Why I’m backing Comrade Giles Fraser’s manifesto*
Giles’ manifesto was published last week as part of an UnHerd series exploring what new parties might look like if the UK, US and other nations – inspired by what Macron has achieved in France and Beppe Grillo has pulled off in Italy – were to dispense with old ideological boundaries and put new offerings in their place.
Admittedly, the headline to this blog overstates the extent of my love-in with Comrade Fraser (see caveat, below) but if it were simply a matter of endorsing his housing policy, I wouldn’t just be voting for his “Home” party, I’d be campaigning 24/7 for it.
“We will lift the cap on local authority borrowing. We will build on the Green Belt. We will introduce a tax on unoccupied properties bought as piggy banks for offshore investors. Long-term unoccupied properties will be repossessed and there will be higher stamp duty on second ‘holiday homes’.”
I’d go even further. I’d do as Comrade Sajid Javid advocated and use billions of extra central government borrowing to put some oomph behind the scale of housebuilding that the crisis in Britain demands.
Liam Halligan recently deployed six graphs in his housing series for UnHerd to illustrate the extent to which millions of Britons are being condemned to combinations of debt, cramped accommodation, long commutes or/and insecurity of residency by the costs of either owning or renting. But there’s another vast cost which is largely unmeasured in official stats and assessments. When young families can’t afford to stay close to their friends and family, they lose the care that otherwise would feed up and down through the generations. This is either not replaced at all, or is inadequately and/or very expensively provided by state and private “care”. In this and so many other ways, this crisis is hitting so many, so hard.
The absence of a majority for any party in the House of Commons should have led to some serious efforts at finding cross-party solutions to urgent problems like this one. If Giles and I can agree, it shouldn’t be impossible for Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn to hammer out some sort of half-ambitious plan. Unlikely, perhaps, but surely not impossible?
* But only his housing policy