As you will be aware, a general election has been called for June 8th. In the course of our campaigning we have seen that a number of people are unsure about which party to vote for, or may not even be registered to vote. Some people are telling us they don’t see any point, that it makes no difference, all politicians are untrustworthy etc. While we understand that mistrust, we want to make it clear, as independent campaigners, that we believe the kind of government we get for the next few years is absolutely critical.
Under another Tory government we can expect an escalation of attacks on housing rights, including an end to secure social sector tenancies, an end to building for genuine social rents, continuing unaffordable rents in the private sector, and further benefit cuts putting more and more vulnerable people at risk of homelessness. Under a Labour government, we have a real chance of reversing many if not all of these disastrous policies, enabling councils to invest in proper council house building on the scale needed to end the misery of homelessness and sub-standard housing, and restoring the benefit rights that give people the basic security of knowing they can keep a roof over their head.
We therefore urge everyone to
- make sure they are registered to vote
- get out and use their vote on 8th June
- vote Labour and help get rid of this vicious Tory government
To be absolutely clear about our position: Hands Off Our Homes is not affiliated to any particular party, and this is important because it means we don’t need to compromise on our demands to fit in with any party line, but can challenge, resist and press our demands on politicians of every stripe, and where necessary take things into our own hands (eg to stop evictions or demolitions). At the same time, the kind of government we elect is absolutely critical in affecting basic conditions of our lives, and the scope of what our campaigns can achieve.
A clear example is the “bedroom tax”, which was introduced by the Tory (Conservative) Party in 2013. The Labour Party have promised to scrap the bedroom tax immediately if they win the next election, and a big part of the reason for this is the energetic campaign against the bedroom tax fought by Hands Off Our Homes, and by other tenants and campaigners around the country. The Labour Party is now also pledging a massive programme of housebuilding, at least half of which is to be “genuinely affordable” housing; and in addition, they plan to scrap JSA and ESA sanctions and the Work Capability Assessment, reverse many of the Tories’ benefit cuts (including restoring Housing Benefit rights to 18 – 21 year-olds), ban zero-hours contracts and implement a decent minimum wage. All of this will significantly reduce housing insecurity and poverty, as well as creating decent jobs in building and related trades, and saving public money currently being wasted on contracts for private health assessment providers like Maximus, and on Housing Benefit payments to rip-off private landlords.
None of this means that we stop fighting and organising. No political party is perfect, and genuine social change is never achieved by sitting back and leaving it to elected politicians. Even if the Labour Party wins power on June 8th there is much to be done not only to hold them to their pledges but also to push them to go further in their commitments. For example, we need to ensure that the additional homes that are built will be let at genuine social rents and with guaranteed security of tenure. We need an immediate and complete end to the benefit cap which is already seeing families with children being evicted in various parts of the country; and we need secure and reliable funding for supported housing of all kinds, ensuring certainty and stability for both tenants and providers. We have many allies within the Labour Party who are committed to these kinds of demands – but to be effective they depend on us getting behind them and voting Labour in this election.
You can read the whole Labour Party manifesto at http://www.labour.org.uk/index.php/manifesto2017