Senior Tories slam partys shameful anti-housing policy at cross-party rally

Senior Tory MPs this evening (October 24) slammed their own Government for standing against house building, and warned of dire electoral consequences if Rishi Sunak doesn’t pick up the gauntlet thrown down by Sir Keir Starmer.

The event, hosted at the free market thinktank, the Adam Smith Institute, and organised by campaign group Priced Out, featured a cross-party panel including activists from Labour, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats.

The central Westminster rally saw former Housing Secretary Brandon Lewis say he’s “embarrassed” by the Tory party’s anti-housing stance of recent years.

Mr Lewis said there’s an essential role for MPs from all sides, but especially within the Conservative Party, to talk about the housing crisis.

“We need to talk about it, we need to be very clear that we as politicians – not any particular party, but all of us – and certainly I’m embarrassed by the fact that we in the Conservative Party have stepped away from where I thought we were moving – certainly up to 2016/17 – about delivering more houses.

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“It was key; it’s key for our economy because so much of our economy links to housing; GDP for our country has got a pretty clear trend of following the housing sector; and it’s key morally and ethically as well because we’ve got to make sure we’re providing houses for people in the next generations.”

Former Tory Secretary of State for Housing and Local Government Sir Simon Clarke blasted his party’s recent campaign in the Mid Bedfordshire by-election, which centred around anti-housing messaging and saw the Tories lose a 25,000 majority.

Sir Simon said he fully accepts that the Conservatives have to “reclaim our mantle as the party of homeownership”.

“Mid Bedfordshire needs to mark a line in the sand moment for a failed policy that is undesirable and unsustainable.

“And it’s not the first time the tactic has been tried – essentially we adopted the same message in Selby and Ainsty earlier this year with much the same result, and it must therefore be the last time that this policy is adopted.”

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He cited the party’s long history of backing home ownership, from Noel Skelton to Harold Macmillan to Margaret Thatcher, and said “it is shameful that we have come to such a place today as what we saw in Mid Bedfordshire”.

Sir Simon cited statistics showing that the last time house prices were this expensive relative to earnings was 1876 – the same year Queen Victoria became Empress of India.

“We are in an economic paradigm that would have been more familiar to Disraeli than to Macmillan.”

The Tory big beasts were joined by Labour frontbencher, and self-proclaimed ‘YIMBY’ Andrew Western, who joked that he would overlook making digs about 13 years of failed Conservative Policy failure given Sir Simon Clarke had covered that for him.

Mr Western said the Price Out manifesto, which offers up a number of policy reforms politicians could make to solve the housing crisis, is an “important contribution”, and voiced his support of Sir Keir Starmer’s recent pro-housing policy platform.

“You will have heard what Keir said at conference; the focus on what he is labelling the ‘Greybelt’ – as somebody with the scars on my back for supporting the development of a former Shell oil site in my constituency that is in the greenbelt, I know how difficult an argument it is to make.

“Beautiful it is not, sh*thole much of it is!”

He cited that his parents bought a three bed semi-detached when his mother was six months pregnant for three times his dad’s annual firefighter salary.

That same house, he reported, is now worth 13 times a firefighter’s salary.

“What chance have young people got to get on the housing ladder? Meanwhile they’re stuck paying exorbitant rent and unable to save for a deposit… the climate is devastating for so many young people.”

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