Tag Archives: Stephen Greenhalgh

The Casey Review: Not Worth The Paper It’s Printed On

Yesterday saw the release of the Casey Review into integration. Commissioned by the Cameron government, its stated intention was to review social integration in Britain.  However, it merely added to the already poisonous anti-Muslim narrative, which is tirelessly promoted by the likes of The S*n, The Daily Mail and The Daily Express. Was the report properly researched? No.

Let’s start with the most obvious question: who is Louise Casey?  As this Guardian article from 2002 notes, there is very little biographical information available. No details of the schools she attended or whether or not she’s attended and institution of higher or even further education.  Even her Wikipedia entry provides scant details save for her career highlights.  This has got The Cat scratching his head: how and why did she manage to get into a position where she was permitted to produce government reports?  In the words of Toyah Wilcox: it’s a mystery.

Casey apparently had a turbulent childhood and once considered sleeping rough. She then worked at a holiday camp. That was followed by a spell in the old Department of Social Security where she handled payments for homeless people. From there her trajectory took her to St Mungo’s and a number of other charities. It was from her last job at Shelter that she was plucked from her relative obscurity to lead Tony Blair’s Respect Task Force. Yet, at no point does Casey appear to have studied a social sciences subject either at school or at tertiary level, nor does she appear to have any experience of peer-reviewed research. Yet, the mass media accepted her review without asking pertinent questions about its validity.  Yesterday’s Guardian, for example, was one such newspaper that accepted its ‘findings’ prima facie. As I write this, there is a Commons debate on the Casey Review taking place. Even here, the review is uncritically accepted as ‘evidence’ of “segregated neighbourhoods”.  One glaring aspect of the Casey Review is its obsessive focus on Muslims.  Indeed, it merely repeats the same kinds of narratives that can be found in any Tory-leaning newspaper on any given day of the week.

At no point in the Casey Review is there any mention of how the research, if it exists, was conducted.  There is no mention of methodologies used nor is there any mention of references. This begs the question: how can this review be accepted as the basis for future policy making when it is clearly nothing less than a flagrant example of a confirmation bias? In academia, steps are taken to produce research that is valid. This means that the research must first, be peer-reviewed and second, the researcher must act self-reflexively. Pierre Bourdieu and Loic Wacquant (1992) were insistent on the need for researchers to analyse their social and professional positions when conducting research, since objectivity is research or journalism, for that matter, is a chimera.  Yet such things are of no importance to ideologues, MPs and tabloid newspapers, who will seize upon any passing ‘report’ as a confirmation of their deeply held biases. They will, however deny any accusations of bias with the weasel words to which we have become so accustomed to hearing.

Casey herself, far from being a researcher, is a civil servant; a role that she found herself in thanks to the grace of Tony Blair.  Legitimacy has thus been bestowed on her by the consecrating authorities of the government, Parliament and the mass media (Bourdieu, 2003).  Her title of ‘Dame’ also lends an added degree of legitimacy, thus in the eyes of journalists she’s some kind of authority in some field or other.

Casey is by no means unique in producing reports that have little basis in actual research.  As I reported in 2011, Localis, a think-tank with connections to Policy Exchange, produced a report titled ‘Principles for Social Housing Reform‘.  Rather than propose useful solutions to the housing crisis, it reflected the class disgust of it authors, Stephen Greenhalgh and John JC Moss.  Its epistemological assumption rests on the notion of “broken neighbourhoods” (sic) rather than the real issue like the acute shortage of social housing.  Instead, social housing is seen as an impediment to penny-pinching local authorities and the report wrongly places the blames on social housing for social problems. Unlike the Casey Review, however, it claims to be peer-reviewed with its peers drawn from like-minded Council leaders to the  Chief Executives of housing associations.

Evidence-free reports like the Casey Review rarely ask a research question and tend to be written according to the biases of their authors.  They do not offer genuine solutions to the pressing social and economic problems that face the country and do nothing more than provide further fuel for hatred and division.  Reports and poorly conducted research can either be useless or worse: downright dangerous. In any case, they exist to flatter the tiny minds  of government ministers and their ideological bedfellows. We deserve better than this.

