Wednesday, November 30, 2005

How much is that doggy out the window?

Originally posted by The Realist

Somehow, and I’m not entirely sure how, a group of people in Central London have, with the total knowledge of the police, been stealing from the Council. But (and here’s the rub, kids) it’s been going on for 30 years.

That’s right, no-one there has paid council tax in 30 years. Due to unforeseen circumstances (well, holidays), I didn’t pay my council tax for one month and was threatened with jail within a week.

Apparently, it’s London’s oldest squat? So fucking what? This isn’t some cultural centre for an oppressed minority we’re talking about here. I don’t see many blue plaques on the walls there proclaiming ‘Kermit the Hippy lived here in 1977’. I have no idea why people have sympathy with their ‘cause’ – even the most hardened crusty must surely have choked on their dreadlocks when they saw one of their comrades throwing his dog out of the window.

This is what it boils down to: squatters are a hideous throwback to a political concept from the 70s. In 2005, the ‘way of life’ or ‘like-minded community’ argument doesn’t, like them, wash.

Whilst it is shocking that houses are left empty while people are homeless, that is a very separate issue. This isn’t the tragic tale of a desperate family’s desire to fulfil the bottom rungs of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – this is a community of people who have got away with living rent free and refusing to pay any part towards the upkeep of their community.

For which read theft.

29 comments:

Citizen Sane said...

For some reason it makes me think of that Simpsons episode when Mr Burns is reminiscing about his favourite old guard dog.

"Oh yes, I remember when he bagged his first hippy. He certainly didn't think it was very 'groovy'."

Hobbzee said...

But really, if no one else is living there what difference does it make? I agree that they should move out when they're told to but surely the council should take some responsibility for allowing it to carry on for so long? I know they probably all stink but beyond that what harm are they really doing? Obviously the council has missed out on collecting council tax but isn't that the council's own fault?

Anonymous said...

Squaters are right up there, or should that be down there, with hippies and travellers as far as I'm concerned. Bunch of workshy spongers who should get a job and contribute to society like everyone else, and by job I mean something other than juggling or busking badly.

I just hope the 200 coppers who evicted them put the batons we supply them with to good use.

GB

ph said...

Lambeth council is now run by the Lib Dems and Tories, after years of Labour rule. I assume that it was typical wooly socialist thinking (combined with mis-management and incompetence) that allowed this situation to go on for so long. Maybe the Lib Dems and Tories are more interested in promoting a successful borough than they are in promoting political dogmas

Anonymous said...

"if no one else is living there what difference does it make?"

So that makes it acceptable to effectivelt theive your way through life without having to pay like the rest of us?

Admittedly Lambeth (surprise surprise, the squat is in their shockingly managed borough)didn't do anything about this for years. But now - and not before time - they have, and the squatters have absolutely *no* right to reply.

They've been living rent free for years when they clearly shouldn't have been, and now their time of living live for free is up. Tough fucking shit.

DA

Hobbzee said...

I think if people want to live like tramps in disused houses that's their call. It wouldn’t be my choice. All I'm saying is that itdoesn't really sound like they're harming anyone other than themselves in their presumably squalid lifestyles therefore doesn't particularly bother me! I'd have thought there were far worse things to get upset about in terms of councils being neglectful and as I say, it's the council's fault for letting it happen in the first place.

ph said...

HOBBZEES'S WORLD

Little man from council:
Could you possibly pack up as we would like our house back.

Squatters:
Right Ho! we will be off then, we have left the key under the mat.

REAL WORLD

Little Man from Council:
Could you possibly pack up as we would like our house back

Squatters:
Fuck Off

Result Hundreds of thousands of pounds spent trying to remove the squatters, paid for by you and I.

mAc Chaos said...

I'd imagine the social consequences of allowing these squatters to simply sleaze their way around their neighborhoods would be abysmal. So they have no right to it, and there's little reason to bear their freeloading.

tafka PP said...

