The End of Council Housing (?)

Very good article here by John Harris in the Guardian (and I’m not just saying that!), my only real criticism being that ‘the end’ of council housing is the thing we have to fight to prevent.


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2 Responses to The End of Council Housing (?)

  1. Andrew Lloyd says:

    Dear Glyn,

    I came to this site having read the John Harris piece. I like his journalism and was interested in this piece. I have since had a look at many of the articles on your site,going all the way back to 2012. I haven’t read them all.

    I really enjoyed reading something by someone who knows the detail and policy around a topic and yet I was struck by how difficult the task of turning around opinion on council housing is. How do you manage not to be depressed about it?

    How do you try and get your arguments out to the wider world? – apart from this blog. Do you lobby MPs? Do you have any MPs who listen to you? The current housing bill you mention is in the news and even Lord Kerslake has been commenting on the need to build more of every kind of house, including council houses.

    Reading your pieces, I was reminded of a biography of Anthony Crosland, written by his widow, where she described how, in opposition in the early 70s, he led the Labour group against a flagship piece of Tory housing policy, in its committee stage and succeeded in changing aspects of it simply by being more forensic and knowing the arguments better than the government did. I don’t know if the current Labour Party has mastered that yet.

    I live in Eastbourne and have no real idea of what kind of council housing exists here nor what plans are afoot to build more homes or of what kind, or of what demand there is for housing. How would I find that kind of thing out? If I know more about it I might contact my local Tory MP. I’d need to know a lot more about it first though.

    Anyway, I wanted to say first and foremost, that I really enjoyed your site.

    Andrew Lloyd

    • Glyn Robbins says:

      Thanks Andrew, good to hear from you. You’ve raised a really important point (‘turning around opinion on council housing’) and one that I’ve been pondering a lot lately. I think those of us who have had direct experience working and/or living in council housing, or have been immersed in campaigning/policy debates, too easily forget that these are not everyone’s experiences. In particular, I’m increasingly conscious that we now have an entire post-1980 generation who have only seen council housing in decline and the subject of denigration. However, this is also the generation that is often suffering the most from the housing crisis, so we need to find a way of appealing to them. I sometimes worry that ‘save council housing’ is both a reactive and potentially superficial argument/slogan that may connect at an emotional, but not a practical/policy level, a bit like ‘save the whale’! Anyway, I’m thinking out loud a bit now, but I’m in the process of writing something for the blog that offers a more detailed assessment of why I think council housing is relevant for the 21st century. Watch this space.

      Re. lobbying, we’re doing our best, but as you suggest, it’s not easy. As I’ve said in a previous post, there has been a significant shift in terms of the leadership of the Labour Party, but that is not conclusive and as on other matters, it’s clear that not all Labour MPs agree with Corbyn on this. As you say, there are some signs of more resistance within the Lords and there’s a lobbying session tomorrow evening when we hope to flush out what scope there is for stepping up the pressure on the government over the Housing Bill. I’ll try to do a ‘report back’ on the blog.

      I don’t know much about housing in Eastbourne either (although it is one of my favourite places!), but it would be excellent if you could contact your MP about the Housing and Planning Bill. For a bit more information, there’s a briefing produced by the ‘Kill the Bill’ campaign here.

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