References

Bourdieu, P. (2003). Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste. Harvard University Press.

Bourdieu, P., & Wacquant, L. J. (1992). An invitation to reflexive sociology. University of Chicago press.

 

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H&F Tories: A Sad Embittered Bunch Of Losers

When the Tories lost Hammersmith and Fulham a fortnight ago, instead of reflecting on what they did wrong, they entered into an immediate funk of bitchiness and self-delusion. The Guardian’s Dave Hill points out the Tories lack of grace, citing Greg Hands’ bitter tweet that was posted within minutes of their defeat. Hill also quotes the former cabinet member for housing, Andrew Johnson, who tweeted:

Await with interest what LBHF’s new housing policies will be under Labour. Last time they gave council house to Abu Hamza’s family for life.

Bitchy. No?

Hill writes:

[Greg] Smith has retweeted an expression of amazement that H&F residents “have voted to increase their council tax”, while at Conservative Home the Famous Harry Phibbs has attributed his party’s defeat in part to Labour’s picking up more disaffected Liberal Democrats, describing these as likely to be “public sector Guardianistas”. Harry! How impolite!

That’s not the biggest reason the Famous Harry gives – like many fellow H&F Tories he says Labour misrepresented government plans for Charing Cross hospital and unfairly profited accordingly. He also points to a national swing towards Labour. But while it’s easy to understand why H&F Tories are sore, perhaps they should look a little harder at themselves for reasons why they came so badly unstuck.

Such is their arrogance, that they have spent the last fortnight whining about how Labour is going to “trash” the borough. There is no palpable sense of irony on display here. In the eight years that the Tories controlled Hammersmith and Fulham, they presided over a massive, to use their word, “trashing” of the borough. Examples of this trashing include: threatening the tenants of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates with eviction, because they wanted to build luxury flats on the land they hoped to flatten around Earl’s Court. The selling off of the Irish Centre, The Shepherds Bush Village Hall and the eviction of 22 groups from Palingswick House to make way for Toby Young’s West London Free School. Tobes’s free school has already lost three headteachers in as many years. Then there was The Sulivan Primary School in Fulham, which the Conservatives decided they’d close and hand over to a free school.

Here are some of the tweets I found on Andrew Johnson’s timeline. This one claims:

Headbanger JohnsonJohnson believes, as does the rest of his party, that all the Tories need to do is offer people the right to part buy their council homes and they’ll come flocking back. This is nothing less than self-delusion. Johnson even wants to extend Right to Buy to Housing Association tenants, but hang on, wasn’t this done when Nu Labour were in power? None of the Housing Association properties that were sold were replaced. What HAs like Peabody did instead was to build new properties to buy or part buy and ignore those who can’t afford to buy.

Here Johnson, who lost his Fulham Reach seat along with the insufferable bully and chinless wonder, Peter Graham, claims that the new Labour ruling group is not committed to providing homes for local people. Yet, when his party was in power, they joined with developers like St George to build flats for overseas investors. Johnson’s words  ring rather hollow.

Headbanger Johnson1

Phoghorn Phibbs produces perhaps the most chilling statement in the title of his blog at Conservative Home. It reads like a line from The Terminator:

The Conservatives will be back in Hammersmith and Fulham

I really hope that never happens again. Phibbs complains that Labour didn’t fight the Tories on their “record”. That record, as if you didn’t know by now, dear readers, included selling off council flats at inflated prices, denying shelter to a heavily pregnant woman who was forced to sleep on a bench in a local park, and lying about the proposed downgrading of Charing Cross and Hammersmith Hospitals (according to the Tories,  a GP-led clinic is the same as an Accident and Emergency department). On balance, I think not only did Labour fight the Tories on their dismal record, but the voters had also had enough of the Tories’ autocratic style of leadership and  decided to vote them out.