Inspired Title! (Just saw the pic) A man who throws his dog out the window clearly never deserved anything for free, benevolently blind-eye Labour council or no.

Anonymous said...

... and another thing: all this balls about 'a real sense of community among us, old dave used to sweep the street at 5am etc'. They were united by one thing: not paying for where they live.

DA

Laura said...

I totally agree with ph

*checks pulse*

Miss Hap(py) said...

Jesus Christ you sound like Daily Mail readers! Just because someone lives in a squat does not automatically mean that they are "tramps" or "work-shy". For your information, a lot of the people living in St Agnes Place had jobs just like the rest of us. Living there were teaching assistants, plumbers and electricians to name a few. So f##king what if they lived rent-free. I'm sure that if we could all get away without paying rent or council tax, we would!

ph said...

So it is OK not to pay tax, not to pay rent, not to pay for goods and services as long as we can get away with it. Talk about selfish.

I assume that the teaching assistants, plumbers and electricians all worked for free.

Anonymous said...

I know noone likes paying council tax but we do it (grudgingly) because someone has to clean the streets and pay for libraries and coppers for example. The fact they have jobs just makes it worse, I may have sympathy if they were jobless and homeless but they are just selfish. I hate to think what kind of example the teaching assistant is setting the kids she teaches. Maybe they aren't workshy*, they're still spongers.

GB

*I bet they are.

H said...

Fascinating blog to come across out of nowhere.

For whatever reason when clicking on comments, I always end up in the middle of them, instead of at the beginning, so the first I read was this from Ph:

"So it is OK not to pay tax, not to pay rent, not to pay for goods and services as long as we can get away with it. Talk about selfish."

Assumed this was some wierd computer glitch which had taken me to a totally different blog that I had just been reading about Hareidim in Israeli society.

So just that you all know - imagine 15% of society being squatters!

Have to agree with whoever said you all sound like daily mail readers. Whatever we may think about squatting, we must surely recognise that their choice to make that move to an alternative lifestyle is a reaction to circumstances which society has placed them in, blah blah blah blah, all the old liberal bollocks. Basically leave the little scallies alone and concentrate on the fact that your tax pounds are being used to murder Iraqi children.

Citizen Sane said...

The squatters have been resisting eviction for over 30 years. It's not the case that the council were just sitting back and "letting it happen" all this time - it's been grinding through the courts for decades. (The first eviction notice was served in 1977!) Nor is it the case that they are just making good use of empty buildings - their refusal to budge has been holding back a redevelopment programme to create new affordable housing and a sports centre.

Bottom line is: they have no right to be living there, whoever they are, so it's right that they be turfed out and the buildings pulled down.

H - glad you like the blog. But I have to take issue with your comment "your tax pounds are being used to murder Iraqi children". The biggest danger to the welfare of Iraqi children (and all Iraqi people) comes from the fascistic "insurgency" and their legion of deranged suicide bombers, not from the British army.

H said...

Citizen,

It is all very well claiming that the occupation is there to protect the citizens from the fascist insurgency, but isn't the fascist insurgency a reaction to the occupation? Essentially, even if it is just one big cycle of violence, it is not as if it can't be broken - why should British troops be in Iraq, if the majority of the people no longer want them (to ignore the question whether the majority of Iraqis ever wanted them there)?

Citizen Sane said...

But to suggest that our taxes are being used to murder Iraqi children, as if that is policy, is ridiculous. Regardless of the arguments for invasion, sudden withdrawal of US and British forces now would make the current problems look like a Sunday picnic.

Citizen Sane said...

P.S. The majority of Iraqis want to live in peace under their own sovereign democracy. . . and a majority also want the troops out. Unfortunately, these two wishes contradict each other at the moment.

ph said...

H Why does the desire to treat citizens equally equate to reading the Daily Mail?

H said...

