Thrown Into The Wilderness

 

 

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Come Out The Wilderness – Bruce Kenrick, Fontana Publishers

 

It may or may not be something that caught your attention but if you live in Notting Hill, there is a conflict going on in your neighbourhood that’s similar to a tug of war and it’s been going on ever since the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June. Although technically the issue was alive way before the fire, the events surrounding the tragedy seem to have exacerbated the situation. It appears at first glance to be the community’s reclamation of property from the corporate real estate community killers, but it’s more accurate to describe it as the community trying to hold on to their right of abode and seeking some kind of guarantee that their landlords give a …(explicit)… and actually want them there.

While you sleep, groups of regular people like you that do not own property in London are awake at ungodly hours printing flyers, writing letters, emails, creating banners and appealing to any government official that will listen to them to secure YOUR homes. That is of course if you are a tenant of Notting Hill or Genesis Housing.

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Out in the grind

Forces

Two of the largest housing associations in the country, Notting Hill, and Genesis, both members of the G15 (an amalgamated group of UK housing associations), have decided to join forces merging their tenancy obligations into one big soup. On tacitly agreeing to this with no disclosure of the pros and cons underlying the merger, tenants are pretty disgruntled. Why? Well, to start with they have not consented to it and feel marginalised in such a major move. Also, there’s a resounding feeling that their acquiescence plays a large part in them moving this forward in a swift need-to-know only basis. The suspicious manner in which this is being executed raises questions as to the legality of it all especially in the way it was sprung on the community right after the fire.

What will this mean to the tenants’ security?  With all this considered who stands to gain from this corporate deal? Is the interested party Genesis Housing, Notting Hill Housing or the confused tenant?

As obvious questions as these may seem to those making the deal, those who are only just becoming aware of the shifts in name, business practice, policy, and structure feel the need to start connecting the dots. In my hunt to bring this information forth, I searched Notting Hill Housing Group on the mother of search engines: Google. My reason being that I wanted to know if the business structure had changed from a ‘Trust’ to ‘Group’, at what point, if it made any difference and what that difference would mean to the beneficiaries of the trust and also who might the beneficiaries be? Trust, Beneficiary, ya know?

Google shows no ‘Trust’  in NHH.

 

The screen grab above shows that there is no mention of a ‘Group’ and there is no ‘Trust’. What is this Group thing and where’d it come from? Other sources (online) show neither Group nor Trust, just Notting Hill Housing. In my confusion, I looked for a good old trusty Wikipedia page. After Wikipedia’s brazen digital panhandling I find only a few sentences of very flattering information about Bruce Kenrick:  Notting Hill Housing (whatever’s) founder, who’s wonderful sentiment should have been immortalised but instead was abandoned and, has now decayed beyond recognition.

Seeing that there are few ways available to extract this standard but necessary information or even find whether they are simply registered as a Trust or another corporate body, I decided to call the principle. My call to the main office number was diverted to what must have been assumed to be a housing officer of mine. How rude! I find it quite insulting because it’s these same presumptions that take away the freedom of choice. Anyway, I hang up and try once again in case it’s a mistake. Same thing. I hang on and finally speak with a man who explains that my number is listed as being the housing officer attached to my number’s  property tenant, and since it was diverted to her and she’s on leave it then got diverted to him and he merely answered to assist with tenancy issues. On discovering that it was not one of the thousands of housing issues, his advice was to go to the website and find the email of the relevant department to answer my query. As far as he knew Notting Hill has various departments, including property sales. Basically ‘NOTHING’.

Okay, there’s no way to get an official answer to my question.

 

 

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A point in paint

 

 

Con-opoly

 

 

Beneficiaries 

I’m still confused as to who the beneficiary of this major action is and should rightfully be. Is it Genesis Housing with Notting Hill Housing Association or the tenant? Assuming it’s the tenant, will they enjoy a more personalised interaction? You know, repairs done within 48 hours, Anti-social behavior handled within a few weeks rather than a few years, honourable servicemen that take pride in their work and don’t run off before you’ve noticed that they’ve accidentally chipped your bathtub or leave your bathroom wall tileless with a promise to return to finish on Monday morning, to never EVER return. Maybe no more contracts terminated in the middle of major jobs. Will they now handle rodents with modern methods instead of the old Karma-ignorant, Tom and Jerry cheese traps and poison or maybe they might be honest about the state of their kitchen and bathrooms they supply and update them befooooore the appliances become dangerous, rather than patching up patches.

An edited depiction of cheapsKate Davis and associates.

