Friday, August 19, 2016
Brixton I miss you
Whilst I am on leave, I can still see what is happening a stone's throw from my office. Therefore please forgive a somewhat parochial blog post;
After Brighton, Brixton is my second home - and the place where I have first lived, and then worked, for more than thirty years.
In Brixton I have been loved, hated, mugged, drunk and bored. Through those streets I have marched, demonstrated, ambled, strolled and ran.
Almost every picket line I have ever stood on has been in Brixton - and through more than three decades I have been constantly engaged and entertained by the best bit of London.
The gentrification of Brixton is a genuine tragedy, as an influx of predominantly middle-class, predominantly white people bring "craft beer" and "small batch coffee" in their wake.
Lambeth is becoming a more and more unequal place in part because of this influx - and local people (including, but not exclusively, black people) are marginalised and pushed out by an influx of the soulless and the bland.
As a middle-aged, middle-class white man who has been part of Brixton for more than thirty years, I could weep for the loss of the vitality, diversity and energy which is being smothered by gentrification.
The challenge which faces Labour in areas such as Lambeth is not just how to regenerate and develop the economy, but how to empower the community. The challenge which faces the community is how to use the political vehicle of the Labour Party in the interests of the people the Party was created to serve.
Another dimension of what is essentially the same political challenge is the problem of how best to confront institutional racism in an organisation with a majority black workforce which has an increasingly white leadership.
I don't claim to have answers to the questions posed by this challenge, but I doubt they will be found over either a craft beer or a small batch coffee whilst watching the eviction of local traders.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.