The Conservative’s loss means a change at the top. Greg Smith, member of the Young Britons’ Foundation (The so-called Conservative madrasah) has now been elected to replace the Nick Botterill as the leader of the Tory group. Botterill, himself, had been elected to replace Stephen ‘Decent Neighbourhoods’ Greenhalgh in 2012 when the latter was appointed by Bozza to become the Deputy Mayor for Policing – a job he’s done rather poorly in my view.  Curiously, Botterill’s Twitter timeline has been quiet since 15 April.

Gruntin Greg Smith1Mark Loveday, the new Tory chief whip, is also a member of YBF and is, according to the Tanfield Chambers website, a barrister who specializes in “property litigation”. So when the Tories sold off land and council properties that weren’t supposed to be sold off, it was his job to find loopholes and create legal blocks to any attempts to reverse their reckless planning decisions. Lucy Ivimy, who was once accused of racism when she accused “immigrants” of throwing litter out of tower block windows, becomes Smudger’s deputy.

I also found these tweets on Smith’s timeline. Notice how the first tweet suggests that Labour will “deprive h&f of 7500 new homes”. What he doesn’t dare tell you is that these homes were for rich first time buyers and foreign investors. The lack of honesty from these Tories is as breathtaking as their arrogance and ruthlessness. The threatened demolition of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates was perhaps the most blatant attempt at gerrymandering a ward since the Homes for Votes scandal in the 1980s. Shirley Porter, it could be argued, was H&F Tories’ patron saint.

Gruntin Greg SmithIt’s no surprise that Smith, a truly nasty piece of work, would retweet the dismal, Thatcher-worshipping, rent-a-gob, Katie Hopkins. What Hopkins and her admirer refuse to recognise is how Right to Buy contributed to the current housing crisis. Their solution to the housing crisis is, in effect, no solution.

Hammersmith and Fulham’s residents are relieved that the most ruthless Tory council in living memory has been shown the door. But the Tories refuse to learn any lessons from their defeat and seek to apportion blame elsewhere. The defeat of this flagship Tory council is perhaps an indication of what could happen in next year’s General Election. Tory Hammersmith and Fulham was, for all intents and purposes, the Tory-led government in microcosm.

I wish the new Labour administration all the best as they try to reverse the Tories’ disastrous policies in the borough.  In four years time, let’s hope more Conservative councillors find themselves out of a job.

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Nightmare On King Street (Part 19)

 

I’ve just had a load of Tory election literature shoved through my letter box. The Tories don’t knock on doors and talk to anyone. They know better. They know that no one on my estate wants to talk to them. But I wanted to talk to them. I wanted to take down their feeble arguments. I wanted to grill them on the lack of decent, affordable rented accommodation in the borough.  I wanted to grill them on the question of Sulivan School and the proposed demolition of the Gibbs Green and West Kensington Estates. I wanted to ask them why they supported the closure of Charing Cross Hospital, while at the same time denying it. I wanted to ask them about their stealth taxes. But they’re like kids who knock on the door and run away. They’re so damned quick: when you open your door to give them a piece of your mind, they’re half way down the street, sticking two fingers up to you.

H&F Conservatives Mr. Grim Reaper

Hammersmith & Fulham’s Tories took great offence to this image. Good.

One of the bits of paper shoved through my door was a letter. This letter has the words “IMPORTANT UPDATE ON CHARING CROSS HOSPITAL”. This is not so much an update as it is a lie that’s been painted in large dayglo blue letters. “Obviously there will be major changes” the letter tells me. Yes, the changes that were forced upon Charing Cross Hospital by the Tory-led coalition involve demolishing the hospital and handing the site over to private developers like St George, who will then build luxury flats for foreign investors. In the letter the Tories have said nothing about the lack of beds and the loss of the stroke unit – the same stroke unit that saved Andrew Marr’s life. The borough’s Tories support the government. Why wouldn’t they?

