Err, yes?

It will also be accompanied by a requirement that councils sell their most valuable 210,000 properties from their remaining housing stock. Critics will claim councils are being forced to sell their best property, and reducing council property in England into residual housing for the poor as a result.

And? For what the fuck is council housing supposed to be unless it’s residual housing for the poor?

93 comments on “Err, yes?

  1. Gee Tim, if the Council’s don’t own large stocks of housing, and only have enough for the poor, then the state’s power is diminished.

    After all, its only fair and just that the state own around 20-freaking-percent (I still can not believe that statistic) of the housing stock.

  2. If they can afford to buy a house, they aren’t really poor in the first place.

    Of course lifetime tenancies are the problem; but nobody is willing to admit that.

  3. More naked bag-of-a-fag-packet politics with minimal economic thought. I despair, or I would if it wasn’t already priced in to my view of these cunts.

    Leaving aside whether the national government should interfere with local housing associations or even councils (it ought to be up to local taxpayers to decide whether they want to retain council housing or not, though I appreciate I may be being a little naiive here), I don’t see why taxpayer X should subsidise taxpayer Y to buy a house from a housing assoc when taxpayer X lives in private rented and already pays 2x what taxpayer Y pays in rent?

  4. The discount is probably just the cost of buying them out of their lifetime cheap rent tenancies. As Andrew said above, that’s the underlying problem.

  5. Could they sell off the more valuable houses with lifetime tenancies, then use the money to buy up some cheap land, grant themselves planning permission and build a new house for the same cost as the old one? It’s a rather long way around the problem, but they would then have the same amount of housing but now available for people who actually need it.

  6. But to answer our host’s initial question, for much of the Left council housing isn’t a way to house the poor, it’s a way to advance socialism.

    Wasn’t there a patronising quote from the 30s about wanting the professional man living on a council estate alongside the working man?

  7. As much as I am all in favour of people buying their own home…..

    This is just pissing around the real problem which is the planning law is designed to restrict house building to the bare minimum and to keep housing costs high.

    And before anyone asks, I do live in my own home (sort of, I have a mortgage….)

  8. Interested,

    > I don’t see why taxpayer X should subsidise taxpayer Y to buy a house from a housing assoc when taxpayer X lives in private rented and already pays 2x what taxpayer Y pays in rent?

    Fair point when you look at it that way around, but it’s really about what the purpose of the landlord is. Private landlords make profit, and we all know that they wouldn’t exist if they didn’t. But, for a council, the rent is supposed merely to be a means to an end, the end being helping the poor. When right to buy came in in the Eighties, some of those tenants had paid for their houses four or five times over. There is no moral justification for continuing to charge them rent.

    Also, if they’ve already paid more than the cost of the house, there is no subsidy from other taxpayers.

    I imagine the economics have changed somewhat since the Eighties, mind. Do we still have a lot of tenants who’ve been paying rent for so many decades they have actually (or near enough) paid for the place?

  9. @S2

    I appreciate it’s not simple, but part of the deal is that you get a cheap rent so are able to stay there, paying the cheap rent. If the deal at the outset had been if you pay enough cheap rent for long enough that you get to buy the place then it would feel a bit different.

    Not saying it’s easy and I know taxpayer X is subsidising Y in some other way anyway – it just seems a stretch too far to me for X to first subsidise Y’s rent and then to further pay to watch Y obtain the freehold in a property.

  10. As Richard has hit the nail on the head here, it bears repeating:

    “…for much of the Left council housing isn’t a way to house the poor, it’s a way to advance socialism.”

    It’s also a way to keep a client population of tame voters.

  11. @S2

    ‘Also, if they’ve already paid more than the cost of the house, there is no subsidy from other taxpayers.’

    Also, I don’t think this is right.

    If Y pays £400pcm for a flat the market value of which is £800 pcm, then irrespective of how long he has lived there he is being subsidised, surely.

