Saturday, February 23, 2008

Arguments for homelessness, parts one and two

Historian and wannabe Labour MP Tristram Hunt writes in the Guardian today. It is a mixture of phase one and phase two arguments in favour of homelessness.

Phase one arguments are those which discuss housing policy exclusively in terms of the need for conservation of the countryside without reference to issues of social justice. Thus, Hunt believes that the government should make a priority of conserving the countryside rather than building new homes to help people who are homeless or trapped in unsuitable housing (who don't get a mention), and he quotes Oliver Letwin, of all people, approvingly in support of this. Hunt's position appears to be that Labour should listen more to Oliver Letwin when it comes to their housing and environmental policies.

He combines this with a bit of phase two argument. In phase two, pro-homelessness campaigners state that of course they support building more homes, it's just that they oppose the schemes which are actually proposed and instead support 'alternatives' which are either utterly inadequate or totally impractical or unviable.

Thus, Hunt gives a couple of examples of schemes that he supports, and then runs through a summary of what nimbies from around the country say about schemes in their local area. He writes that "Meanwhile, in Oxfordshire, Kilbride Properties is seeking an eco-town exemption to put 5,000 houses on a site of special scientific interest in designated green belt. It really doesn't get less eco than that."

I actually know a bit about this site, in Shipton Quarry. It's the site which kept on being cited by the Oxford Green Party as an alternative to building an urban extension to Oxford. They said things like, "It's in the Green Belt, but retains the character of Oxford because it's a sufficient distance away from the city and is a sufficient size to be able to create a truly sustainable community", and tried to put forward amendments to Oxfordshire County Council's policies to support building on the quarry.

The Green Party at the time was having to appease its anti-homes, anti-jobs wing (their policy was that the only places where building new homes was ok would be if the alternative use for those places was employment). So when Hunt says of building on Shipton Quarry is that 'it really doesn't get less eco than that', he's got into a position where he claims to be in favour of more housing, but is more anti-development than the Green Party.


At 10:30 pm , Anonymous tim f said...

"Labour's traditional connection to the countryside."

erm, maybe this is me being stupid - but hasn't support for the Labour Party traditionally come from cities/ urban places/places where there are workers, unionised workers at that? What is this traditional connection to the countryside? Is he mixing up the Labour Party with the Conservative party?


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