Fly-on-the-Wall Class War
Just occasionally, I regret not having a TV, and most recently I have regretted it because of The Tower, one episode of which I caught this week. This documentary series is set just up the road from my former locale in Deptford, and essentially catalogues an act of straightforward class warfare dressed up as Regeneration – the carving up of the Pepys Estate for the benefit of the stockbroking contingent, most glaring in the recladding and extending of one of its three towers, swiftly rebranded as the luxurious Aragon Tower. The incomers and the council tenants are profiled week-by-week, with only occasional interjections or juxtapostions of a conciliatory nature (eg, a family from each gets married, which is shown parallel to prove that we’re all the same, really) to dress up an unequivocally grotesque spectacle.
I wrote about the Pepys Estate a while ago here, and its chopping up for the benefit of developers, sharks and bankers is startlingly mendacious, even by New Labour Council standards. One of the key phrases of this is of course the creation of ‘mixed class’ areas: which, if not thought about too closely, sounds a wonderful idea: after all, no-one wants to create ghettos, etc – but the upshot is always poor areas being encroached upon by the rich, not the other way around (as opposed to Estates being built in affluent areas, which was once not an uncommon occurrence). As someone points out in The London Particular, the idea only really makes sense if we move into their areas: one block of luxury flats in Deptford in exchange for one council tower block in the heart of Hampstead would be the only fair approach. Quite how far we’ve sunk can be ascertained by the fuss made by the fact that Gordon Brown is said to be considering decriminalising council house building, a measure that would make him approximately as leftwing as Stanley Baldwin: and even that seems like a surprising move in the current climate.