Thursday, April 04, 2013

Labour Snubs Liverpool Grassroots Anti-Bedroom Tax Campaign in Confidential Email

Liverpool Labour confidential email
The following is a repost from the Combat The Bedroom Tax blog. It is clear from this and my recent interview with Kensington and Fairfield councillor Louise Baldock that: a) there are significant divisions within the Labour Party over the Bedroom Tax, b) even those most anti-Bedroom Tax (often also tied to housing associations) have nothing to offer people desperately struggling to make ends meet:

A few weeks ago Dingle Combat the Bedroom Tax tenants’ Group decided to invite every Liverpool councillor they could contact to face questions over the Bedroom Tax. They knew that the responses would be tokenistic, but nevertheless, the date was set and yesterday, 2nd April, tenants eagerly awaited a concerned troop of councillors.

They sent along one Liverpool Labour Councillor, Steve Munby, which is slightly better than a kick in the chops. Unbeknown to Mumby, one of the tenants snapped a confidential document that Steve had been referring to whilst he was being annihilated by the meeting. Seems like Liverpool Labour have been having a proper chinwag about Combat the Bedroom Tax:
It’s difficult to make out from first glance, but closer inspection and some image enhancement has allowed the following to be transcribed.

[] = omitted due to illegibility 
Subject:  Invitation to South Liverpool Bedroom Tax Campaign Group Meeting
Importance: High
Sensitivity: Confidential
From: Baldock, Louise
Sent: 20 March 2013 22:10
To: Dean, Alan
Subject RE: Invitation to South Liverpool Bedroom Tax Campaign Group Meeting
Sensitivity: Confidential
Hi Alan,

I don’t mind writing back but that is not what they really want.
They want to see one of us there, to shout at us and get angry and let of some of their steam.
I could go and see them, into the lions den, into the angry nest, if none of you want to go yourselves and I can see why you wouldn’t want to, although I’m not a south Liverpool councillor and have no brief(?) for the city’s strategy over welfare benefit management.
Unfortunately our answers to their questions are not great because our national party have not got their [] right on this yet -  as I have said many times and the Mayor has said too.
I’m not sure how it could be in any way constructive other than to stop it from looking like we are not scared to face them.
Answers would be something like this if you are happy with them then I can send them to the questioner on behalf of you all? but they will slate us for not turning up.
What are your doing and what do you intend to do to prevent Liverpool residents from being evicted from their homes
Labour Councillors in Liverpool have established a grassroots members’ campaign which has been called out nationally to demand that the Government abolishes the bedroom tax and which calls upon the Parliamentary Labour Party to commit to abolish it when they are able to form a Government. We have funded this campaign ourselves personally most of the expense being in the establishment of a network(?) where tenants can share their stories and where Labour campaigners can access campaign materials to use in their local groups/areas(?).
We also unanimously passed a motion in the Town Hall which you may have read about in the Liverpool Echo a few weeks ago.
You will be aware that the council itself has no housing stock, all homes having been transferred through stock transfer some years ago under the Lib Dem administration. That said, many Labour councillors are members of Housing Associations, either independently or as appointments from the local authority, and they will be party to discussions about how each association can best manage the bedroom tax and the introduction of universal credit paid directly to tenants to minimize the threat to tenancies. Some of them may well be discussing non/eviction policies. Some of them are also discussing, with our support, measures to help fund the cost of moving, or support with caretaker services to make it easier to do so on the day.
Despite all the proclamations and woolly statements by the Labour Party of how evil the bedroom tax is, they can’t/won’t even commit to abolishing it themselves, as indicated in the email. The reason for this is, as Labour MP Helen Goodman announced in a recent ITV interview, ‘they would keep the bedroom tax’.

Louise Baldock, who penned the email, is a Labour Councillor and Vice-chair of Venture Housing Association, who previously misled the public on Venture’s bedroom tax eviction policy, just to shut a campaigner up. You can read more about that incident here. The email is addressed to Alan Dean, who is Chief Whip of the Liverpool Labour Party Group.

The email clearly indicates that Labour cannot be bothered with the hassle of interacting with a grassroots tenants’ movement that will ask difficult questions and won’t be fooled by the machinations of a party who are clearly after votes off the back of the bedroom tax campaign. Instead, they've forked out dollar on "the establishment of a network(?) where tenants can share their stories". Hmm, this is the first many of us have heard of this network.

The only reason why they sent their stooge, Steve Munby, was so they didn’t lose complete face. Fortunately, Labour’s face imploded on the 16th of March, when they 'found' themselves controlling the platform at what was supposed to be a “non-political” rally in Liverpool; and, furthermore, when they couldn’t be arsed turning up to the grassroots-organised Liverpool demo on the 30th for fear of being exposed as the poltiking snakes that they are, this further cemented the attitude they've taken towards tenants organising for themselves.

Grassroots bedroom tax demo - 30th March
Cllr Baldock, patronisingly, is absolutely right when she says, “into the lions den, into the angry nest”. Around 12,000 tenants’ lives are being thrown into chaos in Liverpool as a result of the bedroom tax, and Liverpool Labour Councillors cannot even be arsed, other than to save face, to turn up because it wouldn’t be “constructive”?!?

It just shows you the attitude of a cadre of representatives who have no intention of, and never had any intention of, representing tenants. The attitude of the email reads like, ‘who wants to deal…yawn…with…yawn…this? I will if…yawn…you will…just earned 3k for…yawn…sitting on a housing board…type…type…yawn…Majorca looks good this time of year’.
Do we even want them representing us? Isn’t it about time we began taking matters into our own hands? No matter who sits in these positions of authority & power, they will always betray working class people. Their interests are not the same as ours even if they have been a lifelong Everton supporter or grew up on a council estate in Halewood. This will be proven time and time again, as opportunists and careerists, some maybe with initially good intentions, get swallowed up by the State and its’ allegiance to business.

This weekend, tenants from Merseyside will be converging on Liverpool to discuss, co-ordinate, share strategies, tactics and skills in order strengthen the fight against the bedroom tax. And regular meetings continue to take place across the city, with a recent Beat the Bedroom Tax Bailiffs workshop being the highlight of the week so far.

Community resistance, without politicians, is the strongest way to combat the bedroom tax.

Thanks to JOD for transcribing the full email.
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