Community Resistance, RA Vol 4, Issue 6, April/May '00


AFTER news of Glasgow City Council’s plans to make the Gorbals area the latest inner-city working class area to be the subject of ‘stock transfer’ (ie privatisation) and possible demoli­tion was leaked, The Local News reported that “a Gorbals Independent Working Class Association has been created as a result of the revelations”. A local activist sent the following report: “The Gorbals IWCA distributed over 2,000 leaflets in one evening, leading to the Chairman of Gorbals Against Sell-off (GAS), who had already attempted to get residents groups to campaign against the proposed sale, making contact. The IWCA was invited to their next meeting in order to coordinate work as a united group.

The IWCA also leafleted an open day called by the Social Inclusion Partnership (SIP). This proved useful as it meant we had the opportu­nity to talk to a number of people who had received our leaflet previously. During the day we were approached by SNP representative, Jim Byrne, asking who, why and what the IWCA was. Questions were also asked by the local Labour MSP and councillor. Interestingly the SIP open day put on display the divisions placed on each group within the hall and the voting for community services on an either/or basis, with the day shortened by two and a half hours, but still including a one-hour lunch break.

The IWCA attended the next GAS meeting, chaired by Owen Meharry (GAS) and Sean Clerkin representing Glasgow Campaign Against Housing Stock Transfer (GCAHST). The meeting was highly charged with IWCA representatives regularly clashing with members of the SWP, especially as we argued against a small committee and for the meetings to remain fully open, reluctantly, the SWP agreed for names to be taken.

The SWP-influenced GCAHST also gave incor­rect details to members of the IWCA for a conference on the sell-offs called by the Big Issue. This was their first deliberate attempt to prevent the IWCA getting into positions of usefulness.

Subsequent GCAHST meetings have seen the SWP becoming ever more strident in pushing their own programme, their usual mix of lobbying parliament, inviting trade union speakers and leafletting for their May Day rallies.

The IWCA, as well as attending these meetings and challenging the SWP, have also held a meeting with contacts, widening our area of influence and information (who ran residents groups, who opposed sell-offs, etc) and drawing-up proposals to occupy areas listed for demolition. As a footnote, it is worth mentioning that our leafletters were harassed by the police, who claimed that they had received a complaint that we had been selling drugs! Clearly our arrival on the political scene in the Gorbals has not gone unnoticed”.


COUNCIL TENANTS in Gibshill are outraged by the news that their homes, which give a “breathtaking view of the Clyde”, are to be demolished and replaced with a private development. The scheme had been put together by the Government agency, Scottish Homes, as a joint venture with the council and the Cloch Housing Association.

The council’s director of housing, Tom Keenan, has denied the allegations stating that, “there is no policy to force people out of Gibshill”. “However” he admitted, “a number of people have already chosen to leave the area and potentially other people will be offered the opportunity to leave”. A council insider, quoted in the Daily Record (30.3.00), was more forth­right, “If some really attractive housing starts to pop up, then who knows what sort of people might want to move in? Remember, it’s only 20 minutes up the motorway to Glasgow”.

Andy Best, Chairman of the Gibshill Housing Action Group, said: “Someone somewhere obviously wants to see a lot of barren land in Gibshill which will be attractive to the big private builders. People will be systematically moved out of the place we love and were brought up in because our faces don’t fit in with the grand plan. This is ethnic cleansing”.


SOUTHWARK tenants have mobilised to put a temporary halt to the Council’s plans to sell off all of its remaining housing stock (at 60,000 homes it is the highest in London) to Housing Associations. Around twenty tenants attended a lively meeting in February to discuss ways the plans could be opposed. It was agreed that all Southwark tenants needed to have the implications of transfer explained and, as a result, several large estates have already been targeted by leaflets and canvassers opposed to the sell-offs.

The Council’s Strategic Committee met to discuss the plans in March and were met by an angry lobby of tenants. The Labour council is already vulnerable, with the Lib-Dems, who already control most of the northern part of the borough, breathing down their necks. Following the Committee meeting, the Lib­Dem press release proclaimed that their opposition had been responsible for the “victory”, whereby a decision was put off until the next full council meeting.

However, the Lib­Dems only want “all” the options to be put to Southwark tenants.

While some good work has gone on, the ‘Defend Council Housing in Southwark’ campaign is still largely dominated by the SWP Their influence creates the danger that the campaign will become another vehicle for sterile and irrelevant sloganeering. Already the East Dulwich Estate TA (controlled by the SWP) has produced a leaflet condemning New Labour for having “forgotten that working people fought to get the right to council housing...They would rather spend the money on bombing Serbia and Iraq”. Furthermore, the campaign is now asking all supporters to travel on their coach to Birmingham on 1st April to demonstrate to save Rover! Tenants and activists will need to come up with far more concrete plans if we really hope to worry the Council over the strength of opposition.

Reproduced from RA Bulletin Volume 4, Issue 6, April/May '00