As funny as it may have been to see the Prime Minister handed a fake P45, to have the letters of her party’s conference slogan fall from the wall while she was speaking and for the consequences of her deciding to tackle the speech despite a bout of conference flu (of which I have been a recent victim), I’d have rather the whole thing went off without a hitch.
There are two reasons for this: the first is that the issues we are dealing with as a country right now are serious and this sort of mocking/trivializing of politics at a time when real debate is needed doesn’t help anyone. The second is that it distracted from the fact that without any of these things having happened, that was one of the worst conference speeches ever delivered by a sitting Prime Minister. Clearly we are now left with a Government which while it is still in office can think of nothing to do or even to say and the most obvious example of this was the non-announcement on housing.
I am genuinely angry about the housing announcement. All day we were teased that they were about to take a serious step forward in delivering new affordable housing. Yet instead of announcing that they were raising the HRA cap, changing the rules on Right to Buy or unleashing a new generation of real New Town building, what did we get? £2bn, enough for 19 units per council. Crawley Borough Council alone is building 250 new affordable properties a year, it’s as much as we can manage with the land and the money we have and yet we know it’s half what is needed. The PM might as well not have made any announcement on it at all, the amount is so insultingly out of touch with the reality faced by those trying to find somewhere they can afford to live and the councils trying to support them.
Coincidentally, at the time the Prime Minister was speaking I was attending the opening of ten new units of temporary affordable housing in Southgate brought forward jointly by Crawley Borough Council and Raven Housing Trust. Instead of posturing councils are actually delivering housing for local people, it’s time the Government learned to do likewise.