  12. @JuliaM

    I don’t disagree with Richard’s analysis – it’s just wrong to see the Tories as doing anything other than playing the opposite game.

    Maybe that’s what they have to do to wipe out Labour – I just don’t like their dishonesty and I don’t like my money going to prop up rentseeking politicians.

  13. Salamander: “As much as I am all in favour of people buying their own home…..

    This is just pissing around the real problem which is the planning law is designed to restrict house building… “

    Yes, it is. Because we thought ‘Bladerunner’ was a great movie, but we don’t want to live like it.

  14. Interested.
    “I don’t see why taxpayer X should subsidise taxpayer Y to buy a house from a housing assoc when taxpayer X lives in private rented and already pays 2x what taxpayer Y pays in rent?”
    Yes, its literally postcode lottery.

    SQ2
    “already paid for the house several times over – If that’s the justification then you would expect some small print… e.g. have lived there for 10 years/ 20years +

  15. Interested,

    > If the deal at the outset had been …

    If we stuck to the deal at the outset, no government would ever be able to change any previous government’s policy. Let’s not go there.

    > If Y pays £400pcm for a flat the market value of which is £800 pcm, then irrespective of how long he has lived there he is being subsidised, surely.

    Well, firstly, that’s the rent. I thought you were objecting to subsidised sales. The rent’s happening regardless.

    Secondly, I’m not sure I’d agree with that definition of subsidy anyway. If a landlord is charging £800 but the tenant is only paying £400, then the other £400, which the landlord is receiving but not from the tenant, is the subsidy. That’s not what’s happening with council rents. Councils are choosing to charge £400. The £800, in this case, is merely a hypothetical figure, received by no-one, paid by no-one.

    Obvious example: Council tenant A is paying £400pcm. Across the street, private tenant B is paying £800pcm for near-enough the same kind of property. The private landlord puts B’s rent up to £840pcm. A’s rent stays the same. According to your reasoning, the council have just increased their subsidy to A, even though they are not spending any more money than they were.

    If a council don’t cover the cost of the housing, there’s a subsidy there. But I thought I heard (probably round here) that housing makes money for councils.

  16. Hallowed,

    > If that’s the justification then you would expect some small print… e.g. have lived there for 10 years/ 20years +

    In the Eighties, the price you paid varied depending on how much rent you’d paid over the years. You didn’t just become a council tenant and then buy the place a few months later for a pittance. Is it not going to be the same this time?

  17. The subsidy is the opportunity cost. If the council could rent it for £800 but choose to only rent it for £400 then the subsidy is the £400 they could have charged but didn’t.

    Which is why I argue that all rents should be at full market rates and the poor getting housing benefit. That way the subsidy is clear and obvious, not hidden.

  18. But I thought I heard (probably round here) that housing makes money for councils.

    That’s meaningless, unless one understands the capital structure in each case, ie what loans exist for the housing stock, interest costs etc?

    Whereas the £800 does mean something, in that it is a genuine market rent for that area. I accept it is distorted by the system for planning chitties, but it’s more meaningful than a council surplus unless we understand how that’s financed.

  19. No, Tim, a subsidy is an actual sum of money that changes hands at some point. Ebuyer charge less than PC World. That doesn’t mean they subsidised me when I bought my TV from them.

  20. A bit late, and a bit retro, but Cameron seems to be getting into this policy stuff.

    I wonder if he tried to pick a fight with the miners?

  21. The other subsidy is in new housing association properties. New private developments have to provide a percentage of ‘social’ housing, which generally means the developer sells part of the land (or another plot of land elsewhere) to a housing association at a nominal price.

    That pushes up the per unit cost of the private houses built.

    The other source of new social housing is planning permission given for sites which, under the current system, won’t be given permission for private homes (“exception sites”). Since houses are going to be built there, they could allow private homes which would increase supply and so reduce cost, but instead the housing associations again get the land cheap because no one else will get permission to build.