The letter then goes on to say “Whether you agree or disagree with these NHS plans, they aren’t something that local councillors can change. H&F council has no powers over the NHS, nor does it own the land”. Well, that simply isn’t true and the subtext of this statement is “we don’t care”. Campaigners saved Lewisham Hospital from closure. We can do the same with Charing Cross Hospital. The word ‘defeat’ is absent from our lexicon.

The letter also claims the local Labour Party is “scaremongering”. It goes on to accuse Labour of “desperation” adding “Labour can’t win the Council Elections by talking about what the Council actually does”.  Like what? Selling off land to developers? Charging residents for training in the borough’s parks? Increased charges for its leisure facilities? Their letter talks of “cleaner streets”. Really? Where? It talks about “more and better schools”. What about Sulivan School which the Council wants to close and sell to an independent school? Funny how the letter doesn’t mention that. It boasts about “affordable homes to buy”. What does “affordable” actually mean? Yes, these homes will be “affordable” but only for those whose economic capital is provided by daddy’s trust fund or a rentier’s income. What about homes to rent? This Council is actually reviving the disastrous Right to Buy scheme, which caused the housing crisis in the first place. It actually wants to sell off and demolish its council housing because it doesn’t like the people who live in their properties. They don’t come from the right social class, you see. They don’t have names like Jocasta, Jemima, Rupert and Nigel.

In the eight years that they’ve been running the Council, the Tories have shown time and again that, in spite of their slogan “Residents First”, they are only interested in putting the interests of their rich mates first. When the Tories assumed control of the Council, Stephen Greenhalgh, the former Dear Leader, wanted to create a borough that attracted the rich. In order to “attract the rich”, he and his fellow Tories had to expel the poor and those on low incomes. This is called gerrymandering and if you look at the numbers of units at Fulham Reach for example, there isn’t a single property in that development that is available for those on low incomes to rent. The people who will live in those properties will doubtlessly vote Tory.

So, Azi Ahmed, Jackie Borland and Jamie McKittrick, I won’t be voting for you. And I’ll also tell you this: I’m not interested in council candidates who only work for themselves and in the interests of their rich chums. That pretty much excludes your party.

Kick out the Tories! Use your vote wisely.

 

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Housing, the 1968 Rent Strike and What We Face Today

Can’t pay your rent? Then we’ll come for your children.

When the Tory-led government announced that social rents should rise to market levels, there was anger but nothing happened. That anger wasn’t channelled; forged into a weapon to attack the government and the local authorities and greedy Housing Associations. Instead, people just rolled over and took it.

When the same thing was proposed by Wilson’s Labour government (a LABOUR GOVERNMENT) in 1968, there was righteous indignation.  But instead of sitting and fuming, people actually did something about it. They organized rent strikes. So far, few people have advocated rent strikes and, as far as I know, I am one of those few.

In London, the Greater London Council (GLC), which was controlled by the Tories (hard to believe but the Tories only liked the GLC when it was run by their fellow travellers), was particularly zealous in implementing the rent increases. I found this article by Ian Macdonald on marxists.org in which he says:

The Greater London Council is Britain’s biggest landlord. There are about 242,000 tenants involved. On 7 December last year, the chairman of the GLC Housing Committee announced the Tories’ new rent scheme. Under the scheme, GLC tenants can expect their rents to increase by 5s in the £ in October 1968, a further 5s in the £ in October 1969, and an extra 4s in 1970. A tenant now paying £4 per week, will be paying £6 16s in 1970, and tenants in some of the newer flats will be paying as much as £10 per week. In addition, lodger charges are to rise, and central heating and car parking will be more expensive.

That is not all. In future, less money is to be spent on repairs, and tenants will have to do their own interior decorating. In this way, the Council hopes to save £850,000 on repairs, and £500,000 on decorating. It also means the sack for some of the Council’s 6,000 electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and other maintenance men.

The GLC have made much of their intended rebate scheme. But the only way to get a rebate will be to go through a means test; no tenant, say the GLC, need disclose his income to the Council unless he is applying for a rebate. In fact, very few of the 240,000 GLC tenants will benefit. Here is an example of a family which will not benefit. The tenant earns £12 per week, and his wife £5. They have a child and a lodger, both over 21, and now pay a rent of £2 16s 8d per week. In 1970, they will pay £4 16s 4d and get no rebate.

