'Class War Conservatism': Housing Policy, Homelessness and the 'Underclass'

Joan Smith


Fifteen years of Conservative rule in Britain have born out Ralph Miliband's argument. Since Free Market Conservatism (which Miliband described more accurately as 'Class War Conservatism') captured Parliament and the State, nine 'employment' acts, the abolition of wage councils, and unemployment rates that were the highest in Europe in the 1980s, have crystallised into a low wage economy where workers face ever increasing productivity demands, real wage cuts and worsening conditions. Anti-union legislation, centralised control over local and regional administrations and, most recently, the Criminal Justice Act of 1994 curtailed political opposition, anti-government strikes and demonstrations. Welfare programmes with popular support, such as health and education, had the 'market' introduced into them, and less popular programmes were reduced, means-tested and, in the case of social housing, almost destroyed.

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