Video: Tim Farron talks about housing

Liberal Democrat leadership candidate Tim Farron has released his first campaign video and he’s devoted it to housing:

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40 Comments

  • Paul Pettinger 30th May '15 - 5:01pm

    I agree – I think housing should be a priority. The shortage has enmorous implications in setting people and the economy back and, looking forward, it is only likely to become a bigger and more relavant issue. It’s the right thing to do – and it’s prob also good politics. The housing problem also relates to land and land ownership, so we shouldn’t overlook it. Moving more of the tax burden away from labour and hard work, and onto land and unearned income, should also be an important part of out pitch – housing, land and tax reform are heavily interrelated and should be addressed if we really want to campaign to make a much more Liberal society.

  • Sadie Smith 30th May '15 - 5:03pm

    I remember buying a share in the then new Wolverhamton Housing Association, it was a community response to need.
    But I also worry now about private rents. Nothing as stable as in my childhood. Today’s rented sector feels on the edge of Rachman. Supported by yhe State.

  • Sammy O'Neill 30th May '15 - 5:18pm

    Disappointingly lacking on policy. We all know the problem, yet I saw little inspiring there to address it. The focus on the social housing sell off is just sheer tokenism; the problem goes much much deeper than that.

  • I agree housing should be a massive priority. However, lets not just jump on the bandwagon of saying selling Housing Association/Council houses is evil. My parents along with hundreds of thousands of others had their lives transformed – for the better – by being able to buy their council house. I don’t think there is anything unfair about letting someone buy the home they have rented for 20 or 30 years. It may appear unfair to people on the waiting list, but there are two sides to every argument. Tim is right we need more houses to be built in certain areas, but I hope he doesn’t get carried away with his “Cathy Come Home” comments. That was from a time gone by – way before Tim was even born.

  • Paul Pettinger and Sadie Smith make very valid points.
    Sammy O’Neill does not.

    Sadie’s point about soar-away rents in the private sector, whereby taxpayers’ money funds unscrupulous landlords is several scandals rolled into one.

    In London the ludicrous level of private rents is forcing social cleansing on a massive scale.

    If Sammy O’Neill thinks that everybody knows this is a problem he has been mislead. You only have to read back through LDV for the last 12 months to read comments from people who are supposed to be Liberal Democrats who consistently deny that there is such a problem and insist that the private sector and “supply and demand” will answer all questions.

    Indeed it is probably official ‘Liberal Reform’ policy on housing that we should look the other way, yawn and pretend that there is no problem , or if there is a problem it will be solved by “the markets”.

  • Helen Dudden 30th May '15 - 6:12pm

    In Lib Dem Bath, Don Fosters patch, the Lib Dems were doing petitions against housing. As a pensioner I know only too well the sad side of poor housing. I waited 5 years to be re housed, Don did not do housing. High heating costs, ice on the inside of the windows, no insulation.

  • Tony Dawson 30th May '15 - 6:22pm

    I am a strong supporter of Tim and I think Housing is very important for the future.

    Now a request:

    Can we have a little less of Tim and Norman on here, please?

  • Matthew Huntbach 30th May '15 - 8:14pm

    malc

    My parents along with hundreds of thousands of others had their lives transformed – for the better – by being able to buy their council house

    Well, bully for them. They, and you as a child were able to benefit from being allocated cost-price only housing, then benefit again from this state asset being sold at below market price, and in time you will get a nice dollop of inheritance cash when it is sold off – to the highest bidder, and not, if it were still a council house and so being re-allocated, to whoever most needs it.

    But, the next generation have been denied all that. They don’t have houses that are there to be let out at cost price to meet their needs when they are young and too poor to buy a house to raise a family in. And they won’t benefit from being able to buy what was a state-owned asset at well-below market price. So, your parents had their lives transformed for the better at the cost of life being made much worse for other people. And also at a HUGE long-term cost to the taxpayer. Because now those denied cost-price housing have to go for private rented housing instead, quite often council housing bought under right-to-buy and then sold as buy-to-let, and rented out at maybe three times the cost price that identical property gets let out when it is still council owned. The extra rent costs are often paid for by housing benefit, and the tenants are trapped because they have to earn so much to get to the point where they earn enough not to have to use housing benefit subsidy, and as they can’t get to the point of earning that much, it’s not worth bothering trying. Those extra costs, which would not be there if it were not for the selling off of council housing, are borne by the taxpayer and go straight to fund the private landlord.

