First they close yer schools then they tax yer bedroom; Lanarkshire Labour's hypocrisy

Written by Scott Campbell. Scott Campbell
Published at 16:53 on 2 April 2013.
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IS THE bedroom tax the new Tory Poll Tax? I don’t know. I wasn’t born when Thatcher ruled the day and implemented the Poll Tax. All I know is that like most Scots have an innate hatred of the buck-toothed, Tory toff. 

Never mind Thatcher though, there’s some new Tories in town, and they’re out to get everyone. Well, except the rich of course. Cameron, Osborne, Smith et. al wouldn’t want to go after their rich friends whilst the poor are allowed the scoff down horse meat, branded as beef; shiver in their homes at the cold weather kills and see their money go a distance which is increasingly shortening. 

In short, the Government favour the rich. It’s clearer now than ever before. I mean, of course they should – the poor caused the recession. 

Writing in the Independent, Mark Steel made the valuable point that “The rich have to pay for the poor’s avarice, with many currency speculators at Price Waterhouse having to take on extra work to make ends meet. They’ve barely finished destabilising the yen when they take two buses to a cleaning job, polishing a bedsit in Tower Hamlets. Many CEOs find their salary runs out and live on cat food until their bonus arrives, and 40 per cent of the board at the Royal Bank of Scotland are now on the game.” Steel gets it. It’s all the fault of the poor. 

It’s not. My point is facetious, as is Mark Steel’s. The theme is that the poor are paying for the rich’s mistakes, and nowhere is this illustrated more than in an article by the Daily Express’s Mark Reynolds, who last week wrote about the avarice of energy bosses. 

“FIVE bosses at the owners of British Gas have shared a £16.4million payout as families face soaring bills amid freezing temperatures”, Mark declared in his Express piece, last Thursday. 

However, what does all this have to do with Cumbernauld? Well, matey-bubbles, as my University Politics lecturer calls our year, the bedroom tax is coming to a town near you. And, I’ll give you a clue as to where will be hit – Arria, Neon Waves, Abronhill High, #Gunbernauld and the rocky. Still not got the answer? It’s Cumbernauld, obviously.

Yes, North Lanarkshire Council has declared that they will implement the bedroom tax, despite North Lanarkshire’s Labour group attending an anti-bedroom tax protest. 

ABOVE: Uh-oh, Labour hypocrisy shown over bedroom tax. “Quick, get the Whip oan the phone”, McCabe will be screeching just now, “I want that taken doon!” 

But it’s only one tweet, you could argue. Yeah, fair dos. However, how does North Lanarkshire Labour election promises sound? Okay, let’s have a look then. 

This is what their election website reads, under the headline ‘Delivering decent, affordable housing’:

“North Lanarkshire Labour believes in social housing for rent. We have fought to protect and develop our council housing, ensuring that North Lanarkshire is currently Scotland’s largest provider of decent, affordable homes to rent.

We understand that access to good quality housing, whether through private ownership and rental or from housing associations and the council, plays a vital part in the health and wellbeing of people. Access to good quality housing helps to make our communities safer and stronger. This is why we have pledged to build 1000 new council houses before 2020. This is one of the biggest council house building programmes in Scotland and will deliver high quality housing within all parts of North Lanarkshire.

This building programme will also help to create and sustain jobs within the local building industry. Because we believe that people deserve to live in high quality council housing, we have been installing new kitchens and bathrooms in all of our council houses over recent years – as well as improving roofs & rendering and energy efficiency. This work will continue until all of our houses have benefit from this modernisation programme.

In contrast, the SNP in Government has cut housing budgets. It has focused more on breaking up Britain than building up our communities. Labour in North Lanarkshire is committed to listening to and delivering on the real concerns of the people we represent.”

Uh-oh, Labour’s done it again! It’s a double negative, really. You can’t say “…we [North Lanarkshire Labour] believe that people deserve to live in high quality council housing…” whilst voting to keep the council’s right of eviction, as well as implementing the bedroom tax. 

The funny thing about their promise to build 1,000 council houses between 2012 and 2020 is that they don’t build a great about of one bedroom properties. Most social housing will see at least one bedroom unoccupied, the fault of the council for placing the family in the house, rather than the people moving in, who may simply be desperate for a home. So, on that basis, people are to lose benefits because of Labour’s broken promises and lies. Wouldn’t you agree? 

The local Labour group has been caught out. And, instead of standing with SNP councillors, Labour whipped their members to vote down Abronhill, Kildrum and The Village SNP Councillor, Tom Johnstone’s motion; calling on North Lanarkshire Council to follow the example of SNP led authorities, which will not evict people for following into rent arrears as a result of the bedroom tax.

It’s time to axe the tax and start defending the nation’s poor, sick and vulnerable.