Those wondering why Conservative backbenchers so often find themselves opposing pro-growth policies may well be in luck. In a recent Substack post, Professor Ben Ansell has run an MRP model to find levels of housebuilding support, which can then be mapped by constituency. In news that might only surprise Liz Truss, the main strongholds of the anti-growth coalition are the Conservative shires. Co-conspirators can see for themselves on this map, where housebuilding support is represented by constituency size.
Housebuilding support is concentrated in cities, Scotland and the red-wall – all the areas currently voting Labour. Ansell’s research also includes a warning for pro-growth Conservatives. Amongst voters currently not intending to vote at the next election, house support is far more alike to Conservatives – i.e. the swing voters most in reach for the Conservatives are NIMBYs.
The NIMBYist seats in the country, in order of support for house building are:
The most YIMBY Tory seat is Kensington, occupied by Felicity Buchan, which has 53.2% support for housebuilding. Meanwhile, Dianne Abbott holds that honour for Labour – the most YIMBY seat in the country with 66%. Guido is counting on them to lead the charge for growth…
A former Boris SpAd, an ex-ASI wonk and a popular SW1 policy bod have joined forces to launch a new campaign to push for policies that will boost growth. The new group, Britain Remade, has correctly diagnosed the problem of Britain’s inability to get any infrastructure whatsoever built, and the country’s decline is a result of NIMBYish choices made to appease organised special interests. Preaching to the choir lads…
The triumvirate of YIMBYs is being spearheaded by Sam Richards, who for three years appeared on Guido’s SpAd list as the environment and DEFRA advisor in the No. 10 policy unit. Launching the group, he cited onshore wind and solar farms, which are not just good for the UK’s energy security but have majority support, despite partisan opposition from Rishi and Liz over the summer.
“We used to be a country that used our expertise in science and engineering to build things. Britain built the first railway, coal-fired power station and commercial nuclear power station.
We believe Britain can do it again. But it means building a movement large enough to ensure Westminster, and other decision makers, hear the voices of those who support pro-growth politicies like building new clean energy, new homes, and new railways.”
Hopefully it’s full steam ahead from here on out…
NIMBYs from the Surrey-based Wisley Action Group somehow managed to smuggle themselves into the conference secure zone last night to deafen councillors sipping cocktails and whine about housebuilding. Captured on video by a co-conspirator, the group arrived at the Cratus Communications drinks reception, megaphones in hand, to yell about ongoing housing developments in Wisley… even though not a single member of the government was present. Apparently the noisy protester with the megaphone was held outside by police for a while afterwards…
We have now reached what might be the zenith of Green Party NIMBY-ism. They’ve opposed HS2; they’ve opposed Sizewell C; they’ve even opposed building solar panel farms. Now a Green Party councillor in Norwich has opposed plans for a vegan restaurant… on the grounds that it “will increase footfall and is inappropriate.” Through the looking glass…
The councillor, Ash Haynes, is objecting to Erpingham House’s plans to serve alcohol until 2 am and to host live music even though the premises is already open until 2am anyway, and police have made it clear they have no issue with it. The restaurant themselves have released a statement pointing out they’re not exactly a nightclub:
“The application is for exactly the same hours that the business has always had. In almost five years since opening we have not received a single complaint about noise or otherwise. We are a plant-based restaurant that occasionally hosts events, not a nightclub. It was an administrative error that saw our license not be renewed in the necessary time period.”
Lucy Powell took to undermining Labour’s housing offering on Politics Live this afternoon, complaining the government has built too many in her constituency in recent years:
“Manchester’s a very beautiful place, a nice place to live, and over the 10-15 year period, the last few years and the forthcoming few years, there’ll be 50,000 new homes in my constituency alone, so that brings with it other challenges as well…”
This is a bizarre NIMBY criticism from Powell, especially given she was just appointed as Labour’s shadow housing secretary in Sunday’s reshuffle. Is this the Labour Party’s new attitude to house building?
Has Lucy Powell quietly become the most gaffe-prone member of the shadow cabinet? The morning after the local elections she inadvertently praised the government’s election offering; she undermined Starmer’s ventilator point-scoring; and in December she was caught on camera saying deciding if Labour wants Britain to succeed or fail is a “challenge”. She’s starting to make Richard Burgon look like a canny political operator…
The abandoning of the algorithm that would have encouraged development where people wanted to live – which is most often in Tory home county constituencies in the South East – signals a reversion to Tory instincts: to block new developments in their leafy idylls. Post-Cummings, the self-interest of Tory MPs with NIMBY constituents has reasserted itself at the expense of younger, future Tory voters looking for somewhere affordable to live. There is nothing more certain to change a Labour voter into a Tory voter than owning a home and starting a family. It is in the long-term interest of the country that property-ownership is widely dispersed, even if it is at the expense of short-term electoral considerations.
So it is disappointing to learn that Boris wrote to oppose the development of 500 homes on a brown-field site on the old Master Brewer site in his Uxbridge & South Ruislip constituency. Robert Jenrick overrode a ruling by the GLA permitting it to go ahead.
Stephen Wicks, the developer, was left fuming:
“The hypocrisy of all this is that Boris is on one hand saying ‘build, build, build’ but on the other hand he’s quietly nobbling councillors behind the scene… It’s difficult to demonstrate it but I’m pretty certain Boris will have had a word with Robert Jenrick and said ‘Look, this one’s a bit difficult for me, the locals don’t like it, so can you just quietly issue a holding order’.”
Jenrick will deny it, yet the blocking of residential developments in Tory constituencies is far too common.