    There is no point even in using the “build more to meet demand” line, because what happens if private landlords, their pockets stuffed with cash taken from taxpayers, can always afford to pay more to purchase the new build for buy-to-let than can those who want to buy it to live in? It will always go to buy-to-let, funded courtesy of the tax-payer. That is what I see in all new build around me – you see the “For Sale” signs go up one month, the “To Let” signs the next.

  • Sammy O'Neill 30th May '15 - 9:00pm

    @JohnTilley

    I do not think you, or indeed anyone else is in a position to describe the comments of other people as “not valid”. All comments, whether you agree with them or not are valid and should be afforded a basic level of respect. By all means disagree with the comment, but the matter in which you do it matters.

    In regards to your comments, I disagree. I’ve found that people are generally aware that there are serious problems with housing in this country, or at the very least aware of many others holding such a view. They may (and very often do) disagree about the extent of it and the solutions, but I have very rarely encountered people who totally deny there is a problem at all. Naturally there will always be exceptions.

    I also do not agree with your views on “unscrupulous landlords”. That is simply joining the lazy rhetoric favoured by so many of painting a diverse group of people with the same brush. I never see people commenting about the unscrupulous tenants who trash properties, fail to pay the rent or make their neighbours lives misery.

  • Sammy O’Neill: I think that you and John Tilley are probably using the word valid in different and perhaps even opposite senses.

    I gather you take valid to mean “admissible in a discussion” whereas John is using it to mean something more like “cogent, well-thought out.” Clearly a statement or argument can be one without necessarily being the other.

    I would simply use valid as a synonym for true, so obviously I could not agree with either of you!

  • Thanks Tim for speaking od a priority. Housing is a priority. Whether caused by the increase in land-ownership, ‘safe’ bank lending criteria, the numerical rise of middle-earning citizens – governments have allowed housing to get out of hand on a mammoth scale. Housing shortages cannot now be fixed easily. There was a LD priority to build more but this is to be replaced by selling off more of the existing properties – solving nothing for those who are not living in advantageous housing already.

    Buy-to-let has become part of the problem which needs a solution. Fostered on tv channels as a way to make money. Adding landlords to the land owning party in many thousands. Increasing the number of millionaires. It is big business, when joined together nationally; it’s on such a huge scale it dwarfs most big company’s assets.

    One of UKIP’s early successes was tuning in to the call [often from the parents] for housing for young people, especially young families, who could not find accommodation at rents they could afford to pay. Too many ‘builds’ don’t include sufficient numbers of affordable rents for young families. Those who cannot pay are forced to totally reorganise their lives, often in another part of the country far from where their work is located.

    With the land-owning party now totally controlling government, LDs must work with other parties to campaign for housing suitable for the lowest paid workers, planned housing built where it is most needed. This requires detailed surveying of the likely need over decades, not guesswork by government, councils, land-owners, builders, and citizens.

  • Nick T Nick Thornsby 31st May '15 - 10:43am

    You have misinformed yourself once again, John Tilley.

    One of LR’s board members, Tom Papworth, has written an awful lot about the housing crisis, and indeed did so again for a Liberal Reform pamphlet a couple of years ago. Here is the first paragraph:

    “The UK faces a housing crisis. Housing affordability has been worsening for decades. In the 1940s the average household spent around a tenth of its income on accommodation. By the 21st century that figure had increased to a third of household income (despite the enormous rise in female labour market participation). Between 1971 and 2011 the price of housing in the UK increased by nearly 40 times, and the cost of rents rose by a similar amount.”

    http://www.liberalreform.org.uk/coalition-and-beyond/a-liberal-solution-to-the-uks-housing-crisis/

  • @Nick Thornsby 31st May ’15 – 10:43am
    ‘You have misinformed yourself once again, John Tilley.
    One of LR’s board members, Tom Papworth, has written an awful lot about the housing crisis…’

    In the essay linked to –
    “The most effective way of ensuring that developers are not able to over-charge for new housing, that they cannot build low quality products, that land-banking is impossible, that rents are reasonable and that standards are maintained is the existence or threat of competition.”

    From John Tilley’s original post:
    “…or if there is a problem it will be solved by “the markets”.”

    I would say that John Tilley pretty much hit the nail on the head there, did he not?

  • “You have misinformed yourself once again, John Tilley.”

    Mr Tilley has written one posting on this thread.

    Now, if the response had been “You have misinformed yourself, John Tilley”, that would have been a reasonable way to preface a counter view.

