£50m is not a trivial amount, it is the amount taxpayers spend on free milk in schools. Winston Churchill once said
“There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies.”
It doesn’t make political sense to cut this expenditure, it will evoke “Maggie Thatcher, Milk Snatcher” memories. As keen on deficit cutting as Guido is, and at the risk of being expelled from membership of the Taxpayers Alliance, this seems too full of potent symbolism to be given a priority. Mike Smithson suspects it is a ruse, only floated to be given up as a public concession to LibDems who are getting squeamish at the sight of blood from the coming cuts.
If it is, it is too clever by half…
Andy Mayer over at the Orange Booker stronghold that is Liberal Vision doesn’t mince his words, writing today that “Simon Hughes is wrong on right to buy“. Mayer reminds us that before Margaret Thatcher liberated a million working class families by putting them onto the property ladder with her populist “Right to Buy” policies in the 1980s, it was a Liberal Party policy going back to the 1950 manifesto:
“The main plan is, first to get people decent living conditions and then to give them the chance to become owner-occupiers, even in Council houses and flats.”
Simon Hughes’s Southwark constituency is itself a victim of public-private apartheid in housing, there are a few private luxury developments and the most council estate housing in the country. State-sector housing should not be ever more concentrated by expansion, instead mixed communities with affordable housing, ex-council houses and private owner occupied homes alongside would prevent ghettoes developing.
As people get on and get older it is natural that they will sell their inner-city, ex-council owned home to somebody starting out on the property ladder and probably buy something in the suburbs before, they may hope, retiring to a smaller bungalow in the country. That boring, mundane progression is the heartfelt ambition of millions of ordinary people.
To deny people the ‘right to buy’, or as some councils do now, deliberately price people out of buying by offering minimal discounts of as little as 5%, is illiberal and crushes the ambitions of so many to get on in life. Owning your own home is great thing, it changes your whole outlook on life and strengthens society. Hughes is wrong to condemn people to being permanently imprisoned in the state sector.
Greetings from the beach. It seems more like silent season than silly season, it has all gone very quiet. Random blog stat – the average reader spends 2 minutes and 11 seconds on the blog. Anyway if you were not one of the 54,333 visitors viewing 245,185 pages over the last seven days, here are the seven most popular stories (in order of popularity) that you missed:
- Hughes’s Ego Explodes
- The Danish Domiciled Dodger
- The Candidate To Beat
- Big Society Watches Your Drinking
- Crash and Burnham
- All Must Have Prizes
- How to Judge the Coalition in 2015 : Did they Fix Society?
You’re either in front of Guido, or you are behind…
The Sunlight Centre for Open Politics has been sniffing around Chris Huhne’s election expenses and despite asking very nicely, they are not getting any reply from him. Now Guido knows the multi-millionaire gold-mining, horizontal jogging Secretary of State for Energy and the Environment has other things on his mind, but it appears there are some serious questions involving some interesting invoicing practices, possibly designed to hide the true cost of printing.
You can read some of the background to the Sunlight Centre’s investigation here, but essentially the invoices for Huhne’s leaflets are from the “Itchen Valley Printing Society”, who mysteriously share his constituency office. The produced material however was in reality printed by Park Communications Limited. Park is an interesting organisation that is very, very close to the Liberal Democrats – their chief exec hosts events with the head of the LibDem campaigns department. Through various holding accounts, the money it makes from a host of LibDem candidates ends up offshore in Guernsey.
Perhaps if Chris Huhne could find a moment over the weekend he might want to clear this little matter up. Or maybe he would like to go on Channel4 News and chat about it with Jon Snow…
Dizzy raises a valid point that despite the legislative process being in full swing, the offices allocated and the newbies all sworn in and jetted off for the summer, there is still no Register of Members’ Interests. How hard can it be to get them to fill out a form? Actually…
Last week Guido was trying to get hold of an updated list of Parliamentary assistants, researchers and other assorted pass-holders. He put in a call, and after going through four different people who sounded like they were scratching their heads, he was told such a list wouldn’t be compiled until the end of August. Why? The police and pass office have background checked all pass-holders and will have their own list. Why can’t this be published?
Until recently Ed Miliband was only really known as the over-enthusiastic Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. One of his first moves was to push through the Climate Change Act, mandating a cut in UK Carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. As MP’s dutifully filed through the ‘aye’ lobby they were lacking one key fact: how much would it all cost? Despite the best efforts of several backbench Tories there is yet to be a definitive answer.
Alex Salmond, spotting a chance to claim a policy as his own, responded by announcing the Climate Change (Scotland) Act. The only difference was a small increase in the intermediate target.
At least the Scots had the decency to, belatedly, estimate the cost of this misguided policy. Their figure? £8billion of central funding over the next ten years – just to cut emissions in the public sector. That’s without considering the economic effect on private businesses struggling to meet unrealistic targets. If that’s the cost to a country of 5 million people, shouldn’t someone point out that UK plc is looking at a bill of almost £100 billion in the next decade…