Tottenham: a change is gonna come. But how, & in whose interest
My brief contribution to a brief Guardian video on changing Tottenham has received, shall we say, mixed reviews.
I’m not Guardian-phobic even though I do think its many Corbynphobic reporters and columnists are doing the paper’s circulation no favours. That is a subject for another time.
Dave Hill the Guardian’s London correspondent interviewed me for 10 minutes or so one morning in Tottenham and the video uses I’d guess at best 2 minutes. That is hardly unusual and I think Dave Hill does a decent job reporting London.
Nor do I go along with the idea that because the video contains an interview with Labour Council leader Claire Kober that it is some kind of conspiracy to promote the changes that the leadership of the Council want to see in Tottenham. I don’t happen to agree with Ms Kober’s plans but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be heard.
What I said in the video was around racism and the jobs market in Tottenham, a view that change in Tottenham needed to be a good deal more inclusive of the community than it currently is and finally, and apparently controversially, that the area is a bit if a dump and a shithole. Well I’m a long term resident, born and bred in the area, and I’d hardly still be around if I thought that there weren’t loads of good things about the place. Not the least of them is the spirit of resistance that existing in a degree of adversity brings. Still perhaps the choice of words was shall we say unfortunate and for that I can only apologise.
Even so as a veteran Marxist with a beard I believe in looking reality in the face. Tottenham in most months has the highest jobless in London. The figure is lower than it was (think IDS) but it is not something to celebrate. There are no banks in the area and the GP service, shall we say, requires some further work. I could go on but Tottenham was shat on by Thatcher and despite some help from Labour between 1997 and 2010 it is has been shat on again since. The result is not great, how could it be?
So change has come to Tottenham. In fact thanks to the operation of capitalism it is coming. People are moving into the area because house prices are lower than they are in parts of Hackney. Since the railways came in the 1860s Tottenham has been a place of comers and goers. I’m not sure the Council leadership grasp that. The area in part regenerates itself in ways dictated by people and capital quite beyond control until we have socialist planning (which I remain a strong fan of).
But more is needed. I don’t think building tower blocks, knocking down housing and selling off Council assets to a private investment vehicle, the HDV, is that ‘more’. Of course thanks to Tory cuts the Council is strapped for cash and this is one strategy to deal with it. It will certainly work, but for who? Not I think the people of Tottenham but more likely the investors behind the HDV who do not and never will live in the area.
So a change is gonna come but it needs to be led by the people of Tottenham not by privateers.
There is a protest about the HDV at the Civic Centre, High Rd N22 on Tuesday 17th January at 6pm