  22. PF,

    > Whereas the £800 does mean something

    Of course it means something: it’s what you charge if your aim is to make a profit as a landlord. Since that is explicitly not the aim of councils, the £800 is irrelevant to them.

  23. Richard,

    > New private developments have to provide a percentage of ‘social’ housing, which generally means the developer sells part of the land (or another plot of land elsewhere) to a housing association at a nominal price.

    Yes, that’s a subsidy.

    > planning permission given for sites which, under the current system, won’t be given permission for private homes

    I believe the correct word for this is “corruption”.

  24. “it’s what you charge if your aim is to make a profit as a landlord.

    It’s a market rent. Same price as next door. Charge £900 no one will pay. Charge £700, you’ll have a queue, and you could have charged £800. Maybe I’m not following you?

    Since that is explicitly not the aim of councils, the £800 is irrelevant to them.

    Absolutely! Hence the analogy with eBuyer and PCWorld is not relevant to this; they are both the equivalent of private landlords.

  25. Tim,

    > Which is why I argue that all rents should be at full market rates and the poor getting housing benefit. That way the subsidy is clear and obvious, not hidden.

    The downside of that policy is that you’re creating a system where the state gives money to the state in order to create an advertisable book-keeping entry. Once you do that, you get this.

  26. PF,

    > Hence the analogy with eBuyer and PCWorld is not relevant to this

    Sorry, let me reword that:

    Ebuyer charge less than PC World. That doesn’t mean they gave me money when I bought my TV from them.

  27. S2 – Reading your blog entry, the problem (as usual with the state) is more to do with the procedure adopted than the double entry itself.

    A two week gap making a claim invalid is typical state insanity – that’s the problem. (And probably loads other such issues as well in terms of their procedures, apols, I only skimmed it.)

  28. All this talk of market rates might have merit if the government weren’t actively inflating market rates as a deliberate policy. We don’t live in a free market. Stop pretending we do.

  29. PF,

    > the problem (as usual with the state) is more to do with the procedure adopted than the double entry itself.

    Oh, absolutely. My contention is that, without a massive culture change that is never going to happen, such double entries will always lead to such procedures. It’s built in to the state’s attitude: they just don’t understand the difference between real money and fake money.

  30. Jack C – “A bit late, and a bit retro, but Cameron seems to be getting into this policy stuff. I wonder if he tried to pick a fight with the miners?”

    It is a bit f**king depressing to realise that Cameron has been in Number Ten for years and all he can think of doing is copying Thatcher.

    God, he is dumb.

  31. The other subsidy is in new housing association properties. New private developments have to provide a percentage of ‘social’ housing

    Pal of mine did well out of this in London. He bought in a development in Woolwich and found the social housing part was still going for several hundred grand per flat, even though it was substantially less than the price of the ordinary flats. Unsurprisingly, they couldn’t find any “key workers” to stump up that sort of money and so under some deal flogged them off to the public. My mate, who has made a fortune in the overseas oil industry, helped himself to two.

  32. Juliam: Yes, it is. Because we thought ‘Bladerunner’ was a great movie, but we don’t want to live like it.

    My father thinks like this. He believes that this country would be much better off if there was only 40 million people living in it (He claims his point of view is backed up by some mythical UN report on population – I have never been able to find it). He takes great joy in ranting about how there are too many people living in the country, etc, etc.

    He shuts up when I point out that the best way for the country to reduce the population by that amount would be to shoot all the pensioners.

    Strangely enough, that shuts him for some reason…….works every time.

    Meanwhile, back in the real world, this country does need a better housing policy.

  33. I’ve worked in social housing for seven or so years- the sector views itself not as providing housing for the poor (despite means tested eligibility criteria) but as ‘an alternative ownership model’.

    Yes- I know: stupid, but there you are.

