Monday, August 06, 2007

Escape from Campsfield, but no escape from Capitalism

OUTSIDE Campsfield, bold message. Now protests are inside.

FOLLOWING protests over conditions at the privately-run Campsfield detention centre near Oxford, and a kitchen fire at the weekend, police with helicopters and dogs were hunting down about 26 escaped detainees and by last night had caught twelve of them.

Most of the inmates at Campsfield have committed no crime except to be here but it is being reported that the escapers included previous convicts who had been placed in the camp pending deportation. Last night we saw on TV a proud Middle Englander boasting how he caught one poor escapee pleading for shelter, and when the man then tried to flee over the garden fence pulled him back and detained him for the police. (But there are some people who are not only sympathetic to the plight of the detainees but inclined to help - see e.g.
(NB some information in the above paragraphs has been corrected in the light of better information).

The Campsfield camp is now run by an American-owned company called GEO, which presumably makes a good profit employing low-paid staff to supervise people held in poor conditions and fed cheap food. The great British public seldom hears about the existence of such places unless there is a major riot, or escape, and then not for long. So we are meant to go on believing that Britain is over-run with foreigners pouring in freely to both take our jobs and live off generous benefits, as well as taking our homes. We used to be told about "bogus asylum seekers", then the press dropped the pretence that it welcomed "genuine" cases and "asylum seeker" itself became a term of abuse. What used to be the speciality of papers like the Sun has now been taken up by the BBC, whose objectivity is on a par with the fairness of its prize competitions (currently suspended) .

After all, just because British business makes money exporting weapons to brutal dictatorships, encouraging wars, and collecting debt interest from the impoverished nations, is no reason why Britain should take responsibility for sheltering those victims who make it over here.

Nor are we anti-foreigner. Few question the right of foreign companies like GEO or Sodexho to come in and make money from running parts of the system, any more than we blame the Ford Motor Company say for taking away people's jobs. We don't even mind letting migrants build this country or staff its health services, so long as they don't expect homes or treatment. And though we keep reminding ourselves that this is "only a little island", anyone with enough money is welcome to come over and buy as many homes or anything else they like.

So, bearing in mind that "An Englishman's Home is His Castle", what else is happening in this green unpleasant land? Here's one story that illustrates the kind of problem we needn't think about since it's difficult to find a hapless poor or immigrant scapegoat to blame:

Fears of mortgage debt crisis as UK repossessions hit eight-year high
·Saturday August 4, 2007

The prospect of a mortgage debt crisis loomed yesterday after the number of home repossessions in the UK soared by 30% to an eight-year high as households struggled to keep up with mortgage payments in the face of higher interest rates.

With the Bank of England expected to increase borrowing costs again before the end of the year, analysts warned that repossessions could surge even further.

The first half of this year saw 14,000 properties repossessed, a 30% rise on a year ago, the Council of Mortgage Lenders said. This is the highest level since 1999 and equivalent to about 77 homes a day.

The unexpected jump was blamed on an increase in lending to borrowers with a poor credit history in the so-called "sub-prime" mortgage sector.
Interest rates, which have risen five times in under a year to 5.75%, were also a big driving force in rising debt and missed mortgage payments.
Economists cautioned that the impact of the recent rate increases was yet to be felt and homeowners would not be able to rely on rapid rises in the value of their homes as the housing market cools.

"With the housing market slowing into 2008 and interest rates expected to hit 6%, homeowners slipping behind with their repayments may be left stranded, unable to sell their way out of trouble," said David Stubbs at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Nearly 2 million homeowners will be coming out of fixed-rate mortgage deals in the next 18 months and find themselves having to renegotiate terms with interest rates 1.25 percentage points higher.
The CML said that 125,100 homeowners had mortgage arrears of three months or more, 4% higher than the six months to the end of December, but 3% lower than for the first half of 2006.
The housing charity Shelter criticised irresponsible lending to people who could not afford the repayments.

... experts warned that the fall in insolvencies did not signal the end of a tidal wave of debt that has built up since the turn of the millennium. Insolvencies are still fairly high at about 300 a day.

