This sinister new form of gentrification welcomes buy-to-let investors and young professionals but squeezes out the poor

Urban regeneration” had for years been the default wide-spectrum term for the demolition and rebuilding of clapped-out, post-industrial areas. Often it required private finance, so a masterplan would be jointly worked up by municipal herbivores from the planning department and suave carnivores with cruel smiles and business offices in Jersey. But the most enthusiastic champion of PFI wasn’t a Tory at all, but Labour’s John Prescott. For younger readers: Prescott was a Blairite mascot, deputy party leader, who reassured old Labour types. They wrongly assumed, because he looked and spoke like a pissed dustman, that he was keeping the socialist pilot light on.

One of Prescott’s projects was the Pathfinder initiative, a scheme to improve neighbourhoods in northern towns by demolishing acres of sound terraced homes and replacing them with investor-readable housing. The subtext was “build posh-looking, high-quality houses and you’ll attract posh-looking high-quality people. What do you mean, where will the residents of the terraced housing go? We don’t know.

Now there’s not even the pretence that new housing is for the poor. Or that the government, having zipped every local authority into gimp suits, gives a flying toss what they think about anything. Social cleansing is under way in our major cities, and the poor are being systematically criminalised by that compassionate Conservative and enemy of the food banks, Iain Duncan Smith. What a monstrous creature he is. Austere, friendless, nasty. Our very own Montgomery Burns. I imagine him in his office, a grandfather clock ticking in the corner, a needlepoint motto on the wall: Poverty is Theft.

The reality ship the poor off to  the outskirts of little Hulton and bring in your standard  middle class Audi driver,the sad reality where do all the disenfranchised go in Labours Mecca. 


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