A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

An evening of meetings

... but then most of them are.

6pm I was off to the Board of Agudas Israel Housing Association, where I represent Hackney Council, to consider schemes to provide more much-needed affordable housing for the Orthodox Jewish community.

8pm down the road to the executive of Hackney North Labour Party to report on campaigning and take part in a series of mini-debates and votes about the hot issues of the day to decide how to mandate our conference delegate and what "contemporary issues" to submit text on. A mixed bag: the Campaign Group proposal to reduce the nomination threshold to run for Labour Leader wasn't passed, a motion on opposing Georgian membership of NATO wasn't passed, but the Compass model motion on Windfall Tax went through with only me voting against, and was even amended to include support for nationalisation of the utilities. You win some, you lose some.


Blogger Mark Still News said...

Hello Luke

So you went to an exclusive housing association for Jewish People, representing Hackney Council-Forgive me for saying this, I mean no offence,but it sounds so strange to me, I don't quite understand-is this to segregate Jewish people from the community?

Well that's great the motion on Windfall tax went through and with a bonus of re-nationalisation. Was this for the fuel companies?


12:58 am, September 12, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

No - not to segregate.

There are specialist housing associations for almost every ethnic minority or faith group. They tend to partner up with the bigger general housing associations on major schemes - so for instance, there are about 20 Agudas Israel properties in the middle of the 400 property Filter Beds development on Green Lanes - the opposite of segregation.

They exist because the mainstream social housing providers don't have the specialist knowledge of what specific communities need, or the right kind of housing stock.

In the case of Stamford Hill's Chassidic Jewish population they need very large properties because of family size (10 or 12 children is quite common) and the council simply doesn't have more than a handful of properties that large; they need housing located within walking distance of the relevant synagogue for their branch of the faith (you can't drive on Shabbat); and near to communal facilities such as kosher food shops; kitchens with 2 of everything - 2 sinks, 2 cookers etc is a usual requirement (if you keep kosher very strictly you run separate meat & dairy kitchens to avoid mixing the 2) and sometimes also a room equiped with a succah roof (a roof that opens for celebrating the festival of succot).

7:51 am, September 12, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe the voting on the leadership resolution was 6-6

11:19 am, September 12, 2008

Anonymous Tom Cruise said...

I think that the specialist housing needs of we Scientologists need to be taken seriously by councils and housing associations. I need to be located next to a large open space so that when Xenu returns to Earth in his spaceship he can have a nice convenient landing spot next to my house.

11:45 am, September 12, 2008

Blogger Mark Still News said...

Would one be correct in saying?
"Its irresponsible these days to have 10 or 12 children in an over populated area with limited resources"
In the 19th century life expectancy was short and it balanced out and they could always send them out to work at a very young age.
Some times I think we are over accommodating ethnic minorities and neglecting our own indigenous people. I used to know of an English couple in your area, with 2 kids stuck in a mouldy damp 1 bed flat. There was just nothing available for them-they had to split up in the end to get out of that situation. Yet just down the road we are falling over backwards for ethnic minorities, giving them massive houses 2 bathrooms and a roof that opens.Then we wonder why poor working class people are turning to the BNP?

By the way I am not racialist, I have always voted labour all my life and belonged to it for a very long time, believe in treating everyone fairly who ever they are.
But this type of 2 tier system where an English family are ignored but an ethnic family get what they want with extras. This is madness and rubbing salt into the wounds.Where is the common sense?

11:52 am, September 12, 2008

Anonymous tim f said...

Mark Still News - you haven't got the information you need to make those judgements - you don't know how much rent they're paying, who has funded the developments in the first place, etc. Besides, we're only talking about 20 properties in a development of 400.

And it's not a direct trade-off between these families and the one "indigenous" family you mentioned - Luke has clearly stated that the council doesn't have these kind of properties and that's why specialist housing associations get involved.

I haven't seen a single constructive comment from you and now you're coming out with this bs trying to divide people against each other instead of uniting to fight for decent housing for everyone.

