Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Simon Jenkins on top form

From the Evening Standard:

I visited Brixton as a young reporter, to witness old residents fighting landlords who were winkling them out in order to turn their terraces over to West Indian multi-occupation. Resistance was so fierce that in the early Seventies Lambeth council went Tory. A local councillor by the name of John Major became housing chairman. Such was the turmoil that by the Eighties Brixton had become synonymous with riots.

The urban wheel keeps turning. Brixton is no different from Islington, North Kensington, Camden or Stoke Newington. Yesterday’s migrant is today’s gentrifier. Inner London has always been a place of change and renewal. When its economy lags, housing tenure tends to stabilise. When the economy booms, “gentrification” sweeps across the city like a hurricane…

Yet it is hard to see what anti-gentrification protesters hope to achieve. Subsidising housing for the genuinely poor is sound welfare. But the idea of “local people” as such being entitled to housing security [in one area] for life was a socialist whitewashing of anti-immigrant prejudice. Romantics may proclaim the need for rural villages to keep out “foreigners” but in a city this makes no sense. It is London’s role as a national melting pot.


Pablo said...

Interestingly, the BBC are repeating
that illuminating series The Secret History of Our Streets - currently. Last night we had Camberwell Grove - great stuff!