Tory MPs and Think Tanks Pan May Announcements

Conference has barely begun and Tory MPs and right-leaning think tanks and pundits are already kicking off about Theresa May’s announcements on tuition fees and Help to Buy.

Kate Andrews of the Institute of Economic Affairs:

“The Prime Minister is right to address the plights of young people leading up to Conservative Party Conference, but pledging over £10billion worth of uncosted policies will only burden them more down the road, as they face an increasing national debt and – inevitably – higher taxes. While May plans to temporarily put a bit more cash back in the pockets of young graduates, the party must acknowledge that the current university funding system – and lack of competition within it – needs a complete overhaul if student debt is to be tackled. Propping up the Help to Buy scheme only distorts the housing market more, which is already in a perpetual state of crisis. If May is serious about getting young people on the housing ladder, the answer is clear: liberalise the housing market and build more homes.”

Sam Bowman of the Adam Smith Institute:

“Reviving Help to Buy is like throwing petrol onto a bonfire. The property market is totally dysfunctional because supply is so tightly constrained by planning rules, and adding more demand without improving the supply of houses is just going to raise house prices and make homes more unaffordable for people who don’t qualify for the Help to Buy subsidy… Reviving Help to Buy is an astonishingly ill-judged move that may prove economically and politically disastrous for the government.”

The view from ConHome and Unherd:

MPs Guido has spoken to are wondering why May has chosen to engage on Corbyn’s territory with policies that are just Labour-lite. Colleagues are asking why there are no ambitious announcements on house-building and student debt rather than this damp squib. Not to mention the £12 billion of unfunded spending. A lot of work to do on policy over the next few days…

UPDATE: The government’s side of the story articulated well by James Cleverly:

Owen Jones Gets Owned Over Venezuela

Kate Andrews schooled Chavista Cheerleader-in-Chief Owen Jones last night on Sky. He came close to losing his rag – again…

Incidentally Owen did not tell the truth about the other socialst Latin American regimes; Uruguay, Bolivia and Ecuador have had falling GDP per capita for the last 2 years, they’re all getting poorer under socialism. Ow-end…

Minister Slammed Letting Fees Ban Just 8 Weeks Ago

The big Autumn statement announcement pre-briefed to today’s papers is that the government is banning letting fees. This is yet another u-turn by Theresa May – just 8 weeks ago her housing minister Gavin Barwell publicly dismissed the proposal as a “bad idea”. Such a bad idea that May herself voted against it in 2014, and the Tories voted the same policy down again in 2013. Kate Andrews from the Institute for Economic Affairs says:

“The Chancellor can come in and not have to commit any of his own spending to do something that seems like it’s trying to help those who are just managing. But of course this is him skirting around the issue of the housing crisis altogether… Politicians will implement the dumbest policies to avoid actually addressing the issue.”

As the National Landlords Association explains, tenants will still foot the bill:

“Philip Hammond lacks any understanding of how the sector works. Agents will have no other option than to shift the fees on to landlords, but adding to landlords’ costs will only push more towards increasing rents.”

Yet another Miliband policy gimmick pinched from Labour’s 2015 manifesto. The politics make sense, the papers have written it up kindly, but even the minister knows the policy is a dud.

UPDATE: Barwell speaks:

“It is the nature of the job that you have to defend current policy even when you’re working to change it.”

Wonk Watch: Kate Andrews From ASI to IEA

The wonk world transfer window is open and Guido hears the Institute of Economic Affairs are about to make a show-stopping signing. Readers will recognise 25 year-old Kate Andrews from her regular crusades for the cause of freedom on Sky News, which have made her something of a wunderkind of the right. A Texan Newcastle United supporter, Kate is moving from the Adam Smith Institute to the IEA next month to work on their digital content, “unless she is flagged up as a national security risk” by the immigration authorities. The IEA bolstered its ranks before Christmas by taking on Nissy Chesterfield from Business for Britain to do comms. The merry-go-round begins…



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Quote of the Day

Tory MP Nick Boles says what everyone thinks…

“There is a timidity and lack of ambition about Mrs May’s Government which means it constantly disappoints. Time to raise your game, Prime Minister.”

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