Building new homes to trump Labour is key to winning the election, Tories told
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Sunday 29 December 2013
The Conservatives are being urged to trump Labour by promising to build 300,000 new homes a year, in an attempt to shed their “party of the rich” image.
Renewal, a Tory pressure group founded this year to revive the party’s fortunes among northern, working class and ethnic minority voters, is telling David Cameron to be bolder in tackling abuse of the free market by business to ensure capitalism works for the low paid.
David Skelton, the group’s founder, said that millions of people have been priced out of the housing market and that the 300,000 homes a year target should include allowing local authorities to build more social housing. Labour has pledged to build at least 200,000 homes a year by 2020 if it regains power.
Mr Skelton told The Independent: “Voting Conservative has become counter cultural in Scotland, in some northern cities and amongst ethnic minority voters. If the Tories cannot change that, they will find it increasingly difficult to win elections with sustainable majorities. To do this, the party has to go further to show that it genuinely understands the needs of people who are likely to give the party the cold shoulder. It has to prove that it isn’t the party of the rich and big business and is instead a party for working people.”
The call reflects Tory concern that Ed Miliband’s “responsible capitalism” agenda is striking an echo with voters, with proposals such as a temporary freeze in energy prices allowing Labour to portray the Tories as the “friends of big business”.
Renewal wants the Tories to show they are “on the side” of the low paid and believes they are still paying a price for opposing the Labour Government’s decision to bring in the national minimum wage in 1998.
The group is calling for a higher minimum wage and, to allay Chancellor George Osborne’s fears that this could force companies to cut jobs, wants the impact offset by lower taxes for business.
Mr Skelton said: “The party should also be more comfortable discussing market failure and how capitalism can work for the low paid and for every part of the country.
“It should take inspiration from the great Teddy Roosevelt and become the party that champions the consumer, small business and competition, but is prepared to tackle monopolistic behaviour and abuse of market position.”
He added: “A belief in the free market as the best means of creating prosperity needs to be combined with a knowledge that this prosperity hasn’t reached everybody in society over the past decade or so. Wages haven’t kept up with prices since 2004.”
- 2 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 3 The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
- 4 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
- 5 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
The one chart that shows how George Osborne is almost certainly going to be our next Prime Minister
The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
Bono's group has made more money from Facebook investment than from all his music
Three-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jewish children told 'the non-Jews' are 'evil' in worksheet produced by London school
Wikipedia rocked by 'rogue editors' blackmail scam targeting small businesses and celebrities
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...
£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...