    Also- Tim’s view on the price difference between social and market rents is correct, IMO- it is a subsidy, and it’s not transparent, but the way housing benefit is paid to housing associations and other RSL’s wouldn’t necessarily make that subsidy any clearer. As it happens there is effectively a closed market with different prices for social housing stock as it is traded between associations, and social rate rental income forms the basis of that market’s pricing. A shift to market rents would then make stock movement between associations (particularly when they fail…) prohibitively expensive.

    The overall cost of improving the transparency of subsidy would make the running of the system much harder, in other words.

    Oh, and the subsidy for social housing should also include the cost of the refurbishment of the property every few years, and the 24/7 repairs service, all of which is included in the rent.

  34. @S2

    Too busy to reply to most of your reply, and we won’t agree anyway, but re this:

    ‘If we stuck to the deal at the outset, no government would ever be able to change any previous government’s policy. Let’s not go there.’

    I’m just replying to your assertion that the history of the deal (between renter and landlord) is relevant as to some sort of fairness vis a vis the rent subsidy (or otherwise, take your pick).

    Of course no government can bind its successors, but I’m not suggesting they should.

    And this:

    ‘No, Tim, a subsidy is an actual sum of money that changes hands at some point. Ebuyer charge less than PC World. That doesn’t mean they subsidised me when I bought my TV from them.’

    Sure, but if Ebuyer is a publicly funded quango/some other organisation that essentially relies on tax payer funding, that would be a different.

  35. @Ian B

    No-one’s pretending there’s a free market, but there is a market (or several markets).

    The fact that it is distorted in one area by A and in another area by B is no reason not to discuss the distortion in B, and no implication that we accept or don’t understand the distortion in A (or those in C to Z).

  36. Interested-

    What I’m saying is that the biggest distortion is created by the State and an overt policy of above-inflation inflation of property values. If we want to solve these problems, that is where we should start. When property values started relaxing backwards a few years ago, the government actively handed out taxpayers money as cheap loans to force them up again. This is the problem. Planning laws, the State-backed mortgage scam, the continual reinforcement of the fallacy that a “good” market is one in which prices are rising- a basic economic absurdity (think of it in any other sector- “Good news- the price of bread just doubled!”).

    Instead, true to Tory form, they throw out a dog whistle to the Margot Leadbetter constituency.

    A good sign would be private sector prices falling back to council prices. A true free marketeer would want that.

  37. And by the way, council housing was not meant to be “residual housing for the poor”. It was meant to be “decent housing for working class families”. Whether or not you agree with that, the intention was that the proletariat have decent homes to live in, it wasn’t intended as a dustbin you throw the Residuum in.

  38. Salamander,

    > He believes that this country would be much better off if there was only 40 million people living in it (He claims his point of view is backed up by some mythical UN report on population – I have never been able to find it). He takes great joy in ranting about how there are too many people living in the country, etc, etc.

    Whenever anyone talks like this, I just ask them to specify who they wish to exterminate. They never have an answer. Weird.

  39. Possibly because saying you’d prefer fewer people isn’t the same as wanting to “exterminate” anybody.

  40. Squander 2 “Is it not going to be the same this time?” : Don’t know. Didn’t know about the eighties scheme at all but all i’m saying this qualification does make a difference. I reacted against the discount because it seems just bribery, and a giveaway. Now I know that it’s only offered if their rent payments have covered the capital principle had it been a mortgage. Well you know I could probably go along with that.

    Tim and House Bod : Yes opportunity cost. If there is any difference between private and council that is not explained by cachet or post code then bloody hell it’s a subsidy.
    I have not delved too deeply in the past on this but I know simmering underneath is the suspicion that there are lots of folk who are enjoying good wages, prime properties at half the price of people in the private sector. If this policy as a one off gets that all out of the system then I suppose it’s one way to deal with it.

  41. “Good news- the price of bread just doubled!”

    I’ve used this as example myself. Having a spare loaf in the freezer when the price jumped a few years ago did not make us better off.

    The problem here is MP’s incentives: they can claim interest only on second home mortgages. So bubbling house prices are A Good Thing.

