Which leads to an interesting question

I’ve always believed you can fix things with politics. It’s why I’m an environmentalist, became an MP, and am running for Mayor of London.

So which problems has politics managed to fix? And which have you managed to fix, eh Zac?

35 thoughts on “Which leads to an interesting question”

  1. Wow. Stunning ignorance for a man of his age and a supposed Tory, albeit a neomalthusian human hating enviro loon

  2. Well, he fixed the question of how a privileged waster can create the impression of doing something for a living without actually toiling in a productive manner like one of the plebs. So that’s something.

  3. “My plan is designed to double the current rate of home building, to 50,000 a year by the end of my first mayoral term.”

    If we sorted out housing benefit, so say, the state only funded you to live in a cheaper place like say, Northampton, this wouldn’t be a problem. If employers had to pay more to cover the rents of low-paid workers, maybe they’d consider moving their business elsewhere.

  4. What is stopping market forces already coming to bear on employers? And why Northampton, when there are yet cheaper “sink towns” to dump the Residuum into?

    They already shifted much of London’s unwanted poor white people out into New Towns (like Northampton) in the 1970s, anyway.

  5. The Stigler,
    My suggestion was to declare some inner postcodes excluded housing benefit, (e.g. you can’t claim housing benefit for an address in SW1.) You would start by exempting central London and move outwards over time.

  6. Ian B,
    Just the unwanted poor brown people to go, then?

    They mostly moved working people out to new towns, I know, we nearly got exiled to Crawley. Crawley for fuck’s sake! That would have screwed up my life for sure.

    You have to shoulder dolees out of the way to get to the offie in Hammersmith. Have you seen what it costs to live there as a private citizen? Eyewatering. Morally repugnant in my view.

  7. And yet the alternative is..?

    Fewer MPs, and a smaller government portfolio?

    Although there is about as much chance as that happening as Ritchie writing something that makes sense.

  8. They already shifted much of London’s unwanted poor white people out into New Towns (like Northampton) in the 1970s, anyway.

    The London overspill programme was a disaster in East Anglia. Uprooting people from their functioning communities in the East End and dumping them in large estates in little market towns like Thetford in Norfolk was arrogant and short-sighted. The results were increased mental illness, family break-ups, vandalism and crime — a massive decades-long job-creation scheme for social workers, housing ‘professionals’, counsellors and other public sector parasites. And the destruction of Thetford’s character and appearance.

  9. Roue,

    I didn’t say anything about brown people. I was being sarcastic about the Residuum. My intention was to imply that London’s housing problem is not down to the remnant undesirable poor people clinging on and bringing the tone down.

    My general point being that the right’s tendency to blame economic problems on the lower orders is misguided. It’s not them responsible for pushing property values up to ludicrous levels.

  10. Ian B,

    Well, because HB skews the market. Some people would rather be in London.

    And I have nothing at all against Northampton. I just thought of somewhere where there are job, where a real shithole like Barnsley doesn’t have them.

    Yes, you probably want to ratchet it up. My general view is that there seems to be not much you can do about chavs with kids that don’t want to work, but you can at least put them in cheap places. If they want to sit around watching Jeremy Kyle, they can do it in Lincolnshire as well as London. And if employers need cleaners, they can pay for them. Too expensive in London? Move elsewhere.

    Andrew M,
    Well, except £350/wk for a 3 bed house is double what you need to pay in Northampton (£167/wk in Kingsthorpe, which is a pretty reasonable area).

  11. The days of London being cheap to live in are gone. No amount of politics can change that.

    And this proposal is idiotic:
    “any homes built on mayoral land – as many as 30,000 – will only be sold to Londoners – people who have lived or worked in London for at least three years and don’t already own a home.”

    Does he really think this will work? Does he really not understand that middle-man companies will simply spring up, whereby a qualifying Londoner will purchase properties on behalf of rich foreigners?

    Meanwhile, someone who moves from Northampton to London because they get a job in London is banned from buying a house in their own country. Or else they have to pay an extra sum to buy it by going through a middle-man company, thus making housing even more expensive. And inevitably the whole thing becomes increasingly bureaucratic.

  12. Actually, it looks like he’s only talking about these new houses. In which case, what’s the point? Rich foreigners aren’t going to be buying those properties. So what’s the point of excluding the guy who’s just come down from Northampton?

  13. Reading further, he says: “My “Londoners First” rule will be in force for the entire first year that the houses are on sale.” So it will make virtually no difference to the overall housing situation in London, then. A big pronouncement that will achieve precisely nothing.

  14. Ian B,

    I don’t blame the poor. But if you subsidise the poor to live in London, you make it easier for London employers to remain there rather than moving.

    I got a message about Boris encouraging video game companies to move to London and really, you just don’t need to make games in London. It’s nuts. Jeff Minter did it in Reading. I know a company in Cirencester.

