Thursday, November 02, 2006

Let's find some rich people to pick on

I liked it when the government banned fox hunting. It put us on the side of the millions of people whose care deeply about animal welfare, and put the Tories on the side of a grotesque collection of sadists whose behaviour revolted even people who didn't care about the issue itself.

Part of the business of governing is about taking difficult decisions, running services well and communicating effectively. But being able to show what we are against, as well as what we are for, is also important, particularly when the opposition has given up on saying what they really think in the quest for power. Or, in other words, let's find some rich people to pick on.

People who live in Chelsea and drive big cars are one local example for London - their behaviour is anti-social and harmful, most people think that charging them more is a good idea, but they are powerful and rich enough to be able to make sure that they get plenty of local media attention and the support of the local Tories, thus boosting significantly the chances of Labour success in the elections in 2008. Part of the response to climate change could be to identify other examples of harmful things which rich people like to do which could usefully be banned or taxed.

Another example are the people who have got rich by buying up houses and renting them out. They have made a massive windfall profit, often without doing any work beyond contacting a lettings agency to manage the business of letting and managing their property for them. Some landlords are conscientious, but everyone knows examples of landlords who behave badly towards their tenants, or let their properties fall into disrepair and havens for anti-social behaviour. There are all sorts of good uses that a levy of their excessive profits could be put to like increasing the energy efficiency of homes through better insulation or building more affordable housing, but whatever the money gets spent on, the simple process of taking it away from people whose wealth has increased massively in the past 5-10 years and who own lots of homes would help to reduce inequality.

I don't know how representative this is, but where I used to live, the problems caused by houses owned by bad landlords came out as the second most important issue for people after crime, and something like 98% wanted more action to be taken against bad landlords (I suspect that this is slightly more likely to be seen as a priority in the South East than elsewhere). At the same time, I think the landlords' lobby is probably quite influential and I would bet that quite a few Tories have done their fair bit of profiting through buy-to-let, so hopefully they would prove to be opposition as worthy as the Countryside Alliance.


At 9:15 am , Blogger Mat said...

Yeah, but. You allow one traditional enemy of free speech and now "Vermont's poised to elect America's first socialist senator".

Apparently he's a bit cross. As you would be I guess.


At 3:19 pm , Blogger C4' said...

Although I approve of the ban on fox hunting, I do happen to think that the lurid descriptions you make of Tories demostrated how much of a shitebag you and your fellow lefties really are.


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