Writing in the Guardian today (Saturday, 6 December), Ian Jack writes that he had thought the New Era estate outrage could spark a London revolution but has now sadly concluded that the apparent acquiescence of the public has meant it would not. The estate which comprises 96 flats and a dozen shops in Hackney has been acquired by a US private equity firm who plan to cash in on the London property boom by jacking up the rents, evicting the tenants and selling the properties to those rich enough to own them. Our legal system provides no protection for tenants to stop them doing just that.
Why no outrage? Why are the foundations of City Hall and the Palace of Westminster not shaking? Partly, of course, it is because our newspapers are, with the exception of the Morning Star, owned by the same interests who stand to gain from exploiting ordinary working people in this way. The other mass media are either similarly owned or, in the case of the BBC, deeply cowed and compromised. Partly it is because our trade unions are in shackles due to the anti-trade union laws and their former political voice, the Labour Party, no longer speaks for them, having been penetrated by the same class interests who will benefit from the New Era rip off. Why else would Labour be about to embark on the general election by offering the electorate oa programme of austerity similar to that of the Tories and without even the remote possibility of abandoning one of its supports, the Titanic that is now the EU? This act of madness would surely qualify as “the longest suicide note in history”, not their 1983 election manifesto. Telling us there is “no alternative” might have worked for Thatcher, but it isn’t going to work again for Labour. They need to say they will tax the rich and expropriate the exploiters – it’s as simple as that.
There are, of course, other reasons why the New Estate outrage has not provided the spark for revolution. Lenin summarised them brilliantly his paper in 1915 on the Collapse of the Second International https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1915/csi/ii.htm. We have to note, however, that only two years after writing this paper, it happened in Russia. Capitalists, do not sleep easy in your beds.