UK: Is Mike Weatherley Dead Yet (a brief interview)

Some stories enrage you because there shouldn’t have to be anything more to say: no National Debate or serious frowny faces on Question Time. The HIV-positive asylum seeker and her 10-month-old child who starved to death in a Westminster flat last March. The teenager who set himself on fire in a council office in December after they refused to find him a home.

And now there’s 35-year-old homeless man Daniel Gauntlett, who died of hypothermia in Aylesford last week on the porch of an empty bungalow that he could not enter without facing arrest and a criminal record.

You can read the Kent Messenger’s original story by Chris Hunter here — but spreading equally quickly through Twitter, Facebook and the like is the savage fury of Is Mike Weatherley Dead Yet?, an anonymous website launched within days of the report that directly links Gauntlett’s death to the legislation authored by Tory MP Mike Weatherley and passed into law last year that criminalised any act of squatting in a residential property, derelict or not.

Weatherley himself has so far refused my requests for a response. But having made contact with the site’s creator, who wishes to remain unnamed, I asked them what few questions I could think of that weren’t utterly facetious in the face of such suffering.

Let’s start with the Daily Mail question – is it a death threat?

We will one day: me, you, Mike Weatherley, all of us. That’s just a fact of life. Some of us will die much earlier, in conditions we would consider terrible and unacceptable for [the] so-called ‘developed world.’

[The] situation of homeless people is already desperate. Mike Weatherley is personally responsible for making it worse. I hope he remembers that every time he tries to go to sleep.

Apart from the perversity of Daniel Gauntlett’s death, was there anything else that spurred you to act? Have you or someone you’ve known ever experienced homelessness or rough sleeping?

I am lucky to have ever had a safe roof over my head and I wish to live in a world where everybody had that. It takes a lot of privilege or wilful blindness not to realize how many people don’t have housing security, even if they are may not be ‘officially’ considered homeless.

I go to a local park regularly, there’s a kid who’s there every weekend form sunrise to sunset. I don’t know what’s going in his life, but obviously he finds the park a better place to be than his home. Around Christmas last yeear, when there was a wave of cold, a homeless man tried to commit suicide there. He was rescued but I heard from someone working at the hospital that it was not his first attempt. If you go to a train station at night, there are people walking up and down the escalators all night because they have nowhere else to go. The most basic humanity demands of us that we empathise with those who are not as lucky or less well-off than we are.

What would you say to Weatherley, Ken Clarke and the Coalition in general if they were reading this?

As much as I despise the Tory party and what they are doing with regards to welfare and housing, they are continuing the work Labour has been doing to make housing unaffordable and inaccessible for poor and working class people, in order to serve the interest of financial industry and property owners. The whole political class are utter scum [and] are deservedly hated.