    However, the inclusion of “once again” can only be described as pointless, deliberate rudeness.

    Should it have been permitted?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 31st May '15 - 12:44pm

    David, Nick’s comment is perfectly valid. John has made several such comments about Liberal Reform over different threads and there is an argument that we were too lenient in allowing the comment to which Nick refers.

  • Caron Lindsay
    Could you post here all my previous comments on ‘Liberal Reform’ and housing?
    I cannot remember any of them.
    My memory is not what it used to be so I suppose it is possible that what you say is true. I simply cannot remember discussing housing in this context before in any thread.

  • Max Wilkinson 31st May '15 - 2:32pm

    If we are acknowledging that housing supply is an issue, and I believe it is, then that is an excellent start. Indeed, I’m pleased that our policy is to build 300,000 new homes per year. However, if we are to be taken seriously on this matter, we must stop campaigning nationally for more housing while running anti-development campaigns locally. It is not a morally defensible position and will not gain us long-term support.

  • Good topic, light on practical ideas for solutions though. I thought Tony Rowan-Wicks’ comment above was more focussed and practical than Farron’s video; a solid, sensible and detailed housing policy would be a fine achievement.

  • Helen Dudden 31st May '15 - 3:51pm

    I complained for years about the housing shortage in Bath and no one listened. It was your Party in the majority.

    We have student housing and the university filling the city centre, more lucrative with the amount of housing being used as holiday lets. I know other areas have the same issues, but how do the locals stay local?

    The Duchy offered to build at Newton St. Loe that was not acceptable, we are told. But there needs to be some drastic actions, like encouragement to buy in the private sector, that’s where most of this social housing will end, making good returns for those investors.

  • Tony Dawson 31st May '15 - 8:20pm

    @Bolano (from Tom Papworth)

    “The most effective way of ensuring that developers are not able to over-charge for new housing, that they cannot build low quality products, that land-banking is impossible, that rents are reasonable and that standards are maintained is the existence or threat of competition.”

    So, John Tilley was right with half of his guess (which he did not claim to be ‘informed’ at all) whereas Nick Thornsby is totally right: Tom Papworth has written a lot on Housing and it is awful 🙂

    I refer readers to an excellent Radio 4 item on affordable housing which was broadcast earlier today and should be on iplayer:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05vzysp

    and http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02rq84w

    and refer readers to look out for this:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32952890

  • Peter Bancroft 1st Jun '15 - 12:24am

    As a neutral in the leadership election (or to be more accurate, an undecided), I welcome Tim deciding to make housing a top priority issue. I was a bit disappointed at the suggestion that our policy solution is simply to build 300,000 houses. That would indeed solve the issue, but it turns out that our entire political system is geared to not allow that. Paul in the first post makes some good comments about related policy issues (taxation of wealth/ property, reform of land ownership), but the big question for me is how we address our party’s undeniable tendency to be in favour of reform so long as it happens everyone else apart from where we live.

    I’d almost say let’s figure out how to take on the Conservative Govt, the Labour opposition, SNP in the North and the vested interests of the homeowners later, first let’s figure out how to get our own party in line on this one. Do we really believe that even if we had a majority govt we’d find a way of getting our local parties in favour of building 1.5 million houses over a Parliament on their patch? I can’t blame Tim for not wanting to declare war on parts of the party whilst he’s standing for leader – I would hope if elected he has some plans though.

    What is nice to see is that apart from some name-calling this seems to be a topic which unites two sides of the party which were often in opposition during the coalition years. Perhaps in opposition we might see a different divide between those who are truly reformist and those who are broadly happy with the status quo and who prefer occasional tokenist gestures.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 1st Jun '15 - 6:04am

    @John Tilley – not specifically on housing but on Liberal Reform there are many examples of where you have tried to insinuate connections and views that have scant or no basis in fact.

  • Caron Lindsay

    I am happy to agree with you that Liberal Reform hold views that ” have scant or no basis in fact”. 🙂

  • The Adam Smith wing of the Conservative Party hold the view that there is no such thing as a housing crisis but that there is a problem resulting from regulations in the Town and Country Planning Acts.

    They believe that all government has to do is scrap planning regulations, institute a free-for-all in building and land use which they say will create a heaven on earth, where the free market will instantly produce homes for all.

    This utopian view of housing supply is not evidenced in any society on earth — but why let the facts get in the way of a good Adam Smith Institute theory?

