Your editorial correctly states that Labour "needs to worry about the present and the future", not the past.(The future not the past, 21/09/13) There is a real need for the party to commit itself to provide a well- housed, socially mobile population and a fair society, and that should form the basis of Miliband`s conference speech. Until we have a clear commitment from Labour to the providing of more social housing, a fairer tax system, a pledge to repeal the majority of Gove`s madness, and to maintain a level of social ownership, even if it means re-nationalising Royal Mail, the country will continue to be run for the benefit of the banks, their highly paid employees, and their shareholders. The recently acquired 40,000 mortgages for the buy-to-rent brigade, a dire, unforeseen consequence of the Help to Buy scheme, will mean, not only profit to private landlords and the continuance of high rents for people mostly ill-equipped to pay them, and, of course, more taxpayers` money in the form of housing subsidies going straight to profiteers` pockets, but also yet more government money going to the banks. There has to be a period of re-equalisation, where the gap between rich and poor is reduced, or the result will inevitably be a form of "economic apartheid"; living wages have to be the norm, so that the profit-making corporations actually pay for their labour themselves, and don`t have them subsidised by the British taxpayers, which, hardly surprisingly, rarely includes them.
Instead of offering it to the banks, the cheap money governments can currently get their hands on could be offered to local councils directly, in the form of long-term, no interest, mortgages, with the strict proviso that heavy penalties would be incurred for breaking any assurances given; the money would only be available on a ring-fenced basis, for social housing only, after the councils had detailed how and where it would be spent, how many homes would be provided, and assurances that no "green" areas developed or sold. The lower rents charged for such social housing would undercut the exploitative private landlords, forcing them to reduce their rent, and also make the buy-to-let industry less profitable; we need to return to the 80-20 split Miliband referred to in June, with increased spending on "bricks and mortar". The fact that half-a-million people live in appalling conditions is a shameful indictment of recent governments` attitudes to the less fortunate; Clegg was right to say we need to "hardwire fairness" into our policies, but he said it three years ago!
The current government found £375 billion for the banks, with no significant improvement to the economy; the creation of at least one million council-owned homes seems cheap at