Please consider, these issues are just the cover on the menu before you even look at the main. These complaints are a book in itself. As extensive as they might be this is still only the account of a single household amongst many. Tenants have been known to wait six weeks to have a leaking boiler repaired, and that’s after being told that an emergency plumber had been dispatched. Admittedly we are talking about an NHH subcontractor (BSW heating) but you have to also wonder what kind of furtive deals they offer these contractors that tend to give no **** about the job they do, whether it’s done well or what time they turn up if they even appear at all.

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Congruous. Gemini Verney-Dyde (LNHH), Jeremy Corbyn, and Emma Dent Coad 

 

Expansion & Original Mission

You don’t need too much of an imagination to know that by expanding into an even larger dysfunctional system it can only get worse. Tenants will be lost in a machine that’s getting further and further away from personally knowing who they are beyond a flat number and surname, instead placing them in an imaginary box to tick and satisfy their software. It appears that is their primary goal on the other side of the phone at the end of the conversation:  To select one out of three options agreed under duress by a mute inert soulless product, meeting the absolute minimum requirement. They’re happy :-).

 

I feel no threat of slander or libel to state that the repair and maintenance services retched from Notting Hill Housing Group and Genesis are nothing less than an insult to the dweller. You could actually pick a tenant’s name out of a hat for their own personal account (anyone) and you would probably call us prophets. It’s pretty clear that their ideal customer would be one from war-torn parts of the globe who (sadly) would feel quite grateful for the subpar shelter provided.

Bruce Kenrick’s mission abolished

Since the NHH wish to steer our minds towards Bruce Kenrick’s original mission let’s see the legacy he intended to leave. It seems clear that, as a priest, he attempted in his book ‘Come Out Of The Wilderness’ to reach those that he felt the church had failed. His opening quote, and the book title, clearly reflects the words of the small voice that he wished to amplify by taking the church as a system of relief to the environment of the forgotten ones who could not reach their temple and receive salvation.

So much for Kenrick’s noble intentions. Let’s look briefly at the G15’s mission which, according to their website, states that: “We work closely with central, regional, and local government; with private and voluntary partners; and with our residents to improve the quality of life for Londoners”.

Doesn’t it look like it’s written in order of importance? and of course residents, as usual, are the hindmost priority.  In light of this, the two housing groups couldn’t find a better time to reconsider their priorities and intentions as it becomes increasingly clear that their informed tenants do not want this. So much for the small voice and the tortured soul of Bruce Kenrick through his greedy inheritors.  Maybe the concerns of the smaller voices will be brought out of the wilderness into the hearts of the shareholders. How beautiful it would be if Kate Davis, who surprisingly came from humble beginnings, found that feminine sense of nurture beyond her gynoid role and did a 360˚ turn showing that NHH really gave a …. about their original mission. Without the incredibly selfless efforts of Gem and the gang at LNHH to make your home in your community secure, it’s very DOUBTFUL. 

Real Heroes.Gemini Verney-Dyde, Leona Lewis, and the gang. NHH Listen.

 

https://listen-nhh.org/

https://www.facebook.com/events/1556496207766397/

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2018/01/12/notting-hill-genesis-merger-legally-flawed/

More May = More Prevent Strategy

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Islamist terror in Paris, Islamist terror in London, and there are many factors driving the violence. Theresa May has chosen to tackle the issue with a consciously narrow programme called the Prevent Strategy. The government has considered certain factors, but others are not up for discussion. The result has been a decontextualized debate, and a Conservative victory in the polls in June will have implications for communities across the country concerned about the pull of terrorism.

 Basic info on Prevent: http://www.ltai.info/what-is-prevent/

It does not take forensic analysis to know that foreign policy, economics, family breakdown and the housing crisis are among the drivers of the political violence that has taken place in European cities.

Another key factor is that an individual or group eventually decides to commit a violent act. And this is the level at which the Prevent Strategy tackles the issue. As Home Secretary, Prime Minister May oversaw the implementation of Prevent, which provides training to public sector workers on how to spot signs of vulnerability to extremism, works with individuals at risk and provides a counter-narrative to nihilistic, hateful and violent philosophies.

Criticism

Prevent is also very aware of its own vulnerability to criticism, and is keen to have respected Muslim community figures on its side. Systematic promotion, branding and getting out key messages are prevalent at their events and training courses. There is a Prevent message, and little space for manoeuvre around it. One community leader told me that when they raised foreign policy concerns with Prevent officers from the Home Office, they were met with the message “‘your point is noted’. But there is never a suggestion of anything changing. There is never any acknowledgement of Britain’s foreign policy mistakes”.

