Tory Dissent: MPs Denounce Government’s Cruel Homeless Policy

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homeless in England
At least 309000 people homeless in England today

Government’s Draconian Homeless Law Sparks Tory Rebellion: A Cry for Compassion

In a rare breach of the Tory ranks, renegade MPs have joined forces with homeless campaigners to denounce the government’s draconian new assault on the most destitute in society. The sordid spectacle of ministers squabbling over how pungent the stench of poverty must waft before the baton descends underscores their fundamental inhumanity.

The wretched Education Secretary Gillian Keegan was reduced to admitting utter ignorance of what legally constitutes an “excessive odour” warranting state sanction against the homeless. It comes after more than 40 Tory MPs are expected to rebel against parts of the legislation, which critics have said is drafted so widely it could result in people being arrested or fined for having an “excessive odour”, or merely appearing as though they intend to sleep rough.

Cabinet Minister Gillian Keegan on Tuesday said people “should not be arrested just if they smell”, with Downing Street later saying Rishi Sunak agreed with his Education Secretary.

The Government has maintained the law does not criminalise people for having bad body odour, and is instead intended to target those dropping rubbish and having an impact on the environment and public health and safety.

Even the preposterous claim that arrests for ‘smelling’ should not occur betrays the vindictive spirit animating these persecutory edicts.

This latest excess of Dickensian cruelty stems from the Criminal Justice Bill – that malign brainchild of the harridan Suella Braverman, who infamously branded rough sleeping a grotesque “lifestyle choice.” Now, a handful of dissenting Tory consciences have belatedly recognised its innate iniquity.

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Backbencher Bob Blackman leads the internal rebellion, rightly condemning provisions that would “criminalise people who have no choice but to sleep on the streets.” His amendments stress that the basic acts of soliciting charity or public repose itself do not constitute “unreasonable conduct” – a damning admission that the legislation originally intended to outlaw solitary human desperation itself.

Fellow malcontent Nickie Aiken echoes the absurdity of punishing the impoverished with financially ruinous fines, sardonically inquiring how the penniless might pay the £2,500 penalty for the crime of ‘existing sans abode’.

This bad piece of legislation has its own reek. Even former Tory grandees like Iain Duncan-Smith, and Damian Green along with Labour, and the Liberal Democrats are reportedly collaborating to push back on these measures and have recognised this moral nadir as a bridge too far.

For the briefest flickering instant, the sclerotic conscience of this rotting regime seems to have roused to the inhumanity being perpetrated. Yet their pangs of remorse are likely fleeting – shallow reassurances that “guidance” will deter arresting the malodorous underclass for benedictions of basic biology.

Ultimately, this furore over fetid aromas obscures the deeper malignancy – the continued criminalization of destitution under successive governments’ neoliberal immiseration of the working masses. Until the very notion of legislating homelessness out of existence is rejected outright, this Tory party of shipwrecked souls will remain squatting in infamy’s abode.

Charities Urge Compassion, Not Punishment

1a752474 210000 homeless children in england
124,000 children. This means that there are 80% more children living in temporary accommodation than in 2010

At least 309,000 people are homeless in England today…

New research from Shelter shows at least 309,000 people in England will spend Christmas without a home, including almost 140,000 children. This is a stark increase of 14%, 38,100 people, in one year. 

Shelter’s comprehensive analysis of official homelessness figures and responses to Freedom of Information requests reveals 1 in 182 people in England are homeless today. The charity’s research shows homelessness has risen rapidly in just 12 months: over 3,000 people are sleeping rough on any given night (26% increase) and 279,400 are living in temporary accommodation (14% increase) – most of whom are families. There are also 20,000 people in hostels or supported accommodation. 

The government’s own figures reveal that almost half (47%) of families who are homeless in temporary accommodation have been there for more than two years. Councils have a legal duty to house families and people who are vulnerable, but the acute shortage of affordable homes means they are having to rely on temporary accommodation for long periods. The growing emergency is leaving families stuck for months in grotty hostels, B&Bs and cramped bedsits, often having to share beds with no, or inadequate, cooking and laundry facilities. People not entitled to accommodation may end up on the streets, sofa-surfing or in dangerous living conditions. 

Homeless charities like Shelter and Crisis have condemned the proposed law. They argue that the government should focus on preventing homelessness, not punishing those already experiencing it. Matt Downie, CEO of Crisis, emphasizes the need for a compassionate approach that offers solutions, not criminalizes people for their circumstances.

With negotiations ongoing, the fate of the bill remains uncertain. However, the unified front of campaigners, opposition MPs, and even some within the government, sends a strong message – Downie rightly urges, that what is required is not punitive compounding of deprivation, but an unconditional commitment to social housing, public services, and humane policies to prevent such abject squalor arising in the first place. Yet with each fresh atrocity slithering forth from this bourgeois den of iniquity, one despairs that any genuine compassion still lingers in their atrophied moral reservoirs.

For us the people, the path forward lies not with these irredeemable architects of societal ruin, but in mobilizing a true workers’ movement to cast their entire rotten edifice onto the fires of historical repudiation. Only then can we build the foundations for a societal model where housing, dignity and basic decency are inalienable rights – not contingent on the whims of pampered sociopaths bereft of empathy.

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