The independent London newspaper

Our country needs a massive change in direction

05 December, 2019

Jeremy Corbyn

THE lazy lightweight Boris Johnson has become notorious for endlessly contradicting himself with vague promises tailored to suit any occasion.

He has, perhaps, proved himself most slippery of all when confronted with questions about how to solve the housing crisis.

The Conservative Party leader appears more concerned with home ownership rates than council housing.

The experts speaking at Francis Crick Institute are right when they suggest Mr Johnson has no sympathy for it. If returned as Prime Minister next week, tenants lives will not improve and they will likely face a worse struggle than under Thatcher.

As Mayor of London, Johnson was more than willing to call-in and approve planning applications with minimal levels of affordable housing that had been refused by local authorities.

Perhaps the most controversial of these was the Mount Pleasant former post office site – which Mr Johnson approved with just 98 of the 681 homes affordable.

His failures in Camden are many and include the closure and sale of Belsize Fire Station – now private flats – and Hampstead Police Station that is still languishing empty. His mixed up statements on Heath­row speak for themselves. We take the line that he is actually not simply economical with the truth, but is often openly lying to the public.

The Lib Dems failed, while in coalition government, with their support for the austerity programme. The shadow of that policy still looms large over Camden. Jo Swinson’s half-hearted apology this week for voting in favour of benefit cuts is too little, too late.

Jeremy Corbyn proposes a new vision and a radical shift that would expand council housing, cut down waiting lists and get repairs done. The definition of what makes up an “affordable” rent will be rewritten.

Each week, the most regular complaint to this newsroom is about housing conditions and the frustrations with the council and housing associations who appear to be ignoring their des­perate pleas. Under a Labour government, they will be given real funding and power to meet these basic needs.

There is a kind of danger that Labour are just seen as playing with figures. But the manifesto has been costed.

The role of private companies, like the developers behind the cladding scandals at Grenfell and the Chalcots, or the profiteers sucking the heart out of our NHS, will be altered beyond recognition.

We need an end to austerity and the sort of half-privatised society that has existed since the late 1970s.

The country needs a massive change in direction, not just in terms of society, but also in terms of the future of the planet. We are facing extinction. If anybody is going to bring forward green technologies, it is a Labour government. It is a change of course that we have to take.

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