Yesterday saw the latest lecture in Progress’ lecture series ‘New thinking for Britain’s next decade’ given by Rt Hon John Healey MP, minister of state for housing and planning.
John Healey stated that in order to see our way forward we must first look at our present position. He went on to say that the Labour party is in a difficult position to go on to a fourth term, saying that being in your third term puts the government in a difficult place having been in government just long enough so that all the mistakes made are remembered, but not long enough for all the benefits to be shown. He also stated that the media cycle was against the party, claiming that many media sources have already decided the outcome in their own minds and written off the Labour party, in his view too early. However he argued that whilst the odds are against us, Labour has won against the odds before.
The housing minister spoke of how the Labour party has always and will always be the party of Britain’s low earners and will continue to be that party. However, we cannot just be that party. John Healey stated that the party must reiterate our commitment to middle Britain. The former local government minister stated that in recent years the media has focused on the metropolitan middle class, those with a combined income of £88,000+, and that we should not be fooled by this. We should focus on the real middle Britain - the 7 million median earners in the UK as they were the ones who have been truly affected by the recession - those who have an annual income of less than £19,000 pa and those with a combined household income of less than £25,000.
For the full speech click here.
John Healey in response to a question on what the Labour government could do to alleviate spiraling house prices, said the answer was simple - we need to build more homes, and more affordable homes. He explained that in 2007 there were over 107,000 new homes built in Britain in conjunction with private contractors and land developers and that the government needs to continue to work with the private industry to build more affordable homes. He believes that this is the way in which the government can help in alleviating spiraling house prices and therefore allow more of median Britain to get their foot on the ladder. To do this he said we must not be afraid of using public money to assist in building.
Private renting is something which is becoming more and more common in Britain, and the housing minister talked in his speech about making this a more attractive option. The housing minister explained that the government will be introducing more legislation to improve the rights of tenants, as well as introducing the respect kite mark standard which increases the standards for landlords and increases the rights of landlords on dealing with antisocial behavior of their tenants. John Healey also stated that the government is very keen on improving the standards of private rented accommodation and the rights of tenants.
In summary John Healey’s speech focused on the fact that in order for Labour to exceed the expectations of the media and to defeat this underdog status that the Labour party has been awarded in recent times the party needs to show its commitment not to middle Britain but to median Britain, and use this ideological cycle to our advantage.