Ph,

Firstly - it was not I, but Ms Happy who first brought in the daily mail thing - I merely agreed with her, but I think the point she was making was about knee jerk reactionary, anything-but-liberal thinking. I.e - squatters don't pay their way, they are bad. Now if you read how I ridiculed my own point (by finishing it with blah, blah, blah, liberal bollocks) you will see that I was generally only fitting in with the flippant, non-politically aligned, but willing to raise some questions type of thinking which I thought was welcomed here on this blog. I in no way truly believe that the people who have commented or the people who actually write the blog are indeed knee-jerk reactionary neo-conservatives. Nor do I think that they/you/we all read the daily mail. Nor do I really think that people who read the daily mail are all small-minded cretinous homunculi (well, not all of them). I think what I was trying to say is, it's a stereotype and a gag.

H said...

Citizen,

Firstly - a very simple (and yes, simplistic) equation.

You pay tax.
That tax in part goes to fund the armed forces.
The armed forces have and will continue to kill Iraqi children.

I did not for one second suggest that the targetting of children was deliberate. I do not believe that the soldiers there are acting immorally. But the decision to send them was absolutely immoral and by their presence there, civilian child casualties are guaranteed. So yes - your taxes are being used on the killing of Iraqi children, though no-one actually wants that to happen. Nevertheless it is an inevitable side effect.

I agree that the majority of Iraqis want a) to live in peace and security and independence and b) for the troops to leave.

You claim they contradict - do the majority of iraqis think they contradict? Why don't we let them think for themselves. Isn't the line - we are there for the natives own good a little old-school empire? Do "we" really think that if "we" weren't there, the Iraqis would be completely unable to govern themselves. Don't get me wrong - I, like George W Bush, believe that it would be better for Iraq to live in a secular, democratic, open society - but that doesn't mean I have the right to send an army to force them to live like that.

Anyway - I am sure if you wanted to have a discussion about Iraq you would have blogged about it. Wanted to say that I very much enjoy reading the blog. thanks.

ph said...

H - I think that many people's reaction to Iraq(mine included) is to pull the duvet over their heads and whisper 'Go Away'. I know this is wrong but it certainly feels like Issue Fatigue is setting in.

Citizen Sane said...

H - I understand your example, and yes that is very simplistic. But arguments like that make me think: "George Galloway". Guess we'll have to agree to disagree on that one.

As for ongoing military presence, well that is now at the discretion of the Iraqi government: who want us to stay for the time being, even if most Iraqi people, when asked, do not.

Anyway, glad you like it here, hope you keep reading. Welcome.

H said...

Did you hear that the Jewish Agency for Israel have recently sacked their Aliyah shaliah? They claim there is no need to appoint a new one - the role of encouraging Jews to move to Israel has been filled by George Galloway and Ken Livingstone.

Believing that the War on Iraq is an invasion/occupation does not put you in the same camp as Saddam Hussein or his campaign fund manager, George Galloway. My point was very simple - IF one uses the tax argument against squatters then one can apply it to anything one disagrees with.

Squatters don't actually cost the tax payer money necessarily (unless you happen to live in that area) whereas your tax pounds are being used for whole bunch of things that the thinking public might disagree with. So it turns out you agree with the war on Iraq - and I don't. Fine! I certainly agree we can agree to disagree. Far too much agreement there.

Keep it coming - too many blogs aren't worth reading. The ones that are should be forced to keep a high tempo.

H

Anonymous said...

h, even if they didn't cost the taxpayer any money, it is the principle of not playing by the same rules as the rest of us, and then having the nerve to complain when they're kicked out.

"Basically leave the little scallies alone" - if everyone took that attitude, there would a hell of a lot of people taking the piss.

DA

Anonymous said...

... and surely they *do* as we ultimately end up with higher council tax bills!

DA

mAc Chaos said...

The Iraqis may not be pleased with our presence during the reconstruction, but I suspect if you took a vote on it today they would quietly ask us to stay. People aren't stupid. They know if we left that they'd be as lambs before the wolves.

Citizen Sane said...

Going back to the squatters I will say only this: if you want to set up your own anarcho syndicalist commune (man) then do it on private property, and don't expect me to subsidise your project.