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11 August 2021

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Waltham Forest: Fighting for a home for Nadia and homes for all

Waltham Forest Socialist Party members, along with local trade unionists and others, in a bailiff-defying vigil outside Nadia's home, photo Martin Reynolds

Waltham Forest Socialist Party members, along with local trade unionists and others, in a bailiff-defying vigil outside Nadia's home, photo Martin Reynolds   (Click to enlarge)

A major housing eviction crisis, involving hundreds of thousands of private renters, is looming as various pandemic lifelines are ended by the Tory government on 1 October. Waltham Forest Socialist Party member Nancy Taaffe explains how her branch is fighting back.

I first met Nadia Zaman Attaria while selling the Socialist. Our Socialist Party branch was petitioning for the tens of thousands of homes being built in Waltham Forest to be council homes to end the homelessness crisis - not the for-profit model our Labour-led council pursues.

A year or so later Nadia rang me. She faced imminent eviction and needed help. Every other avenue to stop eviction had been closed - councillors, the local MP, etc.

This is a hard one to win. Nevertheless, I said to Nadia, "I don't know what we can do and I don't know if we can win. But if you want to fight, Waltham Forest Socialist Party is with you!"

Over these last two months the Socialist Party, Waltham Forest Trades Council, Unite Community and the London Renters Union have worked together to build support for Nadia in her refusal to be another part of the story of socially cleansing the working class out of London.

We resist this abomination of working class people - usually on low incomes or no jobs (disgracefully, many single parents) - being forcibly displaced from their homes and their support network.

On 3 August we spent the day outside the one-room temporary accommodation Nadia had won through refusing to go. Her refusal to budge forced the local council to find her temporary accommodation - they say for two more weeks.

This is an initial victory for Nadia and the campaign. She's not been moved 170 miles to Stoke-on-Trent, which the council said was her only option. And she's not in a B&B, which is where they wanted to send her and her kids at the start of the day. She is in a two-bed place, safe with her children, as it should be. Now the fight goes on to make that permanent.

People have criticised us for 'fighting for just one woman'. The truth is the Socialist Party was fighting for Nadia long before we met her. We're fighting for all the Nadias (men, too), across our borough and beyond, who have been forced out by the privatised, pro-developer, austerity housing model.

This is a story of 30 years of privatisation of housing stock, of right-wing Labour's collusion in the Tory benefit cap, of a forced displacement policy. It's also a story of resistance.


Fight for a socialist housing programme!

Don't move!

In echoes of the poll tax bailiff-busters 30 years ago, communities are mobilising to physically defend their neighbours from eviction. Socialist Party members have assisted residents to organise such resistance.

Five years ago tenants on the Butterfields estate in Walthamstow resisted eviction as a whole group - and won, with the simple message: 'Butterfields won't budge'.

Even when people's homes are not safe and they need immediate rehousing, we must still demand that we will not move from our communities.

Don't pay

In an organised, collective way. In Newham, key workers in One Housing housing association defeated a 40% rent increase when they organised and refused to pay. When homes are not safe and the council is slow to act, as was recently exposed in Croydon over mouldy, damp, and dangerous flats, why should people still pay full rent?

The same applies to service charges - around the country, through the campaign group SHAC (Social Housing Action Campaign), housing association residents are preparing a 'service charge strike'.

Trade union and community action

Get organised. Set up democratic tenants and residents associations. Trade unions and trades councils should work with local communities, building collective strength to mobilise for eviction resistance and demonstrations.

In the 1940s, so desperate was the housing crisis that the community in West London occupied luxury houses. Local people may need to return to those traditions!

Working-class political representation

Keir Starmer's Labour Party has ruthlessly driven out Jeremy Corbyn and the programme he stood for, of council housing, rent control and anti-austerity. Working-class people need our own political voice.

The Socialist Party stands in elections as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, which offers a banner to enable anyone who wants to fight to stand together in elections.

The Socialist Party stands for a new, mass party, based on working-class and young people that can fight for a socialist housing programme.


'Butterfields Didn't Budge'

How tenants on one east London estate saved their homes

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In The Socialist 11 August 2021:


NHS

Defend the NHS. Fight the Tory pay insult. Prepare strike action!

NHS: Kick out the privatisers, Fight for funding, Build for strike action


News

Tory government nationalises Sheffield steel plant

Tory cuts worsened crime and Johnson 'blitz' won't help

Fight energy price hike

Thanks to the miners - an example of workers' struggle and solidarity

News in brief


Comment

Olympic 'success' masks cuts and inequality in sport

Starmer's faithful Guardian


Campaigns news

Capitalism = climate catastrophe

Rising against a rigged and rotten system - Socialism 2021

London Pride cancelled - pandemic shows protest Pride is necessary

London: Hundreds protest for trans rights

Save Newham's theatres from Labour council cuts!

Socialist Party young members summer school

A day in the life of a young hospitality worker

West Midlands: austerity and capitalism offers no future for young people

Why I joined the Socialist Party

Don't privatise Dudley libraries

Socialist Party: Solely funded by the working class

Review - The Struggle for World Socialism


Housing

Waltham Forest: Fighting for a home for Nadia and homes for all


History

August 1991 - The aborted military coup in the 'Soviet Union'


Workplace news

Ballot majority essential to continue DVLA strike action

Night tube strike suspended to allow talks - scrap compulsory duties!

RMT strike solid on East Midlands rail

You need a union when the time comes to fight

Unions protest at exploitative Leicester company Food Attraction

Over 3,000 votes for fighting socialist programme in CWU

NSSN to lobby TUC


International news

Beirut's devastating port explosion one year on


 

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