  42. “I wonder if he tried to pick a fight with the miners?”

    There are now so few he could probably have an actual punch-up with all of them in a small village hall of their choosing.

  43. Incidentally, market prices of council housing are unknowable unless you’re talking about a couple of council-owned properties in an otherwise private development. People don’t just pay for bricks and mortar and geography; they pay for neighbours too. What’s the market price to live in a nightmarish block of graffiti and piss run by dealers? Or a street terrorised by a local murderer where the police refuse to attend because they’re waiting for him to commit another crime so that maybe they can get enough evidence to bang him up this time (actual real-life example of a friend of mine)? It’s no good looking at prices in that town or suburb and extrapolating. The council block is not the same as the rest. £10 a year would be overcharging in some cases.

    (No, not all council housing is as bad as that, before someone gets all sensitive. But the extreme cases make the example well that these “market” prices aren’t generally knowable — because those properties aren’t on the market.)

  44. I’m thinking it will be quite difficult to get the population down from 65m to 40m without quite a lot of people being killed, directly or indirectly from government action. That’s what, 35%ish? Even Poland ‘only’ lost 20% of theirs in six years of war, occupation, attempted genocide and then war again.

  45. Ian,

    > Possibly because saying you’d prefer fewer people isn’t the same as wanting to “exterminate” anybody.

    Sorry, my mistake: I meant “erradicate”.

  46. Hallowed Be,
    The big difference in the 80’s was that buying privately was entirely possible, and more desirable than buying ex-Council. I don’t remember any complaints from the middle-class (except from the North London paternalist tendency).

    Many tenants would not have been able to buy without the discount due to age or whatever, and had, after all, being paying at least something for many years.

    Besides, a key aim of Right-to-Buy was to change attitudes. Convert a council tenant into a homeowner and, a) they’re now responsible for their own improvements and running costs, and, b) you’re going to generate economic activity.

    I exaggerate, but a great many went from being supine grumblers about the council one week to being DIY enthusiasts the next. The improvement in the look of council estates was astonishing.

  47. I have not delved too deeply in the past on this but I know simmering underneath is the suspicion that there are lots of folk who are enjoying good wages, prime properties at half the price of people in the private sector. If this policy as a one off gets that all out of the system then I suppose it’s one way to deal with it.

    The two sectors are not public and private. They are state owned, and state managed. The people in the state managed sector continually vote for the state to push up property prices in the hope of a future profit. It is thus somewhat rum of them to be jealous of those in the state owned sector who are less subject to the “home-ownerist” (© Mark Wadsworth) movement’s irrational attempts at profiteering.

  48. Rob,

    > I’m thinking it will be quite difficult to get the population down from 65m to 40m without quite a lot of people being killed, directly or indirectly from government action.

    Exactly. And, worldwide, the overpopulation doom-mongers generally want us to get down to 1 billion or less. In such a scenario, the question of who gets to stay and who gets to die is very real. And yet they’ve never even considered it until you ask them. It’s just this abstract “population” thing that needs to be made smaller. Not people.

  49. I’m thinking it will be quite difficult to get the population down from 65m to 40m without quite a lot of people being killed, directly or indirectly from government action.

    Well, in the case of pretty much any European population, just close the borders and wait a few decades for the non-replacement rate birthrate to do its thing. For instance.

  50. I haven’t seen a full published text yet, but apparently Cameron’s big new policy is to force private organizations to sell their assets at a price to be determined by him, and to force local authorities to pay a large part of that price. All as an electoral bribe to the buyers.

    I suppose this will be met with howls of outrage in libertarian quarters.

  51. > in the case of pretty much any European population, just close the borders and wait a few decades for the non-replacement rate birthrate to do its thing.