1:39 pm, September 12, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


the Orthodox Jewish community would point out that they have been in Hackney since escaping from the Nazis in the '30s - and before that the area had a huge secular Jewish population. They are as indigenous as most other people in Hackney are.

They pay their taxes (national and local) but because services aren't often configured for their cultural and religious requirements, they get a lot less back in return and in effect pay twice for lots of things.

A bit of Housing Corporation grant to help build houses the right size for their families is the least they deserve having not been able to access the social housing everyone else in the borough can on any scale for decades.

This is actually a case of a community helping itself by setting up a housing association - and many other charitable and social care organisations - not of hand outs.

The sad thing about the English couple stuck in poor housing that you cite is that this affects people in Hackney across the board - it's not that any community is unfairly getting better housing it's that all communities are suffering from poor housing stock (being done up by a Labour council & govt through Decent Homes though after being starved of investment '79-'97) and a huge waiting list because there are far more residents in need of social housing than there are flats.

1:47 pm, September 12, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Luke, that sort of poop makes me so angry and you wonder why the BNP are becoming so popular. Housing programmes should be available for all and not such sections of society.

So what special needs do Jewish people have when it comes to housing, surely they are the same as every family.

This sort of thing is a disgrace and personally if people are that fussy then why don't they go and rent from the private sector or buy a house.

Access to housing should be based on need and need alone and should not take into account ethnic or religious origin. In fact this sort of information should not be included in the application.

5:23 pm, September 12, 2008

Anonymous tim f said...

Ignoring the usual racist drivel spouted by Rich which shows he hasn't read the comments that have been made above where Luke explains exactly why different kinds of housing are needed, I couldn't help but find the last sentence of his comment interesting.

"Access to housing should be based on need and need alone and should not take into account ethnic or religious origin."

So Rich, if access to housing is based on need and need alone, you accept that a new arrival in more need of housing should overtake someone who's been on the list for 10 years, then?

Equally if access to housing were based on need and need alone, this should mean that instead of being housed in substandard accommodation as per the current situation asylum seekers would get access to the same housing services that everyone else does.

5:41 pm, September 12, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

That is assuming there is a waiting list and all the other people on the list have less need, then yes they should under the current regime. But if it was up to me then they would get nothing because they HAVE NOT CONTRIBUTED and have no right to anything including benefits, health care or housing.

What you are suggesting tim is racist as you are assuming that British people are all white and christian. What I am saying is that it shouldn't matter. What should matter is the circumstances of that individual or family. The fact we have immigrants coming to this country without a penny or means to live is another problem and will be tackled by the next government.

What I'm saying may be hard and cruel but this country has limited resources and opening up the welfare state to foreign nationals jeopardies everything.

5:53 pm, September 12, 2008

Anonymous Rumbould said...

Another prime example of Labour supporting division in our communities. I hoped you did not condone the near lynching of an American Rabbi Nochum Rosenbergwho dared show his face in Stamford Hill

9:11 pm, September 12, 2008

Anonymous H Buch said...

A CAMPAIGNING rabbi feared he was going to be killed as he was chased by a huge crowd of Chasidic Jews.

Rabbi Nochum Rosenberg, originally from New York, America, was forced to flee from a Stamford Hill synagogue where he had been listening to a lecture on July 24.

He ran into Manor Road, and was taken to safety after stopping a passing police car.

Rabbi Rosenberg, campaigns to uncover child abuse in strictly orthodox communities, and he believes it's his work that led to the chaos.

"Some find my work very irritating as a result I have a lot of friends but also a lot of enemies.

"I was listening to the lecture in the synagogue but with more and more people coming in, it was getting a little crowded.

"I decided to leave but some people followed me and more came as word spread that I was there, they were all talking on their cellphones.

"A car mounted the pavement in front of me and everyone was shouting foul abusive language at me.

"I started to run and they chased me there must have been about 200 of them

"I thank god that the police came when they did, I shouted for them to help me saying the crowd were trying to kill me.

Police officers took Rabbi Rosenberg to Stoke Newington Police Station, before moving him to a hotel, where he stayed before returning to the States on July 27.