    (personally, I don’t even understand the appeal of London today. Growing up in Northampton, I would take trips there to go to specialist record shops, or to see some art films. I can do all of that from anywhere today. What’s left? The opera house? And how often do I need that? Cereal cafes?)

  15. So Much For Subtlety

    Anon – “If they want to sit around watching Jeremy Kyle, they can do it in Lincolnshire as well as London.”

    They can do it even better in Jamaica or Lahore.

  16. little market towns … in Norfolk … arrogant and short-sighted. The results were increased mental illness, family break-ups…

    Are we talking about Ritchie here?

  17. From an economic point of view, any attempt to articially reduce housing costs in London can only be a subsidy to London employers. One might as well subsidise London employers directly & avoid the non employed intercepting the dosh.

  18. Somewhat on topic, I was recently approached by an agent for a position doing what I (probably) do best – based on London. I gently pointed out to the agent that this company is going to have to pay one hell of a premium to get their project engineering done in London, where they will be competing with bankers, lawyers, NGOs, and Russian oligarchs.

    But the agent said they were willing to pay, so I did a calculation on what it would cost to rent an apartment, pay tax, etc. and came up with a rather hefty figure. The agent balked at this, and said this was above what the company would pay. And I said tough shit, they want to do this in London, they’ll have to pay. And the reason they want to do this in London is the parent company directors want to swan around the city and live the high-life rather than run an office in a shithole like Manchester. Which is fine, but it comes at a cost.

    Last time I looked there was an advert for the job on LinkedIn with about 1,000 comments from mainly unqualified Indians expressing their interest. I bet one of them gets hired, too.

  19. And, as I’ve said many times before, the whole exercise is a very expensive way of subsidising several square miles of crap Victorian terraces. Bulldoze & put up some decent highrise & the problem goes away.

  20. Tim Newman,

    Software and web design is now moving out to Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and West Berks because of this. London is £100/day extra for people, not including office costs. And while you still need some human interaction, it isn’t that much. I worked for a client in West London for 6 weeks, and his 2nd was in Huntingdon. We had a meeting at the start and that was it. After that, it was all online tools, phones, email. I’m going to see someone in central London next week and I doubt I’ll see him more than once a month.

    And it’s not as good as being in the same room, but for the savings, it’s a big difference.

  21. BiS,
    Hear, hear. London needs decent apartment buildings, not gentrified workman’s cottages.

    Ian B,
    I was just funnin’ wid ya. I didn’t mean nuttin’ by it.

  22. DocBud,

    They’re not cheap shoes, and you wouldn’t dump people in Northampton to be near Doc Martens, you’d put them in Wellingborough. Northampton’s more upmarket than most of the county.

  23. Dear Mr Worstall

    As they say, if government is the answer, it must have been a bloody stupid question.

    What’s the solution to problems caused by government?

    Er, more government…


  24. How silly of me, The Stigler, though I still think chavs buy brand names irrespective of the cost.

    The advantage of dumping poor whites in Wellingborough is the low Doc Marten miles.

  25. Wasn’t “politics” a problem waiting for a solution? Or was it the other way around?
    Hard to tell with that lot..

  26. Cal,

    > “The days of London being cheap to live in are gone. No amount of politics can change that.”

    Sure there is. They can fuck up the economy, for starters. Or tone down the level of policing. Or under-fund the schools – that’ll have the middle classes fleeing in no time. London can be cheap, or it can be desirable; it can’t be both.

  27. Bloke in North Dorset

    Why all the fuss about trying to get private companies to move out? Why not start with Govt departments. Look at all those huge buildings along Whitehall, the DfE opposite the ASI office on Great Smith Street and the Home office a bit further down. Shift the civil servants out (the ones that remain) and you could probably get a few thousand decent apartments in there for starters.

  28. I dealt with a refugee benefit claim last week – she was a 64 year old Ethiopian, from a border tribe called the Ogaden who get discriminated against a lot. In her story her husband was murdered in jail, she’d crossed the Med, ended up sleeping at a couple of central European train stations, met some smugglers who had got her across the English Channel and refugee status granted in October last year and granted a Pension Credit claim.
    Now living in a rented one-bedroom shared accommodation in West London.

    She ends up speaking to me as the Housing Benefit doesn’t cover all the rent as it’s about £33 a week above the Local Housing Allowance, and wanting advice on the shortfall. I mention the usual options like discretionary housing payments, or moving somewhere more affordable long term like Wales or Yorkshire. At which point she went off it and said she couldn’t handle the stress of thinking about moving again.

  29. Here in New Zealand, the Government has floated the idea that those on the waiting list for State housing in Auckland might consider accepting a house somewhere else where they seem to be readily available.Cue the usual outrage from the usual suspects even though there is a large cash incentive being offered.

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