"Gordon Brown's 10 years as chancellor have left Britain with record personal debt, rising taxes and falling take-home pay," said the Conservative shadow treasury secretary, Philip Hammond. "No wonder he couldn't wait to get out of No 11."
For full report see:,,2141337,00.html

Ignoring the fact that similar news of debt and repossessions came in the past year from Ireland and the United States (and most media did ignore it), we can smile at the Tories' trying to rely on short memories. Last time I remember record numbers of people losing their homes to debt was in the days when Mrs.T was at No.10.

At least it fulfilled her Churchillian dream.
Never had so many owed so much to so few, as the old man said.
It might not have been what he had in mind. But now its coming true again.

Just to add to the picture:
Average English house price will top £300,000 in five years, says study
· More parents will have to pay children's mortgages· 40% rise to bring more grief for first-time buyers

Monday August 6, 2007

The average house price in England will rise by 40% in five years to break the £300,000 barrier, according to research published today by the National Housing Federation.
It said the boom might provide short-term reassurance for homeowners, who would profit from the increase, but warned that the rise "carried a sting in its tail" as a growing number of parents would face paying their children's mortgages. The federation, which represents 1,300 housing associations, also said that a generation of first-time buyers would have their aspirations dashed or be able to buy a home only at "enormous personal and financial cost".
Home Truths, which was researched by Oxford Economics, described the current housing market as "distorted and dysfunctional" with the average house price nearly 11 times the average salary and more than 4 million people on waiting lists for social housing.

The independently owned group, which provides quantitative analysis and public policy advice, argues in the report that the increase in buy-to-let and second homes is "undoubtedly contributing to the overvaluation of housing".
In response to the housing crisis, the government published a green paper last month in which it announced plans to build 3m homes by 2020, with up to 70,000 new units a year being social homes for key workers and low-income families. David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: "Our report shows that continuing house price rises and the resulting housing crisis are set to stay with us for a long time. While Gordon Brown's pronouncements on house building indicate a step in the right direction, it is imperative that ministers turn their words into deeds and deliver on their promises.

Regions hit hard by rocketing projections are the south-east, where the average house price will be £392,900 compared with £247,762 now, and the east, where the average house price will be £340,200 compared with £211,880 now.
The report says there are only seven areas in England where the cheapest homes cost less than four times average local earnings - Barrow, Burnley, Hartlepool, Hull, Pendle, Stoke-on-Trent and Wansbeck. The report's forecasts show that in London, the average house price will be £478,300 against £318,864 now.

Mr Orr said that City bonuses and foreign investment meant that swaths of the capital's housing market were becoming decoupled from the rest of the country. "Bonuses in the first quarter of 2007 were up nearly 24% on a year earlier and have increased nearly threefold since 2003. Some are being used to buy luxury homes or to invest in property."

Some foreign investors buy property, mainly in London, for letting purposes rather than as a main residence. According to London Development Research, two-thirds of all new homes built in the capital are being bought by investors. Mr Orr said London was particularly attractive to buyers from France, Italy, Russia and Saudi Arabia. Wealthy investors were driving price inflation for million-pound houses to more than 30% and the highest rate in nearly 30 years. "Ministers must ensure there is strong investment in social housing for people on lower incomes in the London region. Up to 700,000 people in the capital are on waiting lists for social housing."

See for full story:,,2142387,00.html

I like the idea of parents paying their youngster's mortgages. With students falling into debt before they leave college, then told to start saving for pensions the moment they start work, it is another burden in between. But who will pay the mortgages for the next lot of sprogs?

I suppose we can blame one type of foreigner for some of this - the wealthy Saudis and Russians etc. coming here to invest their ill-gotten gains. But nobody does. And it won't get us very far.

Again, there's the irony of those City fat cats who are rewarded by their companies that have done so well out of the dire situation they have created, and with their big bonuses are able to make the situation worse. But steady on. Next thing you know we'll be saying it's capitalism that is to blame. And I don't want people calling me an ultra-Left.

Labels: , ,


At 6:02 PM, Blogger Muraleedharan said...

Dear Mr Pottins,
Gone through the blog. Excellent. I shall be highly appreciated if you could go through our web edition published by The Independent Media Of India.
Is it possible for you to contribute articles on any subject of your choice for our weekly from your region?
Please let me know by email at:
MuraleeDharan Raghavan
Senior Editor


Post a Comment

<< Home