Labour, RTB, suspension and anti inspirational guff

Labour has announced a policy of suspending the RTB in England which has seen Pete Apps issue a strongly worded denunciation of it – or in simple terms for me a hissy fit.

Its anti-aspirational blah blah, it reveals that Labour is anti-aspiration says Gavin Barwell the housing minister (surprise, surprise!)

The Inside Housing report also by Pete Apps says 45,000 council houses have been sold under RTB in 3 years since 2012 or at most 15,000 per year.  There are 1.6 million council houses so this is less than 1% per year of council housing sold, or more than 99% of council tenants do not take up the right to buy and that is significant … and appears to have passed everyone by in their consideration of what the policy means.

If you make policy on ‘aspiration’ then you start from the spin that 87% of tenants WANT to buy their home. Which is pure delusion as over 99% of council tenants do not take up the right to buy.

Less than 1% of council tenants take up the right to buy each year!

Pesky numbers always get in the way of a good diatribe and political spin.

Scotland & Wales have or are shortly about to get rid of RTB altogether and not a mention of this and no apoplectic diatribe in Inside Housing or elsewhere over this … yet when a suspension applies to England we see this apoplexy?  Why?

For me it is just an anti-Corbyn diatribe and pro John Healey position, that is political opinion stemming from political leaning and political favouritism.

Labour could have done nothing yet that would be wholly indecisive.  Labour could have re-introduced minimal RTB discounts as John Prescott did and that would have been portrayed by the left as still supporting the policy and would have been jumped on by the right as the abject denial of aspiration. Labour could have banned the policy altogether and led to howls of opprobrium by the Tories … yet all they have done is suspend.

The decision to suspend is clever politics so long as the reasons for that suspension are hammered home such as it does not produce a 1:1 replacement at all and never has or is ever likely to produce a 1:1 replacement, and even at a bedsit replacing a 4 bed house either.

The fact that this 36 year old Thatcher policy is itself modified by today’s Tory party to have to ensure a 1:1 replacement is testament to the fact it never has and to the fact that the Tories know if it doesn’t do so then the policy is a failure.  The Tories insist on a 1:1 replacement as a prerequisite and despite all their shenanigans over a 3-year time lag to see such replacements, even that does not work and never will work.

Everybody knows the replacement 1:1 does and will not happen.  Everybody knows that the impact and consequence of RTB is the problem and so the focus has to move away from the ethereal and theoretical aspiration to the reality – a reality anyone in housing knows is a reality of disastrous proportion.

Suspending RTB in England is a clever move politically as it appears that Labour has taken decisive action (aka leadership) although it has only suspended and it places the emphasis on the ability of the policy to deliver which we all know it can’t do.

5 years ago Ed Miliband said to the party conference in Liverpool that Thatcher and the RTB was right; he bought into the aspirational guff that the RTB policy is and he did this AFTER much political criticism came Labour’s way after Prescott significantly reduced the RTB discount levels.  To go back to that would be met with glee by the Tories as they would keep the agenda on aspiration and ethereal constructs.

The decision to suspend forces debate on what the policy is and what it means … which is the last thing the Tories want. Clever.

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