Socialist activists in Scotland have organised a symbolic 24 hour occupation of a major building in the centre of Glasgow, which has been left empty for years while thousands in the city are homeless or inadequately housed. The protest was organised by the left wing pro-independence movement RISE, which is supported by Socialist Resistance supporters in Scotland, against the land-banking of properties by commercial companies who are allowed to seek long term profits rather than provide affordable accommodation to poor people. As the protest comes to an end, RISE is promising further such actions unless the Scottish government and local councils respond to end the scandal of land-banking and take action to end the housing crisis.
This excellent direct action comes as the housing crisis for millions of people across the whole of Britain is worsening dramatically, the official inquiry into the Grenfell fire has got underway revealing the atrocious government policies on housing, and at the same time as a huge backlash from Labour Party members in Haringey over the privatisation plans of Labour councillors to sell off council estates to private developers. Many Haringey Labour councillors who went along with this plan have been deselected in recent weeks in advance of next May’s local elections by local members opposed to the sell-off.
Housing is now becoming a major Britain-wide scandal and socialist activists are putting pressure on governments and local councils to change direction. In London their target is the Tory government and local councils whether Labour or Tory, while in Scotland action is needed to put pressure on the SNP government and local councils. Local Councils in Scottish urban areas are mostly led by minority SNP or Labour groups, or coalitions of the two parties. Since the May 2017 elections, there are no councils in Scotland controlled by a single party, though some like Glasgow were controlled by Labour for decades. In London there will be council elections in May 2018 where housing will come to the fore. Labour and the SNP talk against the Tories, but now is the time for concerted action at both national and local level.
Socialist Resistance urges its readers to send messages of support for this RISE action from their organisations – Labour Party branches, trade unions and community/housing campaigns – and to seek to repeat this excellent initiative across the whole of the UK to put the public spotlight on the housing scandal.
Here are the details from RISE of the action they took and why. Please send further reports of local and national action in to us.