Cruelty Averted, But Morality Exposed
In a rare moment of sanity, the Tory government has scrapped proposals to criminalise charity distribution of tents to the homeless. The morally bankrupt plan, brainchild of hardline former Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, would have banned tents for rough sleepers in city centres. This targeting of vulnerable groups epitomises her tenure as home secretary.
While the ban’s removal is a relief, its mere consideration exposes the rotten core of Conservatism. We must now applaud basic human decency as if it were a grand achievement. Outlawing tents for the homeless should be unconscionable, not a policy debated at the highest levels.
The bill, which was mentioned in the king’s speech last week, is being presented to parliament today. The weekend before the speech, the Financial Times said Braverman was pushing for it to include a ban on tents being given to homeless people in cities, because Braverman argued this encouraged rough sleeping. In tweets defending her plan, she described rough sleeping as a “lifestyle choice”.
Do Tories truly see destitution as a “lifestyle choice”? This rhetoric delegitimises economic realities, ignoring how a few missed paydays can spell disaster under their broken system. It reveals an estranged elite that perceives poverty as a moral failure, willful dereliction rather than systemic cruelty.
Homeless tents destroyed during Met Police operation
This U-turn came a little late for some people.
Last Friday, Refuse workers threw the tents into the back of their lorry on Huntley Street, Camden. Elodie Berland, who volunteers with outreach organisation Streets Kitchen, recorded the scene after being called there by some of the homeless men.
The Met said it “worked with University College London Hospital and other partners in response to concerns”.
It is understood that the NHS hospital trust, which has a building entrance on the road, requested the dispersal of rough sleepers but not the destruction of tents.
“Who in their right mind would throw their personal belongings in the skip,” he said. “The criminalisation of homelessness is just ridiculous.”
The 53-year-old added that Friday’s incident was “far from the first time we have seen this”.
He said the organisation wants to see a “constructive community response” following the incident, and is co-hosting a public meeting at St Michael’s Church on Camden Road, on Thursday, with local organisations.
Ms Callaghan, of Camden Council said she was “deeply concerned” by the video.
“Nothing is more important to us than the welfare, safety, and rights of every person who is experiencing homelessness,” she said.
“I’m also concerned that our contracted waste operator has been engaged in this operation and I will be personally looking into why this has happened.”
A University College London Hospital (UCLH) spokesperson said “public health concerns” prompted the action.
They added: “UCLH is deeply committed to improving the health and wellbeing of homeless people and we provide a number of services for this vulnerable group.”
Then they throw all the homeless people’s belongings into a dustbin lorry to emphasise their concerns.
Such stigmatisation of the poor permeates Conservative philosophy. We foot the bill for elite mismanagement, yet are scolded just for the circumstances of their existence. Vulnerable groups are scapegoated, punished for their predicament. A government without empathy governs without legitimacy.
This close shave with oppressing the homeless has lifted the veil on the Tory psyche. We glimpsed the disdain festering beneath genteel words about market discipline. When crisis hits, we witness the fragility of societal bonds under individualism.
As economic stability frays, we must reconnect with collective responsibility. The poor are not culpable for their plight, but victims of inequality. There but for the grace of God go any of us. Policies like the tent ban reveal a meanness of spirit that shames us all. We must confront such darkness, not normalise it.