On Monday evening after TUC I went to the first annual general meeting of the London branch of the Labour Housing Group (LHG). The LHG is a Socialist society affiliated to the Labour Party concerned with Housing. The meeting took place in the House of Commons and was chaired by Steve Hilditch. The room was full.
Steve welcomed everyone. He reminded us that 300 people turned up to first open meeting of the London branch which shows how important housing is in the capital.
London Assembly member for Housing, Nicky Gavron introduced the LLHG report “Housing Policies for London”. Nicky spoke about the need to defeat the Tories and elect Ken. Boris is working hand in glove with the government and has given the green light to his Tory friends to get rid of social housing in London.
The guest speaker was John Cruddas MP. Jon was open about the failing of the Labour government over housing. It did a lot of good things but while he understood Labour policy over health and education he never did on housing. It is strange that housing is so important in MP surgeries but not a tension in Westminster itself. Housing did not even feature in Tony Blair’s first cabinet. There is some evidence that housing is moving up the agenda. He made an interesting point linking housing to the financial crisis due to the need to produce complicated financial products that resulted in sub-prime investments. He is thinking about affordable rent models that will also house families who would not be entitled to Council or housing association homes - with different levels of rent. The housing crisis does give opportunities to try new things.
Next was an opportunity for those present to make their contributions and share their experiences on Housing policy. Clive Efford MP turned up to listen as well. There was the usual grass roots Labour Party robust exchange of views. Many had passionate and very personal views on housing in London. My contribution was that we must firstly all work together to get rid of the Tories starting with Boris before we can get anything done.
The meeting was I thought another successful milestone for the new branch. We now have a committee made up of tenants and leaseholders, Councillors, housing workers, academics and many other ordinary members of the Party who want to do something about housing. Putting the housing world to rights continued afterwards in the St Stephens Tavern.