protest and confrontation in Hackney, beginning at the end of the World War II with revolts by The 43 Group – an anti-fascist group set up by Jewish ex-servicemen in London - against the fascist agitator Oswald Mosley, whose Union Movement rallies in Ridley Road (now famous for its multicultural street market) were disrupted by the group. Various battles against Mosley's 'blackshirts' had culminated in the infamous Battle of Cable Street a decade earlier, when Mosley was leader of the British Union of Fascists.
Meanwhile, in the 70s, there would be repeated battles between anti-fascists (including the Anti-Nazi League) and the National Front, who had essentially inherited the raison d'etre of Mosley's mob, in Hoxton and Shoreditch. Again, given the gentrification of these areas today, with Old Street's nightlife strip and the seemingly never-ending night traffic, it seems difficult to imagine that in the 70s, these ares were desolate, violent places, on the frontline of these battles. The connection drawn between The 43 Group and Centerprise was that Centerprise Publishing Project would go on to publish a book on the history of the 43 Group in the early 90s (below).



From this, we focused on how Sandringham Road, in Dalston, had become another frontline of tension – this time between the local police and the West Indian community, after a raid on a local cafe. Related to this, we documented cases where a number of young black men had died in mysterious circumstances in Stoke Newington Police Station during the 80s, such as Colin Roach and Michael Ferreira.
The presentation can be heard below. 





The project will culminate in a book, a website and an app, which will map the history of Centerprise in Hackney. Links will be posted on here.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


It's been just under a month and a half since the Conservatives were re-elected to power in the UK, and two months since I've posted here (apart from the mention in a post below about a night I promoted at The Macbeth). I came back from a week-long trip to Berlin on the day before the election in early May, vaguely hopeful that the UK may be on the cusp of change. Instead, the Conservatives swept to power without even needing to resort to a coalition Government via the anachronistic First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) voting system – one that most of the rest of Europe has seen the sense in avoiding in national elections.
At the same time as Berlin has voted through a rent cap law in the last few weeks, Tory voters have effectively voted to continue an economy tied to housing – a resource that, comparatively speaking to the UK's population, and like oil, is set to become more and more scarce (at least to much of the population). The housing crisis in the UK is somewhat symbolic of how housing has become the defining asset of the 21st century. While the UK, and London in particular, is one of the worst offenders, we are seeing the issue of unaffordable housing repeated in most of the world's desirable major cities – whether those be New York, Paris, Tokyo, or Sydney, as well as with smaller but densely populated and equally desirable cities in mainland Europe such as Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Oslo, and Stockholm.
The Tories' continued dominance is reflected in the fact that they remain the party of the property-owning class. What is obvious is that it's not the interests of the property-owing classes to see (a) new property built (unless that new property is obscenely expensive) and (b) rent caps imposed on existing property, as this would devalue their own portfolio.
To clarify, by 'property-owning' class, I do not mean those who are asset rich but cash poor (such as people like my parents, who own one house in an increasingly desirable area of London). Owning only one small property to rent out at a reasonable rate is not the target here. Rather, the 'property-owning' class refers to those who have multiple properties and derive their main income from it. Labour under Miliband would have introduced not only rent caps and a freeing up of empty land for new property but mansion taxes – all moves in their own way that would have harmed the interests of the property-owning class. Such a move who have also affected the international super-rich, the coterie of people with such extreme wealth that they have been able to indulge in the practice of buying up property in central London as an investment, and leaving it empty in order to benefit from the price rise. This practice has been a recurring feature of the last fifteen years – one that has led to a domino effect, in which families are consequently pushed out of an inner-city area, and forced as a result to relocate to a suburb, in turn pushing up the prices of housing there. The result of this practice has been that much of central London has turned into a ghost town, while the rest of the capital has surged in cost.
You can argue that this practice hypothetically should remain a self-defeating paradox for the Tories, as it leads to less of the general population able to penetrate the housing market – one of the main drivers of the nation's economy - and stymies the prospects of future generations. But that would ignore the fact that it has remained the objective of the Tories to see house prices and property remain as high as possible. This situation has been exacerbated by the UK's approach to new housing, one that has been geared towards constraining the supply of land for development, along with so-called attitudes of 'NIMBY'-ism ('Not In My Back Yard'), in contrast to Germany's 'right-to-build' approach (read here for more). This is precisely why it's not just London that is expensive to live in in the UK, but Oxford, Cambridge, Brighton, Bath, and certain other cities too (along with the fact that these cities are generally desirable to live in for a variety of reasons).
You could argue, of course, that the 'greenbelts' surrounding UK cities should be left alone, as they are there to preserve the countryside as opposed to seeing the entire country being 'paved over' – a chief defence from those who oppose new housing. However, there has to be a point at which some of that land is freed up. If managed correctly, such as with proposals for new housing placed in a 'snowflake' formation, the impact on the environment can be minimised.
It's worth asking where this all started. Thatcher's policy of 'right-to-buy' of Council property at the beginning of the 80s was one of the chief instigators, as it lead to a sharp depletion of pubic housing stock. But it was exacerbated by Labour too during their tenure in power. Running parallel to this, finance in the City was deregulated – a chain of events that ultimately led to the collapse of certain banks in the UK and their subsequent nationalisation in the global economic downturn in 2007/8. By this point, the UK's economy had shifted to becoming focused on a service economy and sustaining a housing bubble, in contrast to Germany and France, which, despite also having large banking sectors, had (and have) retained large manufacturing industries. There are exceptions, of course. But there's no doubt that much of the UK's manufacturing base has been drastically reduced.
In tying in their economy with their best pals, the property-owning class, the Tories have ensured that the nation's debt is shifted onto those who remain powerless to fight back – the young and those who cannot afford property, now forced to fork out astronomical amounts for rent. As a result, the UK has become one of the most unequal countries in Western Europe, despite other cities in the continent also commanding high rents, yet not racking up comparable levels of inequality. And London has seen that inequality become magnified as those on a modest income find themselves either priced out already or battling an ever-rising cost of living.
This is what has been voted in for the next five years. What will be the consequence for future generations?

Friday, June 05, 2015

Some more posts will be coming soon, but for now here's a flyer for another Pennyblackmusic concert in collaboration with GoodnightLondon, who will be in attendance...it's at The Macbeth pub, 70 Hoxton Street, London, N1 6LP, on Friday 12th June 2015.
Tickets  - and a synopsis of the bands - available here for £6. £7 on door. Doors open around 8pm.