    Have you tried suggesting this to overpopulation doom-mongers? They don’t usually accept it as a viable solution. It’s not fast enough. It requires no Official Action. It implies (correctly) that populations start to decline once they become very wealthy, which in turn raises the spectre of making the other societies wealthy enough to do the same, and the selfish little bastards will insist on becoming wealthier by going through the population-explosion stage. And, of course, it solves the “problem” of the wrong populations — see my original point.

  52. SQ2- ” Market prices of council housing are unknowable ”
    Of course its knowable, just put it on the market and try and sell it et Voila.
    Ian B “The two sectors are not public and private”
    1. What about private renters? Is it a bit rum of them too?
    2. In short supply, housing price in private sector goes up, in the state, it’s waiting lists with priorities set by, I dont’ know what a councillor presumably. If you get a house though you enjoy low (alright lower) rents.
    This measure (if its to have any merit beyond bribery) will do more to get people in the sector where price deals with the allocation.

  53. I’m thinking it will be quite difficult to get the population down from 65m to 40m without quite a lot of people being killed, directly or indirectly from government action.

    Isn’t that the goal of energy poverty for pensioners in winter?

  54. SQ2:“Whenever anyone talks like this, I just ask them to specify who they wish to exterminate. They never have an answer. “

    I could be facetious and suggest that I can go one better, as I have a list

    But what IanB said. No need for extermination, just discouragement.

  55. Julia,

    > No need for extermination, just discouragement.

    As I said above, I typed the wrong word there. Erradication, not extermination. Still a reasonable question, and they still don’t have an answer.

  56. Squander Two said: “It’s just this abstract “population” thing that needs to be made smaller. Not people.”

    Hobbits! Don’t eradicate people, breed them smaller. That’s the housing and natural resources problems solved. We’ll eat less and take up less room to better fit the rabbit hutches planning departments and developers are keen on.

  57. Squander 2
    Rental price /Selling price. I’m surprised you think one price is knowable by putting it on the market and the other one isn’t. Perhaps discoverable is the better term.

  58. @ PaulB
    The Grauniad claimed to know what hadn’t been published and ran an article. Doesn’t coincide with the Conservative manifesto. The latter wants local authorities to sell off the most expensive properties *when they fall vacant* so at full market price and use the money to build new houses.

  59. The opinion that an area is overpopulated does not naturally imply any particular policy to reduce the population. “Who do you intend to ‘eradicate’?” is SJW Kafka-Trapping.

  60. @S2

    ‘As I said above, I typed the wrong word there. Erradication, not extermination. Still a reasonable question, and they still don’t have an answer.’

    There is no answer, though – unless you are talking to Hitler (and despite the masturbatory fantasies of Neil aka Ironman most British people are not really like that).

    I can’t name a single person I would exterminate or eradicate but, like someone’s dad above, I do think there are ‘too many’ people in this country.

    However, this is only really from an aesthetic point of view.

    That is, I don’t like traffic, noise, litter and all the other things that are generally worse with more people.

    I could draw up a list of types that I would like to see less of in England – youths with baseball caps, youths with earrings, tattooed women (in fact, tattooed people, except for soldiers who get a pass), Scousers, Brummies, Irish travellers, fat people, stupid people, ugly people.

    That doesn’t mean I should be expected to draw up a list of names, or to do anything to bring about a reduction in population – I wouldn’t, I just regret it.

    I live in the heart of the rural Cotswolds, where there are no masses, so it’s all academic to me anyway.

    Carry on.

  61. ‘The opinion that an area is overpopulated does not naturally imply any particular policy to reduce the population. “Who do you intend to ‘eradicate’?” is SJW Kafka-Trapping.’

    So obvious it shouldn’t need stating.

    Its corollary is: if a million new people moved to the square mile you inhabit, would you be happy about it? Why not?? Do you want to murder them??? How many people would you accept before you started murdering them????