You can see this happening right now. All Housing Associations have increased their rents above the rate of inflation and, furthermore, they have duly bowed to the government’s diktats and are letting out properties for market rents. Local authorities, too, have increased their rents. One of those councils is Hammersmith and Fulham – Cameron and Pickles’s favourite council – which has palmed off the management of its stock to Pinnacle and placed income restrictions on those people applying for or living in one of their properties.

Last year Hammersmith & Fulham announced:

Trailblazing Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council is to be the first local authority in the country to simultaneously introduce fixed term social housing tenancies and a maximum income cap for people wishing to access the housing register.

The flagship council will be ripping up the social housing rule book from April 2013 when it will introduce a number of radical policies which seek to increase low-cost homeownership, tackle the social and economic divide in the borough and give a far greater priority for council housing to people who are making a community contribution.

H&F, has the fourth highest property prices in the UK and one of the highest proportions of social housing in London as a proportion of total housing, with around 34 per cent social rented.

That compares to a London average of 25 per cent and a West London average of 21.5 per cent. Just over two per cent of the borough’s housing is intermediate.

H&F is also one of the first councils in the country to get back into building homes, after a 30 year absence. These properties are sold at a discounted market rate to those on low to middle incomes who live or work in the borough and might struggle otherwise to get onto the property ladder.

Notice how this article tells us that the council is “trailblazing”. As for its claim that it’s “building homes”, it is building homes but not for those on low incomes.  Last year the council announced  that it would be building 25 new (yes, 25) homes for those foolish enough to buy them. But there’s worse to come in this article:

Those households earning above £40,200 will generally not be eligible to access the housing register. Instead, they will be offered advice on other housing options including joining the Council’s HomeBuy Register.

This new way of working will replace an antiquated and inefficient system that created false hopes and expectations.

The council and the government’s solution to the housing crisis (and let’s face, it is a crisis) is to stimulate a potentially disastrous property bubble. The HomeBuy scheme aims to achieve this, in spite of the council’s denial. Ian Macdonald:

Instead of directly attacking this problem, the GLC and the Government talk rubbish about ‘well-off Council tenants’ being subsidised. In fact, every penny that is contributed to housing out of rates or from the Government goes straight into the pockets of the money lenders, landowners and builders. If this element were removed, Council rents would be cut to less than a quarter of their present levels without anything coming from the ratepayers or the Government.

Who says history doesn’t repeat itself? H&F Council wants to go further and bases its approach on the widely-discredited and evidence free report produced by its former leader, Stephen Greenhalgh and his partner John Moss:

Currently most social housing tenants have the right to stay for life unless the tenancy is brought to an end because of a breach. Once the tenant passes away, the right of succession passes onto a family member even if the housing need of the individual is less than other potential applicants.

The council believes that this does not promote personal aspiration or provide tenants with any incentive to try to move into home-ownership and fails to take into account the fact that a household’s need for social housing may be temporary.

From next year, the council will issue fixed-term tenancies of five years for new social housing lettings. This would be reduced to two years in certain cases.

Existing tenants will be unaffected by the new proposals. New tenancies in sheltered accommodation and for those with special housing or health needs will still be on a secure basis.

Two year tenancies will be issued for those with a history of antisocial behaviour and for those between the ages of 18 to 25.

So what Wilson’s Labour government failed to achieve in 1968 has now been enthusiastically adopted by the Tories. The only real difference between then and now is that the classism is turbo-charged and more blatant than ever.

As for those who doubt the effectiveness of rent strikes, Macdonald writes:

It is true that badly organised or isolated rent strikes are usually defeated. But where the tenants are properly organised and show determination, they have in the past succeeded. In Glasgow in 1915, the strike was completely successful. In 1938-9, there were over 30 strikes in the East End of London demanding cuts in rents. All were successful. In 1939, 50,000 Birmingham municipal tenants defeated a differential rent scheme similar to the present GLC scheme after a 10-week strike. In the 1950s, Luton tenants managed to defeat a similar scheme. The GLC tenants can do the same, but there is no doubt that the battle will be tougher than anything in the past, since the Government’s whole prices and incomes policy is at stake.

