Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Serious about London

Liberal-minded people living in London should take a close look at Brian Paddick, the Lib Dem candidate. The way that elections get reported as just being 'a two horse race' is not right. Brian should not be ignored because he is not as well known as Red Ken or Boris.

Then, having had a look at Brian, people will realise that there are much better reasons not to vote for him. I'll just give one example, his housing policy. Brian says:

"What we need is councils to pay Housing Associations to house families permanently. For the same cost over a ten year period, the Housing Association can borrow and buy a property. After ten years the loan is paid off and the property can be rented cheaply creating a parallel market in affordable rented accommodation."

Here's how this would (not) work:

A housing association would buy somewhere on the open market, with a short mortgage, which is paid off by the (high) rent for 10 years, then it's rented out at a social rent once the loan's paid off.
So - let's pretend an RSL can get a loan at 0% interest. And let's say a house costs £250,000. That'll be £25,000 a year for 10 years, which is not in fact the same amount of money as rent, but rather more. And they can't get a loan for 0%. And houses cost a lot of money in London. Some housing associations in the South East actually did do this sort of thing for a while, but the properties were just too expensive so they sold them again.

Even if you don't agree with everything that Ken Livingstone has done in London, his substantive policies have always been based on a detailed understanding of the issues, from the congestion charge and the investment in public transport to his campaigning work to increase the pay of low-paid London workers, supported not just by the trade unions but by businesses such as Barclays and KPMG. There's just no way that he'd come up with this kind of poorly thought through rubbish on such an important issue as social housing.

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