  62. john77: I don’t know what the Guardian wrote, but what the manifesto says is:

    We will extend the Right to Buy to tenants in Housing Associations to enable more people to buy a home of their own. It is unfair that they should miss out on a right enjoyed by tenants in local authority homes. We will fund the replacement of properties sold under the extended Right to Buy by requiring local authorities to manage their housing assets more efficiently, with the most expensive properties sold off and replaced as they fall vacant.

    Which matches exactly what I described. A Right to Buy from Housing Associations is the same thing as an Obligation on Housing Associations to Sell.

  63. Oh God, I’m on the same side as PaulB. If I end up on the same side as Ironman as well, somebody take me out the back and shoot me. It’ll be the kindest thing.

  64. Hallowed,

    > I’m surprised you think one price is knowable by putting it on the market and the other one isn’t.

    I think no such thing. I do think, however, that, if you put a council house on the private rental market, it is no longer a council house. You cannot therefore discover the market price of the properties in a council estate; you can only discover what their market prices would be if they were to cease to be a council estate — and there is little reason to think those two prices would be close. (I did specifically say that you can discover the market price of a council-owned property in a generally privately owned area.)

  65. Hallowed Be:
    “I have not delved too deeply in the past on this but I know simmering underneath is the suspicion that there are lots of folk who are enjoying good wages, prime properties at half the price of people in the private sector. If this policy as a one off gets that all out of the system then I suppose it’s one way to deal with it.”

    Yes: they absolutely are- but they (or their parents) were once eligible, so why would they move out now their circumstances have changed?

    The response from most associations to limit this use of subsidy is to use fixed term tenancies for new leases in areas of high demand. Unfortunately, this eminently sensible move has been derailed within many organisations by pointless navelgazing as to the purpose of social housing and so forth.

  66. Not really opining either way here, but presumably a private property on a council estate has a market value, even if you haven’t privatised the whole estate.

    Which still brings us back to the point that the basic problem is that private prices are artificially high, rather than council prices being (necessarily) artificially low, at least in many cases. And the property market inflation is a deliberate State policy. And we ought to look at fixing that first, instead of the State paying council tenants a very large subsidy to buy council houses, which so far as I can tell is what this policy amounts to.

  67. Or no, wait a minute, that’s not it, they’re forcing housing associations to sell properties to private buyers at market rates rather than their tenants when they are vacated… I think…

    /now confused

  68. OK, things are getting a bit confused here. Salamander said his dad was talking about the overpopulation of England, and I responded to that with the reply I usually give to people who think the Earth is overpopulated. In my experience, there’s a lot of overlap, but fair enough: if you think England is overpopulated but the Earth isn’t, my argument obviously doesn’t apply to you. Although you are still talking about eradication, one way or another.

    Ian,

    > The opinion that an area is overpopulated does not naturally imply any particular policy to reduce the population.

    No, but people who complain a lot about overpopulation usually say that something should be done about it.

    Interested,

    > can’t name a single person I would exterminate or eradicate …
    > I could draw up a list of types that I would like to see less of in England

    Well, I didn’t say anything about naming individuals. And you have just answered the question: you have a list of people, or groups, or types of people, that you would like eradicated from England.

    > There is no answer, though – unless you are talking to Hitler (and despite the masturbatory fantasies of Neil aka Ironman most British people are not really like that).

    There is an answer: you just gave it. Sorry, what was your point?

    > if a million new people moved to the square mile you inhabit, would you be happy about it? Why not?? Do you want to murder them??? How many people would you accept before you started murdering them????

    I’ve said twice now that my use of “exterminate” was a simple mistake. Going on about murdering is therefore simple obtuseness. “Eradicate” means “get rid of”; it is neutral as to method.

    The point is that people are not eradicating themselves, or not doing so enough to satisfy those who complain about overpopulation (obviously: hence the complaining). So, if you want less of them, and they’re not getting rid of themselves, you’re going to have to choose which to get rid of. You don’t have to identify groups: “at random” is still an answer. Or, hey, everyone with a tattoo. That reminds me of something.

