Unmasking the myths of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games

The UGRG is pleased to have sponsored: 

Fighting the Housing Monster: Film and Discussion Event 

Glasgow, Saturday 1st November

Event summary: 

The housing monster’s voracious appetite for land and rent has pushed the cost of living to breaking point. In Glasgow public housing has been eradicated since stock transfer in 2003. Rents in the ‘social housing’ sector inexorably move closer to private-market levels. Mortgage rates continue to rise disproportionately to people’s income, and housing isthe staple ingredient of the debt-based economy. Yet ‘the housing question’ seems strangely absent from current debates. This event places housing at the front of the agenda, creating a forum for debate, discussion, and resistance.

The day will comprise three films on housing which will be used to prompt discussion about the current state of housing in the UK and in Scotland more specifically. In the morning we will discuss the current (miserable) state of housing across tenures and in the afternoon we will discuss the forms of organisation around housing that might be possible or desirable in the current era.

We want to engage with a range of different groups. Not with the intention of generating a false unity, but with the hope that we can learn from each others’ struggles through discussion and find ways to challenge the housing monster in the present and future. It is our contention that these struggles will have to be undertaken at a range of different levels and that a plurality of struggles, both defensive and offensive, is welcome and necessary. All those with similar interests are warmly invited.


11.00–12.00: Inquiry: The Great British Housing Disaster, (50 mins), Dir. Adam Curtis, 1984

This early Adam Curtis film scathingly examines the cost-cutting, shoddy construction of UK system-built council housing following the fabled inter-party ‘numbers game’ of the early 1960s. Then, competing political parties vied to produce the most council housing; now, the numbers game is based on demolition and privatisation. The film chronicles how construction firms, central government, and local councils were responsible for the great British housing disaster, rather than the errant behaviour of stigmatised tenants.

12.00-1.00: Open Discussion: The Current State of Public, Social and Private Housing

What state is housing in Scotland now? What kind of housing do we want to defend and fight for? How is housing planned and managed? Who for and who against? How does housing relate to capitalist development?

In this open discussion we want to understand where we are at currently in order to discuss where we would like to go. We want to hear about people’s experience across tenures, and find out where we have shared concerns.

1.00-1.30: Lunch Break: Lunch will be provided with home-made soup, sandwiches and snacks

1.30-2.00: Whose Town is it Anyway? Easterhouse People and Power (30 mins), Dir. Tony Freeth, 1984, Channel Four

A portrait of a working class community after 25 years on the receiving end of Labour Party urban policy. The film includes interviews with local activists, a meeting in a pub, workers with ‘The Voice’ community newspaper, and a discussion with unemployed young people. The film lucidly conveys their articulate sense of anger at the failure of the authorities to get to grips with the housing and social needs of their area.

2.00-2.30: Drumchapel: The Frustration Game (21 mins), Produced by De-Classed Elements, 1989

This film is an absolutely devastating portrayal of Labour Party duplicity, chronic housing conditions, and the sham of pseudo ‘community’ initiatives. It resonates profoundly in the current ‘big society’ era. Perhaps the angriest film ever made on a housing scheme in the UK.

2.30-3.30: Open Discussion: Beyond Mediation? Housing Struggle in the Present Era

What gets in the way of independent tenants and residents organisation? What kind of ‘soft’ governance measures do we face today? Who are the agents of this mediation? What are the limits of our struggles? How can we overcome these limits? Where are our struggles placed? How can they be generalised? How can more coherent struggles be developed?

3.30-4.00: Conclusion

The aim of this concluding discussion is not to provide a definitive outcome. We are aware that many people present are already active and we have no intention of enclosing the individual autonomy of groups – we are also not interested in a leadership role! However, if points of commonality have arisen during the day we would be happy to facilitate or be involved in further discussions.

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