Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Hackney candidate faces repossession and other issues

Independent Hackney South and Shoreditch candidate, Denny de la Haye, answers his own selection of Blood and Property questions.

In the piece he reveals that the financial crisis has put his home at risk: "As it happens I'm in danger of having my flat repossessed since I lost my job last year, so I'm painfully aware of the ongoing problems the recession has left us with."

(Denny will not be on the panel of a hustings tonight at Hackney Community College - April 21 - but he will be in the audience.)

Blood and Property: Do you expect communities to be self-interested for
a multicultural system to work?

Denny de la Haye: Quite the opposite... I think the strength of London these days is that it's a cultural melting-pot. You can see this particularly well in school-children, with friendship groups often clearly crossing two or more ethnic groups, and those differences meaning nothing difficult to those young people - they're aware of them, but not troubled by them. I think for our multicultural society to work really well, we need to be aware of and interested in each other's cultures, and maybe take some of the best bits from each of them.

(Incidentally, I was obviously intrigued by Meg's reply that "We have a party system in this country and people will look at what policies work for them". The party system explicitly does not let people vote on policies - it requires you to vote for a party, and buy into their whole
manifesto. My 'direct digital democracy' system will let people really vote on what individual policies work for them!)

Blood and Property: Does it matter if you have large, politically active communities, that do act with a certain level of self interest – or promote issues that affect this community?

Denny de la Haye: I think this is a natural tendency that might have a lot of its negative side taken away if you let people vote 'per policy' instead of having one 'overall' vote. People will be less tempted to clump into clans and more interested in looking at how each individual
policy on its merits. As I said in my last interview with you, if a particular group is very engaged by a particular issue, then they will tend to be well-informed about it and I think that's a great reason to let them make decisions about it. If their position is countered by an opposing group, then you'll see some interesting debate and that will help others form their own opinion.

Blood and Property: How important do you think religion is in terms of understanding Hackney? Is it a big issue or not really?

Denny de la Haye: I'm not religious myself, but as with many other issues of personal belief, this is completely irrelevant to how I'd perform as a direct democracy MP. The fact that my vote on each issue is mandated by the public in an open and transparent way means that my
personal opinions are very secondary when considering me as a candidate. What I'm offering is a choice on each issue as it arises, instead of a single choice of a potentially unrepresentative representative.

Blood and Property: Do you think that Hackney has seen the worst of the
financial crisis?

Denny de la Haye: Quite possibly, yes. I think a recession always bites hardest at the bottom, and Hackney has a lot of people who are struggling financially, including many people living in poverty (defined as having an income lower than 60% of the national average). As it happens I'm in danger of having my flat repossessed since I lost my job last year, so I'm painfully aware of the ongoing problems the recession has left us with. We might be out of the recession in theory, but I don't think many people are feeling that at street level yet - and those
problems are clearly worse the lower your income is and the harder it is for you to find work in the present economic climate.

Blood and Property: Have things got much worse though, since the financial crisis?

Denny de la Haye: They certainly did for me, and I'm pretty sure I had it easy compared to some.

Blood and Property: How seriously do you think Hackney would be affected if a Conservative government came into power?

Denny de la Haye: Well, as Meg observed one of the main employers in Hackney is actually the council. The Tories are aiming to reduce the size of government at all levels if I understand their 'big society' plan correctly, so presumably that's not going to help the ongoing situation with unemployment in this area. As for their other policies, they've mostly been keeping them to themselves for now, so it's hard to say anything clear about them - but generally I'm distrustful of 'yet another political party' at this point, and I think a lot of people
share that feeling.

Let's hope for a hung Parliament, with a healthy number of independents keeping a watch on things without party whips telling them what to do!

Blood and Property: Do you think that in places like Hackney, or Tower Hamlets, that council departments and staff become politicised?

Denny de la Haye: I think that councils tend to have quite a strong in-house culture, but I'm not sure if it's politicised towards the prevailing party so much as a thing in its own right. A couple of the local Labour councillors actually knocked my door before I'd decided to run myself, and asked whether I'd be voting Labour. They didn't seem interested in defending the national party at all, in fact they seemed very aware that the national party was probably hurting their local prospects at this point. I certainly didn't get an impression of a closely-tied local and national Labour party 'machine' from that experience, which I think is a good thing.

Blood and Property: What about crime?

Denny de la Haye: My only experience of being a victim of crime in London was not long after I moved into Hackney - nothing serious, just someone did quite a lot of damage to my car. I went to the police station and they gave me a form and told me to bring it back when I'd filled it in. I asked what else would happen after that and they said 'probably nothing', so I didn't bother. I don't think that experience is particularly unique to Hackney - I suspect that crime figures are falling because of statistical tricks and under-reporting far more than because of an actual reduction in crime. If I'm right that might explain why people's fear of crime isn't falling - people know how safe or unsafe their area is, regardless of how the statistics are doctored
from year to year to show us steady improvement.

As far as I understand it, 'bobbies on the beat' is actually one of the least effective ways of reducing crime levels, so it's only really a publicity win (reduces the fear of crime without reducing crime). It seems a shame that the number of bobbies on the beat has been made into
a measure of success by both Labour and Tories - it seems that they care more about the perception than the reality.

Blood and Property: Do you think it is healthy that so many of the borough's schools are now academies - and whether it matters that these schools are not subject to the freedom of information act?

Denny de la Haye: I wasn't aware that academies were exempt from FoI, that's quite obviously a problem. Any public-funded body (including a great number of quangos) should be subject to FoI legislation.

Commenting on Blood and Property's Jules Pipe interview:

Denny de la Haye: I'll second the comment on his interview about it being very odd for him to claim that the Tories are Labour's main Parliamentary opposition in both Hackney constituencies - that's not what it looks like to me from a quick glance at the last few election results. That said, obviously I hope to present some serious opposition in Hackney South and Shoreditch this time round, given the unique nature of my platform.

NOTE: Denny chose these questions from ones that had already been put to other politicians.

These were
Andrew Boff interview
Meg Hillier Interview
Jules Pipe interview
Diane Abbott interview


  1. In the end I wasn't in the hustings audience, real life got in the way despite it only being up the road from my place. Hopefully someone (you?) will write it up so I can see if anything particularly interesting came up :)

  2. Hi Denny, I'm just writing it up now - it probably won't be very long. It was quite heavy on the further education issues which were a bit detached from Hackney. But it was very well attended, sometimes animated and noisy. But from what I can gather, it sounded like yesterday's event might have been more about Hackney than this one. But I'll try and post something by the morning.