“Whether it can be altered or not, whether it is right or wrong, landlordism is one of the causes of poverty” – Robert Tressell
This morning we got an email from multi-millionaire property owner and celebrity leftist, Russell Brand, about the New Era Housing Estate in Hoxton. A noble cause, no doubt, and you should sign the petition here.
But it felt a bit patronising because Russell acknowledges that everyone else is struggling, though he himself is not. And at the same time a bit annoying because he admits to being one of the causes of the problem in the first place. We’d extend his own analysis of causality by saying that he’s not simply causing problems by being “so cool”, but primarily by being an uber wealthy property owner.
We thought a better solution than a petition – simply asking Richard Benyon not to be mean – would be for Russell to use his vast personal fortune (an estimated £15m) and his celebrity connections to buy up the New Era Estate. Noel Gallagher could chip in a few quid, right?
He could then do one of three things: keep the rents exactly as they are and get approx. £750,000 return per annum; halve rents for all residents and still be earning £375,000 annually on his property portfolio; or establish the New Era Estate as London’s largest housing co-operative and allow the residents to actually take control of their lives.
All three of these options would achieve the stated aims of the petition: the last one would truly be a New Era for collective ownership. The only thing that has ever created change is collective action; the only thing that has ever defeated capital is collective ownership.
So, what’s it to be Russell – ready to put your money where your oh so eloquent mouth is?