The key, as always, is organization. These days, organizing rent strikes may be harder because of Housing Benefit. Yet, these payments have been replaced by something called the ‘Local Housing Allowance’. The Tories also want people on low incomes to pay Council Tax. This is nothing less than a form of economic feudalism, in which the poor, the vulnerable and those earning less than £40,000 are forced into a 21st century version of serfdom.

John Grayson, writing for Inside Housing says:

The campaigning of tenants between 1968 and 1973 had an effect. Many councils began negotiating with tenants’ organisations for the first time. The Association of London Housing Estates drafted the first tenants’ charter in 1970. Three years later Dick Leonard, a Labour MP, introduced (unsuccessfully) the Council Housing (Tenants’ Representation) Bill.

Unfortunately the proto-neoliberal Labour government of Wilson and Callaghan decided to have another stab at crushing council tenants:

Between 1974 and 1979 the Labour government continued a policy of cuts in housing. There were often confrontations with councils and the National Co-ordinating Committee Against Housing Cuts organised a national campaign in 1975. In Liverpool the Tenants’ Co-ordinating Committee emerged as a federation for tenants and rent strikes were organised in protest at the council’s policies. The tenants were excluded from all council meetings.

Rents are increased, people are threatened with having their children taken from them and there’s the Bedroom Tax, another half-baked government idea to ‘solve’ the housing crisis. Yet there is no evidence to suggest that such a draconian measure will do anything other than hammer those who are already being squeezed by a high cost of living and stagnating incomes.

We want homes, not property ladders.

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Nightmare on King Street (Part 15)

lab_coat

Regular readers of this blog will know that H&F Tories are hypocrites. They protested at the government’s proposed closure of the borough’s accident and emergency departments. Then, last night, they voted to close them. This follows from Cllr Peter “Tory Boy” Graham’s attack on the council’s Labour group earlier this month. It didn’t take him long to do a complete volte face…well, it’s in the Tory DNA.

Here’s what Graham said on the local Tory blog,

Tonight, we have seen exactly what happens when you try to work with the Opposition: they throw it back in your face.

The one time we have a cross-party campaign, they try to yoke it to other issues and make it political.

It’s not as though we’ve failed to do our bit.

For the sake of my hospital, I climbed onto a platform bedecked in GMB flags; in front of a hundred Socialist Worker placards; in the company of Labour MPs, Christine Blower and the Middle Eastern Workers’ Solidarity Network. There they all were, arrayed with Andrew Slaughter to the left of the stage, while, as solitary representatives on the right, it was just me… and Cllr Cowan.

Here, Graham, attempts to take the moral high ground by getting in a thinly-veiled swipe at some of his favourite hate-figures. He desperately wants to become an MP. No question about it. He’s Greg Hands’s Commons researcher and H&F is where they prepare the most right-wing of politicians for the Best Club in Town. It’s his destiny and no doubt he thinks it’s his birthright too.

Only the Opposition could confuse a hospital, where doctors and nurses deal with emergencies, and a police station, where officers don’t.

There’s a clear difference: our hospitals are busy and their doors need to stay open if patients are to be treated; but with one visitor an hour, a bored desk officer could arrest himself for wasting police time.

He’s actually accusing the opposition of being stupid, but emergency services are being slashed and all this twerp can do is try and claim it’s all the opposition’s fault. But where does he get this feeble idea that the Labour group confused a police station for a hospital?

