What kind of London?
I was born in 1945, in Balham, South London.
Also in 1945, a Labour government was returned with the vow that we would never return to life as it was in the 1930s. The British people sacrificed their lives and their communities to achieve a better world for themselves, for all of us.
That vision lasted about 30 years, until roughly 1975. And during that 30 years, we built houses, schools and hospitals, all in the public domain. It wasn’t socialism and it wasn’t perfect, but it was better than naked capitalism (that was reserved for our colonies).
We now live in a London which is more like the London of the 19th century than the 21st. It’s a London that I thought we’d never, ever return to! How wrong can you be.
This is what happens when you have dog-eat-dog capitalism. Red in tooth and claw. It not only destroys the lives of people in far-off lands in the name of democracy but it now also destroys our lives and our democracy.
Without a voice, without organisation, we are at the mercy the big corporations and their bought and paid for, political servants, whether they be Tory or Labour.
I’m told that 200,000 working people have been forced out of the city because of high rents, and the evil ‘bedroom tax’.
Our hospitals are choked, our schools taken over by people whose only asset is money.
In other words, it’s ‘business as usual’ after a 30-year interregnum. Queen Victoria and Cecil Rhodes would be quite at home here.
What do I want?
I want to see the creation of local, human-sized councils, with direct participation by the citizens, not corporatized councils that sell off our assets to the highest bidder.
I want to see a city that belongs to us, not some anonymous equity investment corp, halfway around the world (eg, London’s electricity infrastructure is owned by an absentee Hong Kong billionaire who pays no tax here. Our water owned, again by a giant investment corp).
But with a central government amassing ever more power and deregulating pretty much everything, I despair for the future.
London is no longer my city. It’s a playground for the super-rich. And in doing so, it destroys pretty much everything that made London such an amazing place. Empty neighbourhoods because the housing is only an investment. No people, no shops. No shops, no jobs.
The madness of capitalism.