Marc Stears, Professor of Political Theory and Fellow of University College, Oxford, is not merely an old university friend of the Labour leader, he is one of Ed’s closest advisers and his chief speech-writer. More importantly he is the co-author of the Labour manifesto.
In 2012 Stears wrote approvingly in the New Statesman about an IPPR report calling on the left to favour letting housing association tenants have a right-to-buy:
The stable patterns of social interaction that are associated with communities of ownership are preconditions for the kind of social reciprocity that the left champions, as well as the more conservative disposition that is more usually commented upon. There is, in other words, a social argument for ownership…
An argument being made by the author of the Labour Party manifesto, for a policy appearing in Conservative Party Manifesto…
Last night however the knee-jerk Labour twitterati collectively lost it when they heard of the Conservative manifesto commitment to introduce a right-to-buy for housing association tenants. Atul Hatwal, editor of Labour Uncut, was a lone Labour voice of sanity:
Labour Twitter tonight, at it again, self-harming, this time on right to buy. Yes, more build needed, but for many RTB is abt aspiration
— Atul Hatwal (@atulh) April 13, 2015
It could have been so different, the policy could have been a Labour manifesto commitment if only they had taken up the recommendation from the Labour aligned IPPR think-tank:
The report recommended:
Extending the rights to buy, acquire and manage to all housing association homes, levelling the playing field in terms of opportunities for ownership and control in social housing…
… there are currently over a million housing association properties which cannot be bought by their tenants through the right to buy or right to acquire (Davis and Field 2012), and the right to manage does not apply to housing association homes. Notwithstanding the legal, logistical and administrative challenges entailed, the rights to buy and acquire (with the discount rate sensibly capped) and the right to manage should be extended to all housing association homes
The authors were not wild-eyed wonks, they were Andy Hull and Graeme Cooke. Hull is a councillor in Islington and the Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance and since leaving IPPR now works for Owen Jones’ left-wing Class think tank. Cooke used to be a SpAd when Labour were in government and still works for IPPR (helping to write the Condition of Britain report which inspired a lot of the Labour manifesto).
Labour tweeters attacking the Tories for putting this policy in their manifesto should know that comrades Hull and Cooke recommended this policy as a way to improve housing. Alan Milburn and Frank Field also called for the right-to-buy years ago. No doubt the Labour twitterati will say these are all irredeemable Blairites (they’re not), therefore apostate. Marc Stears however is Ed Miliband’s left-hand man and he too supports the right-to-buy for housing association tenants.