    Wiser heads take a different view and recognise that there is indeed a problem n the UK of the lack of affordable housing, particularly in London.

    One such is Lord Kerslake, who is a recently appointed crossbench peer and former senior civil servant.
    He was until February was the most senior official at the Department of Communities and Local Government.

    He has spoken out on the lack of affordable housing this week telling the BBC about the Government’s proposals to sell off social housing. He says —
    “I think it’s wrong in principle and wrong in practice, and it won’t help tackle the urgent need to build more housing and more affordable housing in this country, particularly in London.”

    Tim Farron is on the right track.
    Those who pretend it is all just a problem of planning regulations are on the wrong track.

  • Helen Dudden 1st Jun '15 - 8:41am

    My comments to those doing petitions were, why is there not more public involvement on the subject. The Duchy homes and all that went with it, could only be positive. Look at the other developments, maybe not what some wish. I also have heard comments that the way it’s planned, social housing does not look like social housing. The housing blends into one.

    We need stable situations for children to grow in, for families and also those with disabilities, often not fully respected.

  • Stephen Hesketh 1st Jun '15 - 10:10am

    I’m totally with John Tilley on this.

    In my experience of the Reform bit of the Liberal Reform name is about ‘reforming’ ie shifting the the party and its democratically agreed policies towards the free market solution Right rather than reforming society in the direction of the British-style Liberalism the majority of the party believe in.

    The Liberal Democrats believe in an appropriately mixed economy with the powers of the state being used to ensure citizens are empowered within it and that the proceeds of our individual and collective endeavours are distributed fairly. We specifically recognise the market not to be the best mechanism for spreading wealth and power.

    Liberal Reform is much more inclined to believe in simple aliberal/tending towards ‘libertarian’ free market solutions. This how and why they seek to Reform Liberalism.

  • David Allen 1st Jun '15 - 11:34am

    Caron Lindsay,

    “@John Tilley – not specifically on housing but on Liberal Reform there are many examples of where you have tried to insinuate connections and views that have scant or no basis in fact.”

    Sorry, but this is just no way to pursue a reasonable debate. Sure, Mr Tilley dislikes Liberal Reform and has commented to that effect on a number of occasions. However, this seems to be the first time he has done so with reference to housing policy, so he is not boring us with repetition. Saying that Jack the Ripper is a murderer is boringly repetitious, but, identifying a new victim of Jack-T-R is not. Now, if you happen to believe that Jack has been unjustly maligned by history, you will no doubt be irritated when someone comes along with claims that he killed more people than was previously supposed. However, your irritation should not lead you to dismiss those claims out of hand.

    Further, if you want to use someone’s long-past remarks against them, you really have to do that carefully. If you can say “On 13th March 2011, Tilley wrote that Brussels is in Italy, but careful research since that date has proven that he was talking twaddle”, then you can make a valid case. On the other hand, if you just say “some while back I read a piece by Tilley somewhere which I thought was a load of trash”, it doesn’t really prove a great deal. Except that you would sincerely like to smear Mr Tilley. Which does not look good in cold print.

    Sorry if all these points look a bit obvious and laboured, but, sometimes it’s necessary to labour a point when it is not being properly grasped.

  • Tim is certainly right that housing is a massive problem and I like his suggestion that a collaborative approach is needed to solve it. He is an instinctive team player which is something I am looking for in the new leader but what remains to be seen is whether he has the talent, common to all great leaders, of choosing his advisors well or if he will prove more like Ethelred the Unready and Nick Clegg who both chose poorly.

    But … I hope Tim as leadership candidate isn’t going down the conventional Lib Dem road of picking a likely looking topic of evident importance or deemed to be one of principle then trying to find something based on it that will garner lots of support. That tends to work only to a limited point after which it tends to throw up conflicts with other policies; such contradictions are often ‘resolved’ by refusing to talk about them. Perhaps the clearest example of this is how the party hasn’t been able to address the evident shortcomings of the EU; in at least two successive European elections candidates were told to stick to local issues with predictably dire results that also opened the door to UKIP.

    The is an alternative – hint; it involves understanding the use of ‘narrative’ as discussed in this post and comments.

    https://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-towards-a-strategic-narrative-46118.html

  • Malcolm Todd 1st Jun '15 - 1:30pm

    Gordon
    “I hope Tim as leadership candidate isn’t going down the conventional Lib Dem road of picking a likely looking topic of evident importance or deemed to be one of principle then trying to find something based on it that will garner lots of support.”

