Lib/Dems split on housing

Before discussing what the Lib/Dems said about housing today, let me nail my own colours to the mast. We need more houses, in the right place, with adequate road and rail capacity for people to get to and from them. I support infrastructure-led development on Brownfield sites. 

It is to the credit of the Lib/Dems that their party conference has had a genuine debate about one of the most difficult issues facing Britain - the need for new housing.

I'm not sure, however, that the way in which they discussed it was quite so much to their credit.

Sir Ed Davey's Lib/Dem leadership has been trying to use housing as a "Wedge" issue to take Conservative seats in by-elections by appealing to the most extreme opponents of new development - the ones who are not so much NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) as BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody.)

This has generated a revolt led by the part of their party must likely to be harmed by "Don't put one brick on top of another" policies - the Young Liberals, who were apparently seen wearing T-shirts with the slogan "Build More Bloody Houses."

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron was brought in to attack the party's youth wing for wanting to build more houses as "pure Thatcherism." Guido Fawkes reports on his speech and the reaction here:

Tim Farron Turns Against "Thatcherite" Liberal Youth – Guido Fawkes (

Different factions within the Lib/Dems put out leaflets attacking one another's position on housing in the sort of terms they usually use for denouncing the other parties, leaflets like this:


I have to take issue with the last line of the above leaflet. They're certainly right that targets don't build houses, but Liberal Democrat councils don't build houses either - they are more likely to try to stop them being built.

The conference passed the pro-development position - which if it was allowed to be implemented, would move the Lib/Dems from being the most anti-development to the most pro-development of the major political parties.

I won't hold my breath waiting for this to happen - though the shot across the bows that the Young Liberals have given to the BANANA faction within their party is probably a good thing.


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