Number of rough sleepers in London make it feel like the Blitz – Kenny MacAskill

A homeless man on a street in central London after one of the coldest nights so far this winter (Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A homeless man on a street in central London after one of the coldest nights so far this winter (Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
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The amount of people sleepings on the streets in London is now truly staggering and an indictment of modern Britain, writes Kenny MacAskill.

I first visited London when my brother went to work there in the early 1970s. Walking about I remember seeing a few tramps and often they were Scots. They had discovered that the streets of London weren’t paved with gold and many had an alcohol problem. Centrepoint had opened and steps were being taken to tackle the issue of young homeless who were joining them on the streets.

It marked me and was partly why I always sought to support efforts to replicate the Irish government who would seek to bring their people home, especially at Christmas.

READ MORE: More than 12,000 children in Scotland homeless at Christmas

READ MORE: 45 homeless people died in Glasgow last year, according to official stats

Of course, homelessness now afflicts Edinburgh and other Scottish towns and cities in seemingly ever-increasing numbers. In Washington DC, just yards from the White House, I was appalled, a few years back, to see poor folk huddling over subway vents trying to keep warm. Yet the situation in London is now truly staggering. According to Shelter, 170,000 people in London had no home last year and it’s visible amongst all the pomp and splendour.

Just walking to parliament took me past many and every street in central London seems to have young and old, and not just those with alcohol or other issues.

Leaving the building one evening I took the exit that leads directly to the Tube station.

People were settling down with their worldly belongings in a place that was warm and safe. But this isn’t the Blitz, but Christmas 2019. What an indictment of our society and especially Boris’s bold New Britain.