You will recall that former [Dear] Leader of the Council – now Deputy Mayor for Policing – Stephen Greenhalgh, wants to close police stations across London and replace them with a counter at the back of your local supermarket. Only recently Cllr Greg Smith unveiled a CCTV unit for the borough, which he claimed wouldn’t replace the numbers of officers on the beat. Policing is bad enough in the borough: 2 years ago I was burgled and not a single officer came out to see me. They told me to look on Ebay for my stolen property – seriously. Presumably this lot and their chums at Westminster would sign over our hospitals to Tesco if they could. Not content with shutting police stations, the Tory group is now in favour – after telling us they were opposed – of shutting down the A&E departments at the borough’s two hospitals.

But I have a second reason to be disappointed with the Opposition motion, particularly as I thought they’d understood the scale of the threat to Charing Cross.

What are you trying to say, Councillor?

Their motion just talks about the closure of the A&E, when the NHS wants to close the entire hospital.

This Graham fella’s nothing but a cheap pedant to be honest. Now we risk having no A&E services in the borough. If you need emergency care, you’ll have to schlepp over to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital or the West Middlesex Hospital… or is that closing too?

Here’s where he starts trying to extract political capital.

To listen to them, you would never know that the NHS budget is going up each year. You’d never know that it’s going up locally. And you’d certainly never know that official Labour Party policy, confirmed again and again by Andy Burnham, is to cut it.

Cut it – not increase it, or match the Government’s increases – but cut it.

Nor would you know that the Shaping a Healthier Future programme isn’t some nasty imposition of Andrew Lansley, genial as he is, but is part of the Nicholson Challenge, which was announced in 2009 under their government and featured in the Labour Party manifesto.

Then he snaps back into the default position of “it was the last Labour government”. But whatever those Blairite filth did while in power, is now being made 10 times worse by an incompetent and generally stupid government.

Madam Mayor, they can emote all they like, but their stance is the worst, shameless, knee-jerk, intellectually bankrupt, immature, hypocritical, self-indulgent examples of posturing I can recall.

That’s rich coming from a ruling party that first, campaigned against closures, then more or less voted in favour of them. As they used to say at the end of the 70s sitcom Soap, “Confused? You will be”! As for being “intellectually bankrupt”, I think I’ve proven that most, if not all, Tories suffer from this affliction. Immaturity seems to come naturally to them too.

We are not interested in posturing.

Au contraire, Tory Boy, your party colleagues are very much interested in posturing…and slashing… and cutting… and attacking the poor.

You mark my words, Graham will be selected for a nice safe seat in the Shires. It’s on the cards. Then, he’ll have to compete with Jacob Rees-Mogg for the title of the silliest toff in the Commons.

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Nightmare on King Street (Part 14)

Yesterday, as I was looking at my Twitter timeline, I saw this tweet from H&F Council’s propaganda department,

H&F propaganda1

So I followed the link to this article on the Council’s website. I will quote the first two paragraphs,

A judge has thrown out a legal challenge that threatened £1billion worth of community benefits to North Fulham and Earls Court, describing it as ‘absurd’.

West Kensington Estate resident Harold Greatwood, applied to court to launch a judicial review of Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council’s decision to enter into a Conditional Land Sale Agreement with EC Properties to include the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates in the wider regeneration of Earls Court.

Gloating? You ain’t seen nothing yet!

Finding that the challenge to the Council’s consultation was “not reasonably arguable”, Mr Justice Mitting said: “The analysis of the consultation responses put to cabinet on 23 April 2012 and 3 September 2012 was balanced and fair. The suggestion that the results of the consultation were hidden is unwarranted”. He went on to say that “The time for the consultation – nine weeks – was adequate” and that “The suggestion that because the defendant did not address the consultation documents to tenants by name or to the ‘tenant’, the process was flawed, is absurd.”

Justice? Justice only exists for those who can afford to pay for it. As for justice being “blind”, that’s another myth. Judges are ideological too. I suspect the Council has a dedicated legal team whose job is to deal with this and other property and land deals.

I saw another tweet on H&F Council’s Twitter timeline.

H&F tweet

This isn’t riding roughshod over the majority of the tenant’s wishes, it’s getting into a steamroller, putting a brick onto the accelerator pedal and running over the tenants again and again. I clicked on the link.

