It was a nice surprise, almost shockingly so, when Jeremy Corbyn’s acceptance speech on Saturday featured a major reference to housing, and particularly the importance of housing in the campaign for London.
We are going to be campaigning on the crucial issue of housing in London. I am fed up with the social cleansing of London by this Tory Government and its policies. We need a Labour mayor in London who can ensure we do house everyone, we do end the sky high rents we do end the insecurity of those living in the private rented sector. End the scourge of homelessness, we are strong enough and big enough to do that.
Red Brick was delighted to publish a long piece from Jeremy on housing during the Leadership campaign – gaining the highest readership of any single post in the 5-year history of the blog – in which he gave very full answers to questions posed by the London Labour Housing Group, covering issues such as new housebuilding, affordable housing, private tenants, homelessness, and more. The full piece can be read here.
At his first Parliamentary Labour Party meeting last night, Jeremy identified 3 key priorities for his leadership. The first he mentioned was housing.
The importance Jeremy attaches to housing has been reinforced by the appointment yesterday of John Healey MP to become the shadow housing and planning minister, with a seat in the shadow cabinet. (Good profile on Inside Housing here)
This is good news for several reasons. First John already has the experience of being Housing Minister, and was widely accepted to have done a good job: in a short stint just before the 2010 election he got some affordable houses built, was the person who finally grappled with the issue of housing revenue account reform after years of dithering, and developed a serious agenda of private rented sector reform. Second, he has encouraged a lot of housing debate in the period since 2010, including being instrumental in the setting up of the SHOUT campaign for social rented housing. He has also done some serious and detailed work to make the ‘benefits to bricks’ slogan a workable policy with the potential to transform housing in this country. And third, he will bring some energy to Labour’s front bench on housing after a very lacklustre period, offering trenchant but clever opposition to the latest dreadful Tory policies.
The combination of Jeremy Corbyn, John Healey and Sadiq Khan as London mayoral candidate gives housing a profile in the Labour Party that it has not had for many years. There is a huge agenda of issues to grapple with, which Red Brick will cover more in the coming period.
Crucially, it has been hard to make the case for housing investment in the context of a Labour Party policy committed to an austerity programme and no additional borrowing. The combination of Corbyn’s economics and Healey’s detailed knowledge, especially of housing finance, could be hugely important.