    That’s a fair point as far as it goes, though I don’t think it’s fair to characterise it as specifically “Lib Dem” – doesn’t it rather well describe the flailing Labour Party of the last few years?
    I think housing has the potential to be an important element in developing a distinctive “narrative” (as that seems to be the mot du jour), one which is to do with pluralism, targeted intervention and building a society that genuinely promotes and rewards effort and innovation without cr*pping from a great height on those who either try and fail or are simply not equipped to compete in the first place, and without ignoring social consequences of individual benefits. (See Matthew Huntbach’s superb post above.)

    But you’re right, it could also degenerate into a populist policy playground, with no coherent links to other policies. Fingers crossed, I’m voting for Tim…

  • Malcolm Todd 1st Jun '15 - 1:31pm

    (And on a slightly related note – hooray! I got my bird back!) 🙂

  • Malcolm Todd – I didn’t mean it as “specifically Lib Dem” but as (on-exclusively) characteristic of the Lib Dems. More generally it’s probably true of all failing parties and it’s certainly true, as you say, of the Labour Party of recent decades although not of the Labour Party in its heyday.

    For the last 35 years the only political narrative has been Thatcherism (aka neo-liberalism). For other parties who don’t have a developed narrative of their own the result is rather like trying to walk the wrong way along those moving walkways they have at airports; however hard you try, whatever the short-run success in moving in a different direction, you are ultimately carried along by its remorseless motion. It’s why the Coalition was a resounding failure from my POV, not the disparity in size of the participants.

    FWIW much of the Tory narrative is concerned with creating the context in which policies that suit their backers appear reasonable even when they are actually grossly exploitative – e.g. “government is bad/markets are good”. Err, no. Bad government is bad, not just “government” and markets, far from ordinarily and naturally delivering optimum outcomes, habitually favour the bigger/richer players. A liberal narrative should therefore be about when and under what conditions government is good. It should also consider when markets are appropriate (for instance as opposed to the public sector or charities) and how to keep them on the straight and narrow so that they actually deliver for the public good. That thinking needs further development but plug it into the housing debate and the possibility of direct and/or indirect government intervention is opened up – for instance LVT and new council housing.

  • Malcolm Todd 1st Jun '15 - 4:10pm

    I think our preferred narratives definitely start on the same page, Gordon!

  • David Allen 1st Jun '15 - 4:40pm

    “I hope Tim as leadership candidate isn’t going down the conventional Lib Dem road of picking a likely looking topic of evident importance or deemed to be one of principle then trying to find something based on it that will garner lots of support.”

    Hmm. Sometimes it’s really necessary to analyse an issue in depth, get to the nub, work out a comprehensive and credible solution, and then turn it into a compelling narrative. Then again, sometimes it isn’t.

    Peter Bancroft is right: “Build 3 million!” often rubs up uneasily against “But not in my ward!” A compelling narrative which squares that circle is probably unattainable.

    Meanwhile Tim says we should campaign against something we can clearly identify as harmful – the forced sale of housing association properties. Makes sense to me. Sometimes, a partial solution that works is better than a comprehensive approach that doesn’t.

  • Gwyn Griffiths 1st Jun '15 - 5:29pm

    Helen Dudden: “The Duchy homes and all that went with it could only be positive”

    I presume the reference is to D of Cornwall? My experience of the D of Lancaster (owned by his mother) is that they rarely act in the interests of the wider community. Be wary of hereditary Duchies bearing “gifts”.

  • Helen Dudden 1st Jun '15 - 10:15pm

    All the accommodation for students in the city centre, even the former police station. I think that any gift should be considered. We need homes desperately for locals, those who will not spend a short time at the university, those who work here and support local services.

    Some of the social housing could do with more than a facelift.

    I would take my chances, the Duchy would at least come up with a better option than we have at present.

  • Stephen Hesketh 1st Jun '15 - 10:35pm

    Just reopened this thread and noticed my first post regarding Tim Farron’s video was no where to be seen … two tabs open(!) so here is one I prepared earlier as they say.

    A Liberal message based on core Liberal values, in this case on a topic of crucial importance across the entire electoral age range. There is and has been for several decades something fundamentally wrong when the British housing market. The Tory answer is to enforce sell off of homes in a successful sector. Liberal Democrats should oppose this on the basis of natural justice and common sense if nothing else.

