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From: The Socialist issue 1077, 11 March 2020: Coronavirus: Full NHS funding now

Search site for keywords: Boris Johnson - Workers - Housing - Homeless - Health - Homelessness

Housing workers explain reality to idiot Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson, photo Chatham House/CC

Boris Johnson, photo Chatham House/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Jack Jeffrey, support worker for homeless people

I work at a homeless day centre in central London, supporting rough sleepers with severe mental health issues. In an attempt to distract attention from his continued mismanagement of floods, Boris Johnson decided he would visit us and announce increased funding for rough sleeping projects.

The format was odd, but not surprising, considering his desire to avoid speaking to the public. Instead of visiting the day centre he would speak to five pre-prepared clients and then a 15-minute conversation with five members of staff. I was one. There was no charm or preparation, just bluster and a complete disconnect from the lives of real people.

He swanned in with Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for housing. He boasted his plan to expand Housing First by 6,000 beds would "eradicate homelessness". However, when pressed that this didn't even match the 9,000 hostel beds lost since 2010, he had no reply.

He switched the conversation to increased funding for mental health provision. When I gave an example of a vulnerable client who had been unable to access treatment due to lack of beds, his face started to drop.

Again a change of topic, this time to drugs. In an attempt to dodge a question about the effect of local authority cuts on substance abuse treatment, he called for stricter laws.

One of my colleagues raised decriminalisation in Portugal. Incredibly his reply was "what happened in Portugal?"

When he heard that decriminalisation led to a significant drop in addiction and drug-related crimes, he turned confused to Robert Jenrick and asked: "secretary of state is that true?" Blushing he mumbled: "I think so prime minister".

He made some more poorly informed comments on social housing, then panicked and staggered off when someone said revoke Right to Buy.

Only his media team and the Evening Standard were present. The whole interaction passed unreported and will soon be forgotten.

At least it managed to confirm what I always expected - there is no intelligence or cunning plan, Boris Johnson really is just an idiot.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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