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New Labour – Old Tory

Dear Editor,

I would like to add my support to the plight of Mr Leaman, who's treatment at the hands of Exeter City Council is indeed appalling (Letters, May 3rd).

However, your correspondent, Mr Holwill says "Socialism is about levelling up, not levelling down".

Has he not realised yet, that after 10 years of "New Labour" rule, socialism plays no part in this government's manifesto? Indeed, I would go so far as to say that Tony Blair is probably considered by many Tory voters as Margaret Thatcher's greatest acheivement. I've no doubt that many Tories are secretly hoping that Labour will stay in power, as the thin line between Tory and Labour was blurred beyond recognition as soon as they started selling off the family silver to the PFI!

But politics aside, good luck to Mr Leaman. As a fellow resident of Burnthouse Lane, I wish him every success in fighting the council to a fair and just conclusion.


This was a reply/comment on the original letter:
Printed in Express & Echo – 3rd May 2007 as shown below:

Dear Editor,

Readers may be wondering how Exeter man David Leaman is getting on.Mr Leaman, you might remember, is the pensioner threatened with eviction from his Shakespeare Road home – not for wrecking council property, not for nuisance or threatening his neighbours but for losing his mother.

Mr Leaman was his mother's sole carer in the last 14 years of her life but he never complained.

That generation never does. He knew his duty and he did it.

And when his mother passed away, someone so close would have needed a ton of sympathy to ease the gut-wrenching pain and sense of emptiness. Did he get that from his landlords?

The problem is the Philistines on Exeter City Council see a house not as a home filled with the memories of a happy family life but as real estate.

Even as the embers were dying at his mother's funeral service at the crematorium, the city council was plotting to steal Mr Leaman's home away. A more callous act is hard to imagine.

While his mother lived, the Leamans could have taken advantage of the right to buy scheme. They could have applied for joint tenancy. They didn't do that.

I guess they believed they were dealing with fair-minded people, a Labour-run council which wouldn't play politics with people's lives but had the interests of people with limited means at hearts.

Not so. The city council is exploiting a technicality which allows them to tear Mr Leaman away from the home he loves. How can the council justify this? The current spin is downsizing – not very socialist, is it?

Socialism is about levelling up, not levelling down.

Are councillors willing to downsize their ample homes to provide a home for a homeless family? No answer?

Frankly, the idea of a Labour council scuttling around Exeter handing eviction notices to its own tenants is quite obscene.

Is Mr Leaman responsible for Britain's open door policy, the growing army of single mums or the student population swallowing much of Exeter's affordable housing?

Then there's the city council's own mishandling of its housing stock. It incentivises need and need is what it gets.

So is Mr Leaman the bad guy here? Who among us would give up our home for a homeless family? This is what is being demanded of Mr Leaman.

Playing musical chairs is no way to solve our housing problems. We need politicians who can see beyond the horizon.

Mr G R Holwill

Stoke Hill Crescent, Exeter