A spokeswoman for Hackney police said: "Officers were driving down Lordship Road at around 11.50pm.

"They saw a crowd of around 200 Chasidic Jewish men acting in a violent manner towards one man.

"The officers made there presence felt and once he was taken away the disorder ended."

Rabbi Rosenberg, is determined to continue fighting child abuse in Orthodox Jewish communities.

The 58-year-old said: "I was very surprised at what happened, it's my work that caused it, but I don't do anything bad.

"The Jewish community must deal with child molestation and not sweep it under the rug

9:15 pm, September 12, 2008

Blogger Mark Still News said...

I agree with Rich he is not being racialist-he says every one should be treated the same, can't get any fairer than that.

If a non ethnic minority family wanted social housing for 10 or 12 children-more than likely they would be frowned upon and the relevant authorities would tell them it was their own fault.If 20 ethnic minority couples have ten children each, then that's another 200 people added to the already overcrowded population.

I have actually put my neck out and defended ethnic minorities when under attack by small minded racialists and will continue to do so-but I do not accept these specialist housing schemes for ethnic minorities, why don't we have house schemes for Latino Americans, Bangladeshi's, Hindus, Buddhist's, Jehovah's, Mormon,s, Scientology's, Raving Loony Christian association, Gay cowboy's new catholic church breakaway movement, Turks association, Greek Orthodox church members,Cypriot association, Cypriot association from the occupied North of Cyprus and it goes on and on for ages. That's why we should treat every one as very special people?

OK 79 to 97 Tories did cause a lot of damage-but add to this 97 to 2008 a lot more damage done. In total that's 29 years of damage done, by the Tories & NLP.

1:35 am, September 13, 2008

Blogger Mark Still News said...

True the New Labour Government is shit

But a Tory Government would be double shit!!

What does one prefer shit or shit twice?

2:12 am, September 13, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

The way I see it, Labour has been invaded by middle class academics determined to turn this country over.

The idea that you can open your doors to the world because a minority of liberal academics believe the world should be a border less state. Well in theory yes it should but in reality it can't. This is why this experiment has gone totally wrong and why so many Labour MPS are now calling for strict limits on immigration.

There are too many Labour MPS who are purely academic and not enough with practical skills. They can't work and never have worked and have no link with the people they represent. How the hell can you know hardship if you have never experienced it and if you have never experienced it how do you know the solutions....from a text book written by some academic....useless.

8:54 am, September 13, 2008

Anonymous tim f said...

"Access to housing should be based on need and need alone and should not take into account ethnic or religious origin."

"if it was up to me then they would get nothing because they HAVE NOT CONTRIBUTED and have no right to anything including benefits, health care or housing."

So which is it Rich? You seem to be willing to argue one thing when it makes your argument credible, but when anyone challenges you it turns out you believe something else.

"The idea that you can open your doors to the world because a minority of liberal academics believe the world should be a border less state. Well in theory yes it should but in reality it can't. This is why this experiment has gone totally wrong and why so many Labour MPS are now calling for strict limits on immigration."

What experiment? Although I do support the abolition of immigration controls the Labour government clearly never has. There has been no experiment in open borders so it can't have "gone totally wrong"! In fact the New Labour government has brought in the most restrictive immigration controls there have ever been in Britain - and this isn't a recent development, they've been getting harsher and harsher since New Labour came to power. I wish the Labour government had experimented with open borders because it would've proved that open borders is the only practical solution to questions raised by globalisation - restrictive immigration controls don't tend to deter immigration they just waste resources, cause suffering and drive wages down through a separate illegal economy.

Oh, and by "so many Labour MPs" you mean "one Labour MP" if you're talking about Frank Field's proposal, because he was the only one that was loony enough to support it.

6:36 pm, September 13, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Well ideally we need a system based on personal credits and not a general pot. The more you pay in the more you get back thus encouraging people to work rather than claim. Pay in and you get access to a wealth of resources...free education, health care, dental care, help with transport to and from work, paid hoildays, sickness benefit and free access to leisure centres.