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The Muslim Council of Britain is critical of Prevent, as it says the strategy only coordinates with groups willing to bite their tongues over UK foreign policy. The MCB has claimed that it will set up a parallel anti-terror programme carrying a simpler message: all violence is wrong. But only the government has adequate resources to tackle the very real problem of British people travelling to Syria to fight.

The community leader told me: “Prevent is like a budget overhead, there’s a sense that Prevent is where the money is to deliver community programmes, so let’s go with that”. Community groups receive help with their websites and social media and some funding for projects, in return Prevent has access to the grassroots and can engage with them on getting the Prevent agenda out to communities.

Main Threat

In some areas Prevent is seen as benevolent, in others it is seen as a hostile monitoring network keeping tabs on Muslims, harassing and stigmatising people and removing children from schools unnecessarily. Prevent has listed “empathy” with the Palestinians, criticism of foreign policy in the Middle East and criticism of Prevent itself as issues that needed to be “risk-assessed and managed” and that “may be regarded as extremist but are not illegal”. The scope for abuse of this power is broad.

Islamic extremism is the “main threat” identified by the Home Office and while Prevent officers are at pains to point out that they also take on far-right extremism, they do not acknowledge that takes place in a society in which the political and media establishment are anti-Muslim, and vilification of Muslims is a tool for power for Le Pen, Trump, May, Natanyahu and others. Theresa May being in ideological lock step with President Donald Trump, with his bombs, travel bans and racist rhetoric is the tip of a huge iceberg, but this is not on the agenda at Prevent meetings.

As well as not addressing many of the issues head on, the Prevent Strategy has the potential to be used to subdue communities and groups who have genuine grievances

Former Conservative Cabinet Minister Sayeeda Warsi has criticised Prevent and its narrow focus on ideology and Jeremy Corbyn called it “often counter-productive”. Under Labour it might change. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the government needed “to sell it to communities”.

The problem is that all the government does is “sell it”, a salesperson with an inferior product becoming yet more passionate about its virtue for fear of a serious, in-depth debate and the whole façade crumbling.

Alternative thinking

Theresa May will double down on Prevent if she wins the upcoming election. A strategy that is the equivalent of a plastic mouse trap placed next to a large, overflowing rubbish bin. It’s good to catch a few mice, but the wider problem is ignored.

As well as not addressing many of the issues head on, the Prevent Strategy has the potential to be used to subdue communities and groups who have genuine grievances. In this way, class is the issue. Foreign policy isn’t carried out to benefit the poor, but the oil and arms companies. The housing crisis and austerity impoverish and trap the poor, but they cannot be discussed in the mainstream because this would question the framework of the class-based system.

Islam itself offers an alternative way of thinking about human experience and dominant economic system and cultures in a continent in which many never enjoy the benefits of liberty and freedom.

The result of a narrow focus on immediate causes is a missed opportunity to really confront a terrorism that is growing and spreading across the planet. And the victims include innocent British citizens, in London, in Paris and beyond. The government doesn’t want this, but it is unable or unwilling to broaden its approach to tackle the deeper issues. 

By Tom Charles

ISIS and North Kensington: https://urbandandylondon.com/2015/09/07/once-you-go-to-syria-you-aint-coming-back-isis-and-north-kensington-2/

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Gerald Kaufman Tribute

There are two kinds of politician worth knowing: those of conviction, and those of savvy. The former paid tribute to the latter this week, using a word I had to look up. Jeremy Corbyn called Gerald Kaufman “an iconic and irascible figure” after the father of the House died Sunday, aged 86.

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Irascible – ‘easily angered’ – Corbyn chose the right word. Maybe he remembered the time in Beirut in 2011 when Gerald’s irascibility was aroused by a restaurant having run out of ice cream. With a black cloud hanging over Gerald’s head, other members of the group tried to pacify Kaufman, leader of the delegation and somebody for whom we were happy to make special dispensations. Nothing was working and the mood around the table was heavy, but Corbyn had sneaked out and returned from the Corniche with ice creams for everybody.

Gerald’s irascibility was also deployed for just causes. Arriving at the Palestinian-Jordanian border in 2010, a British-Palestinian member of our delegation was detained by the Israelis. Gerald refused to proceed without our friend, offering no compromise to the Israelis, and fiercely argued his way up the chain of command until he found somebody with the power to yield to common sense.

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The conditions at Lebanon’s refugee camps shocked everybody on the 2011 delegation, and it was Gerald who expressed this most succinctly in this article published by Urban Dandy.

