Labour hypocrisy alive and well in Islington

Islington South & Finsbury Labour MP Emily Thornberry – who was just 484 votes ahead of the Lib Dems’ Bridget Fox at the last General Election – is used to being in the papers talking about the need for action on affordable housing.

Islington is one of many London boroughs where the rise in property prices combined with decades of ‘right to buy’ and ‘buy to rent’ has priced swathes of people out of being able to buy or even rent a home. Islington has an estimated 13,000 households on the housing waiting list and Ms Thornberry has not been slow to exploit their situation for votes.

Now she’s been exposed taking a rather different kind of action to that expected by her constituents.

Ms Thornberry’s husband snapped up a period house being sold at auction by a local housing association, did it up and rented it out to young professionals – to the dismay of the former tenants.

Ms Thornberry – who lives in Richmond Crescent, home to Labour MP Margaret Hodge and pre-‘97 home to the Blairs – insists the property is ‘cheap accommodation’ for ‘young people who would not otherwise be able to live in Islington’. OK, so £572k may not buy you as much house in Clerkenwell as in Cleethorpes, but it’s hard to see that as cheap. And the young people at risk of homelessness? Ms Thornberry’s own researchers, one of whom is also an Islington Labour councillor.

Fifty years ago, the rule of political scandals was said to be sex for Tories, money for Labour. For money read property under New Labour; whether it’s Mandelson’s mortgage, Meacher’s mansions, the ‘grace & favour’ homes for Blunkett and Prescott, or the Blair’s Bristol flats.

Owning a second (or in Ms Thornberry’s case, fourth) home is perfectly legal. But when you’ve majored on how many of your constituents lack even a first home, it leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth. And when you’re sitting on one of the slimmest majorities in the country, it shows pretty poor political judgement too.

* Click on the links to read what Lib Dem bloggers Andy Mayer, Jonathan Calder and James Graham have been saying about Ms Thornberry’s judgement. And though Lib Dem Voice doesn’t usually link to the Daily Mail, we’re prepared to make an exception on this occasion: ‘Tenants’ fury as husband of Labour MP buys the home she vowed to save’.

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