    Affordable housing for families and communities is a must in a civilised society. One has to wonder just how many mental, physical, intergenerational issues along with matters of equality and opportunity actually have their roots in the lack of affordable housing.

    it is ood to see Tim Farron raising affordable housing as being a key part of his leadership campaign. I really hope this and he succeeds.

    Paul Pettinger makes additional important points.

  • I think there is an important problem for us (and indeed other parties) here. For any local councillor or candidate to back a significant housing development in their ward is generally political suicide, particularly if it chips away at green belt or green space. Infrastructure in the form of roads, railways, schools and GP’s rarely keeps pace with the new housing so local people are quite right to see the new developments as negative for them personally in various ways. The first aspiration of people when they get a bit more money is to occupy more space (and I will hold my hands up here), and the population has grown over 20% in my lifetime. Once people have lived in a 3 bed semi with a garden they will not willingly move into a high rise apartment (which would be the obvious thing to build) when their children grow up. The other thing of course is that while house prices are objectively 20% or more too high, no homeowner actually wants the value of their house to fall… Powerful and natural forces are lined up against the policy.

    So to “solve” the housing crisis looks like it needs the policies of a command economy (to get the mix of housing right) and a high degree of riding roughshod over local democracy, which is very illiberal.

    The compromise policy is to oppose further sell-offs of housing stock, and encourage building on brown-field sites wherever possible, and perhaps to bite the bullet on some more new towns. And to accelerate developments that have been on hold for years or half-completed, while making a real commitment to local infrastructure.

    I would also point out that there are relatively few people actually homeless in this country although there are many people who are dissatisfied with where they are living. I do wonder if these large figures of new houses required are actually correct. I think the relaxation of planning laws to allow loft conversions etc was a good thing, and we should perhaps look hard at existing stock to allow greater occupancy – tax breaks for taking a lodger or converting part of your house into a self-contained flat, for example.

  • However in the long run, there is only one sustainable solution, and that is breaking the cycle observed over 200 years ago now by the likes of David Ricardo and then developed into policy by the likes of Henry George and J S Mill. The cycle of economic rent. This country was stolen from its people and no amount of pure supply side stimulus will put that right. Only intercepting that flow of rent and using it for public benefit, instead of making people who own nothing pay out of their hard earned incomes, seeing the land values rise because of the community expenditure from that tax and having to pay twice for the same amenities and services.

    If liberalism is about confronting power, and helping those who are victims of the unjust weilding of that power, we must start with the power in the land. The land that was stolen from us the better part of a millennium ago and whose revenues have been steadily privatised ever since, with labour and capital left to pick up the bill for the things that assist a “civilised society” to exist.

    I know both contenders say they support LVT (as, incidentally, do most of the Liberal Reform people I know of and who regularly comment on that in discussions), but it is such a fundamental issue, tackling an aconomic law that is just as fixed as any law of thermodynamics – the Law of Rent. If this process of reinvention of the party does not take us back to at least the position fighting for LVT that we were in in 1906-1909, then I for one shall be going (and no doubt many commenting here will be pleased to hear that).

  • If Generation Rent and their like are correct and in the next 5-10 years there will be hundreds of constituencies that are predominantly renting, and that will include areas of young upwardly mobile erudite and angry professionals still priced out who would a generation ago have hope of being home owners early enough in their adult lives to give secure homes to children and so on, then we should aim full square at this issue. I would almost say to the exclusion of so many other things that can be helped by LVT – from welfare and childcare to international development and casino capitalism. If nobody’s up to that challenge, I’d rather know now so I don’t waste any more of my life hoping that the Lib Dems will one day actually deal with those enslaved by the historical theft of our country and the fundamental injustice of making people without pay for the taxes of those with.

    The FT, the Economist, Prospect, Money Week, and yesterday the New Statesman, have joined the call for land taxes. Joe Stiglitz has gone “full blown rentalist”. If that’s not a sufficiently broad coalition on which to bas e a full balls out redefinition of the party to be a party of “rent not tax” then I doubt anything will. But it needs to happen, whether we choose to do it or not. And if we don’t, I’ll happily help anyone who will, for they will then be the true liberals addressing the power in this country we have been unable, not so much unwilling, to tackle in the last century.

  • Oh, and Betty and Chuck, or “Lancaster” and “Cornwall” as some with far too much deference call them, ought to have theirs taken away completely. They are at the root of that monumental theft and they, most of all the great estates, can show their inheritance right back to that theft. It is *our* land, not theirs. As the annual sing-a-long reminds us every time we meet.

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