There’s a quote from Council Leader, Nicholas Botterill.

Cllr Nicholas Botterill, Leader of H&F Council, said: “We believe that the residents living on the estates have negotiated the best deal of any regeneration scheme in the country. They will only have to move when their new home is ready to be occupied. That new home will be the same area as they are already living in. People will be compensated and we will keep support groups and neighbours together.

Whoa! Hang on! Botterill says, “The residents living on the estates have negotiated the best deal of any regeneration scheme in the country”. Which “residents” are these? Not the residents who oppose this development and he can only mean the astroturf group of residents that was set up by the Council to give the impression of a consensus for the redevelopment project. It’s an old PR con trick that Edward Bernays would have admired.

Here’s some more,

“Residents, their current and future children will be living in an even better, safer neighbourhood environment with access to new leisure and community facilities. Most of all local people will benefit from the thousands of new job opportunities that will be created”.

“Local people”, says Botterill. Most of those “local people” will be forced out of their homes to make way for the affluent and those who will take, at face value, the words of the developer and the vendors who will sell shoebox properties that have a luxury price tag on them.

At the end of the article, which was quite possibly written by the Council’s propaganda minister, Harry Phibbs, it asks,

What happens next?

  • Hammersmith & Fulham Council will make an application to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  for consent for the transfer of the estates to EC Properties. This is likely to be considered in March.
  • When the Section 106 agreement with the developer is firmed up, the Planning Authority will refer the planning application to the Mayor of London, while the Secretary of State also has the discretion to call it in.

The Secretary of State, the immensely rotund Eric Pickles, is already on board and so is Emperor Bozza. It looks like a done deal… or is it? The Council, in its arrogance, believes that it can do no wrong. We’ll see.

The former Council Leader, Stephen Greenhalgh, is facing a criminal investigation over the alleged “VIP list” where tenants who signed up to support the redevelopment were promised preferential treatment. If this investigation goes ahead, I expect other councillors and council officials to face charges. For all the Council’s gloating, the VIP list could come back to bite them. The Council and Greenhalgh deny any wrongdoing.

Funnily enough, when I click on any link on the pages I’ve linked to, I get the following message,

http://www.lbhf.gov.uk is unavailable or may not exist.

Amusing. No?

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Nightmare on King Street (Part 13)

Bozza doesn’t have much luck with his Deputy Mayors. Almost as soon as they are installed, they face controversy and are dismissed. Ray Lewis, much to everyone’s dismay, has been brought back into service like a clapped out old train that’s been given a quick lick of paint. An error of judgement on the mayor’s part? Most certainly.

Since he became Deputy Mayor for Policing, Stephen Greenhalgh, the former Dear Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham, has been involved in scandal after scandal. First, he arrogantly refused to deal with Assembly Member’s questions, then he was accused of “inappropriate behaviour” in a City Hall lift. Yesterday, The Guardian’s Dave Hill reported that he could face criminal charges over his involvement in the Earls Court/West Kensington redevelopment – and I don’t think I’m being too dramatic when I use this word – scandal.

Hill writes,

A complaint that Boris Johnson‘s deputy mayor for policing and crime, Stephen Greenhalgh, may have engaged in criminal conduct while he was leader of the Conservative flagship council of Hammersmith and Fulham has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The Greater London Authority’s monitoring officer, who is responsible for ensuring that the GLA, its members and officers comply with the law, informed the complainant on Monday that under regulations applying to elected local policing bodies his complaint:

“falls with the statutory definition of a “serious complaint”: a qualifying complaint made about conduct which constitutes or involves, or appears to constitute or involve, the commission of a criminal offence. As a consequence…I am obliged, today, to refer your complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission”

The complaint relates to Greenhalgh’s close involvement when Hammersmith and Fulham leader with the proposed redevelopment of a vast, 77-acre site in the Earls Court area of inner west London by the property giant Capco.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Last March, the Kwok brothers, who were involved in the massive CapCo project were arrested on corruption charges.

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