  69. @PaulB: I assume you’re opposed to the Scottish govt’s policy on forcing private landowners to sell their land if the State decrees that they own ‘too much’ or are standing in the way of ‘community development’ then?

    Don’t remember you making much fuss about the rights of private landowners then though.

  70. Paul B said: “Which matches exactly what I described. A Right to Buy from Housing Associations is the same thing as an Obligation on Housing Associations to Sell.”

    Knowing nowt about this topic, are ‘housing associations’ and ‘local authorities’ interchangeable terms or separate bodies? The quoted bit makes it sound like housing associations will lose houses and councils will be required to fund the replacing of them.

    If the right to buy a housing association house is to be funded by local authorities selling vacant houses, would the government force the sale of housing association houses before the funding is available to replace them? If you do it that way (which to me looks backwards) I could see it as a mechanism for pressuring councils into selling off council houses left, right and centre in order to find the money.

  71. Squander-

    To use a common argumentational approach, your use of “exterminate” was… odd. Even… interesting.

    Does your only limb look suspiciously like a toilet plunger?

  72. Knowing nowt about this topic, are ‘housing associations’ and ‘local authorities’ interchangeable terms or separate bodies?

    Separate bodies: local authorities are yer unitary authorities, London borough councils etc; housing associations are private not-for-profit businesses.

  73. Skipping through the Tory manifesto, I find all kinds of weirdness. There is going to be a “blanket ban on all psychoactive substances” (caffeine?), the right for “local communities to take over their local pubs”(?!), a blanket apology for anyone convicted under the Gross Indecency Law(!) and

    “We have set up and independant statutory inquiry into child sexual abuse,”

    -looks like either Ritchie or Ironman did the proofreading.

    They’re off their fucking rockers, the lot of them. No wonder the flagship is this incoherent nonsense with social housing.

  74. UKL-

    I desperately hope they don’t deliver. Can you imagine the Frankenstein’s Monster of positive rights, pro-state qualifications and “responsibilities” that will emerge if they write one?

    “The right to speak being a privilege of a modern progressive society, citizens shall be allowed to speak in such manner that does not cause offence, discriminate on the grounds of race, sexuality, gender, disability or other grounds which the Parliament may amend, violate public decency or matters of faith, in such media as shall be decided by the Parliament, subject to such limitations as…”

  75. I’m not sure reading manifestos is an entirely good idea, even if they were to mark the bits they actually mean.

    Job interviews (effectively) last about 30 seconds, and we should probably judge political leaders in the same way.

    Or better, as the stakes are so high, set them up in revealing situations and see how they react.

    Poking them with sticks has plus points, but a bit unscientific.

  76. My general impression of manifestos is that they’re worth reading because anything good in them won’t be implemented, whereas some policy mentioned in one sentence that everyone overlooks will be implemented with terrible consequences.

    The Poll Tax was like that. In the Tory manifesto, hardly anyone noticed, look where that ended up.

    In this year’s for instance, we get a boast about 3000 more prison places for male inmates, and the promise of a policy to give women non-custodial sentences whenever possible. Reported in the press anywhere? No. Will they do it? Oh yes.

  77. Ian,

    > To use a common argumentational approach, your use of “exterminate” was… odd. Even… interesting.

    I long ago lost count of the number of times I confused two words starting with the same letter and ending with the same sound. Maybe get over it.

  78. @ PaulB
    “I don’t know what the Guardian wrote,”
    How did you get to click on this thread without seeing the Grauniad quote at the top of it?

  79. Squander 2 – you do seem to want everyone else not to take you literally, while insisting on your right to take everyone else literally.

    Yes, I could draw up lists of people I want to see less of. This is not the same thing as ‘wanting to exterminate or eradicate’ anyone.

  80. john77: I didn’t know it was from the Guardian. Since you addressed your remark to me, I thought you were replying to what I’d said, which was about the Tories’ policy to expropriate the assets of Housing Associations for electoral advantage.

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