“Bourj al-Barajneh is the worst single place I have ever seen, with children haunting narrow gullies with sewage flowing down the middle; with no legitimate electricity supply, with tangled wires from bootlegged electricity hanging so low in the alleys as to constitute a near-mortal hazard. Yet 20,000 are doomed to live out their lives there, from childhood to old age, in a tiny area that has more people per square kilometre than Hong Kong or Mumbai”.

Gerald saw it as a politician’s responsibility to do their utmost to reduce human suffering and degradation. He was unflinching in his intolerance of injustice and cruelty, however powerful the wrongdoer. He was aided in his pursuit of justice by a remarkable talent with words and an ability to deploy them unerringly.

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In Hebron. Photo: AFP

At a meeting with the UN in the West Bank, the room was too hot and Gerald drifted off to sleep. I nudged him repeatedly but he would drift off again, missing most of the presentation. Being the leader of the delegation, Gerald was to give feedback on behalf of the group. I exchanged nervous glances with a fellow organiser, but to our relief Gerald awakened and responded to the presentation with a series of apparently well thought out points that went to the heart of the issue, expressing his gratitude to our host and making everyone in the room question whether they had really just seen this 80-year-old man having a nap.

“Do you remember one phrase used by a Labour frontbencher since 2010?” Gerald asked me before the last election, and in that question he summed up a major problem that Blair, Brown and Miliband have created; a set of MPs that lack what Gerald had in spades: gravitas.

He was a great writer, with careers as a satirist, journalist, columnist, speech writer, phrase-maker and author. It was he who described Labour’s 1983 manifesto as “the longest suicide note in history”.

Gerald held Ministerial positions in the departments of Industry and Environment, and we can only speculate about how he would have dealt with the Israeli government had he become Foreign Secretary in 1987. The sycophantic grovelling of successive Tory and Labour governments would surely have been dispensed with:

The Israel lobby didn’t know what to do with Gerald. He made plenty of controversial statements about Jews and “Jewish money” but when faced with stinging criticism for his remarks, he was memorably nonchalant: “I can’t remember every comment I mutter under my breath”.

Gerald could not be dragged into the distraction of the Israel lobby’s games, life had too much more to offer him. He wouldn’t care what they are saying about him now. He was a man of hilarious anecdotes and dry Yorkshire wit, as charming with those he liked as he was ferocious with those he considered fools. His London flat was a shrine to Hollywood musicals; he loved them “because they’re beautiful”. He also loved literature, television, fashion and people; he was a dandy, a charmer, belligerent and brilliant, I will miss him.

Sir Gerald Kaufman, 21 June 1930 – 26 February 2017

 

By Tom Charles

What Happens to Suspended Labour Politicians?

Hopefully not this…

The campaign against Jeremy Corbyn was in full swing long before a Labour MP shouted “Nazi apologist” in Ken Livingstone’s face on a day of apparently choreographed media attacks, aimed at distorting debate on Israel and undermining Corbyn. No sane person would believe that Corbyn harbours any antisemitic tendencies, so softer targets have been sought in order to defame the Labour leader by association.

One such target lives right here in Notting Hill. Councillor Beinazir Lasharie was libelled labelled an antisemite by media outlets such as The Sun.

Suspended

What has happened to Councillor Lasharie raises questions about Labour’s approach.

In October 2015 the councillor was suspended by Labour and instructed not to talk to the press after The Sun newspaper ran a story that Lasharie had posted a video on Facebook which claimed that ISIS was created by Israel. The story was taken up by the right wing blogger Paul Staines, who goes by the moniker Guido Fawkes. Continue reading

At the boozer with Jeremy Corbyn

Here’s the footage from my phone of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell’s victory speeches to supporters on Saturday afternoon shortly after Corbyn’s victory had been announced:. 

Not exactly a hardcore volunteer (I did a day at the Corbyn campaign office this summer), Urban Dandy still had the best seat in the house having spotted Corbyn’s taxi pulling over as we walked down to St James’s Park.

John McDonnell MP, Shadow Chancellor: “The earth moved” – cue loud cheers…

Jeremy Corbyn MP, Labour Leader: “Hope…justice…inclusion”

He's in there somewhere
He’s in there somewhere

 

By Tom Charles

Unknown Hell – Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon

Pic at Bourj al Barajneh camp, Beirut, which inspired the title 'Unknown Hell'. Graffiti in foreground is of the Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem
 

In February 2011 a group of British Labour MPs joined a Parliamentary delegation to Lebanon, home to 400,000 Palestinian refugees. They live in hell, but it is never mentioned in the mainstream media. Click here to read the findings of Gerald Kaufman, Michael Connarty and Jeremy Corbyn.

Unknown Hell