Now then, now then, Dear political parties, can you fix it for me…?

Bad taste? Do you seriously think that our political elite are less culpable in wilful atrocity, profited from and covered up than a ghastly, pantomime-villain paedophile? I envy you the expanses of your soul unstained by dark cynicism.

Oh well, on with the diatribe.

I had the chance to chat briefly about housing policy this afternoon with someone who had been interviewing people for Shelter, an organisation I cannot commend to you enough. Apparently, some of the interviewees viewed the housing crisis (and, in the unlikely event that any evil, moustache-twirling, poorhouse-consigning private landlords are reading this, there is one, you know…) as an intractable problem.

Employing my parents’ oft-quoted maxim that “If you don’t try, you’ll never know if you can do it”, there are some ideas that, in a just world, I’d like to see tried.

Firstly – rent control. Apparently, most of the country are for it. Not private landlords and neoliberal profiteers, of course. For balance, we’ll include these two rebuttals from the Torygraph. For once, it’s worth a gander at the comments[1]. The idea of rent control is to stop things happening like the recent scandal in Bristol, where estate agents have been accused of inflating the market. What, estate agents? Unscrupulous? I know. Sit yourself down and have a stiff drink, the shock will abate.

Secondly, let’s have a law to stop developers sitting on properties simply waiting for prices to rise. A “use it or lose it” law that says that you either develop a site within a set time of buying it, the government buys it at a set (low) rate, or it is turned over to free use by charities and socially responsible enterprise for five years.

Thirdly, keep penalising second home ownership. Steady on, you say, my parents worked hard for their holiday home on the Cornish coast. If they can afford a house, they can afford a B&B three times a year. There’s no reason that working hard should entitle you to price people in one of the most economically depressed parts of the country out of a home.

I’m sure there are other things that you could do, like a progressive tax on land ownership, to drive down the price of property and land. The point is that falling property prices hurt no one but the wealthy and it’s not real pain, not the pain of going to bed hungry, or not being able to heat your house. It’s the pain of not putting in a swimming pool. Boo hoo. If all houses go down in value, then you can still afford another one if you sell yours. You can still downsize and enjoy the profits.

Here comes the inevitable Green Party plug. It’s the only party with a real agenda for social justice. I don’t think they’re the right political party to lead the country for the foreseeable future either. I want them in as many seats as possible this time so that people see that politics can change. I’d like to see them get a shot at power in the election after this one. And then I want to vote them out because there’s an even better party, with even better, fairer, more progressive policies about reforming money, democracy and our whole society on a sound, considered, philosophical basis.

In the mean time, I’d like to see measures taken so that the professionals teaching our nation’s youth don’t have to live in bunkhouses like Victorian navvies.

Can you fix it for me, Natalie? Ed? Dave? God help us, Jim?


[1] seriously, when you’re too much of a greedy opportunist for Telegraph readers

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