Under such a system immigrants will who have no means of supporting themselves would be forced back home if they can't earn. Surely this is fair considering the investments people are making via taxes and national insurance contributions.

Those people refusing work for more than 2 years would be subjected to the same regime as someone who has never paid in.

Yes Tim in an ideal world we should let immigrants have access to our social housing stock but when there isn't enough to accommodate British families who have contributed to the building and upkeep of these properties then the system needs to be changed. The only way we are going to improve services is through a ratio of usage and investment.

When it comes to housing I think race, religion should be left off the application. More attention needs to be placed on children, Age, disability and quality of housing.

Some of our housing stock is not fit for man or beast. I would love to get involved in the building of more social housing programmes, people need more space and we should get back to the principle of building communities rather than isolated estates.

You say no experiment but why is it under this government have we seen the biggest growth of Non EU immigration in our history?

This is what 90% of Brits feel about this subject. If you don't believe me then please knock on some doors in traditional Labour seats and you will get the same replies. This is why you are seeing the BNPs popularity growing year on year. Look at the evidence it is as clear as spring water.

If luke represents the average Labour MP then maybe it is not Brown who is the problem, it is the whole party. It seems to me that Labour are more concerned about culture and race than they are about the social mobility. Surely the biggest problem regarding equality if that of social mobility and not race or religion.

8:18 pm, September 13, 2008

Blogger Mark Still News said...

The idea of personal credits paid in Rich, should not necessarily mean money. Some one could have done a lot of charity work and got no credit.

A poor person might pay £50 taxes a week as opposed to the high earner who pays in £500 per week. Under a points system the poorer one would get less access to societies offers than the wealthier one.

But the poorer ones £50 pound contribution per week, may be a greater amount to him/her than that of the wealthier one. The poorer one feels the pinch more.The £500 pound contribution to the wealthier one would be peanuts to him/her.

Although I can see the point you are making about people coming here and not even contributed any thing to our society-then they get society falling over backwards to accommodate all their awkward expensive needs-meanwhile British people are being ignored.

Then there is the near futuristic problem that some cultures need to have 10 or 12 children.This is not suitable for our overcrowded Island-we should not accommodate this. The issue of limiting 2 children per couple must be debated before it's to late.

11:26 am, September 14, 2008

Anonymous tim f said...

"You say no experiment but why is it under this government have we seen the biggest growth of Non EU immigration in our history?"

Why is non-EU immigration somehow worse than EU immigration?

Oh, and growth is different from numbers, btw.

The point about whether people have or haven't contributed is idiotic. On that basis you'd sign up to the Caroline Flint agenda about evicting the long-term unemployed.

If people are new arrivals, they haven't had the chance to contribute that other people have had by chance of birth. They will work and they will contribute. It's a fallacy to suggest that people travel here to live off our miserly welfare system. Most migrants want to earn enough to send a large chunk of their paycheck home; you can't do that if you're on benefits. Of course, most migrants rely on private housing regardless of how much they earn.

In fact if we had less strict immigration controls it would encourage new migrants to look for jobs outside of Britain when jobs were more scarce in Britain. Polish and other Eastern European workers are now returning to Eastern Europe at a faster rate than they arrive here. But many African workers who don't have legal status are scared to leave because they know that they might not be able to come back if they do.

5:20 pm, September 14, 2008

Anonymous tim f said...

"You say no experiment but why is it under this government have we seen the biggest growth of Non EU immigration in our history?"

I didn't actually answer this. If we assumed your premises were true for a minute, it doesn't have anything to do with how strict immigration controls are - as I've pointed out, they've got much stricter since the Tories were last in. It is a combination of increasing ease of travel, increase in general prosperity and job availability under a Labour government, and (in the case of those seeking asylum) the levels of conflict around the world also cause spikes.

5:27 pm, September 14, 2008

Blogger Mark Still News said...

Yeh Tim, cause NLP followed Bush blindly into Illegal wars, therefore causing more refugees and Asylum seekers. NON EU immigration is at an all time low, that is because it is not possible to collate details on illegal immigration, which has hit the roof.

12:49 am, September 17, 2008


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