I suppose I should feel excited. We are almost into the second week of a brave new experiment in British politics –a coalition government in which we get the best of all possible worlds, or the worst of all unbelievable compromises.
I’m thinking here of Vince Cable, revealed over the weekend as the secret mentor of the PM that was, as business secretary with a big say in the future shape of British banking, and Will Hutton, author of the State We’re In and other exercises in economic wishful thinking, having a major input on senior civil servants’pay.
Of course it might prove to be that two parties are better than one, rather than one of too many cooks spoil the broth, and anything is arguably better than life under Brown –except, as some feminist observers have pointed out, talented women are rather under-represented in the new regime and, with the mortgage business in mind, neither the Liberal Democrats nor the Tories seem to have much of a grip on housing issues.
Clegg, if you recall from the TV leadership debates, wanted to free up empty homes, and Cameron talked of devolving planning back to local communities.
Indeed, housing issues, like a feminist agenda, don’t seem to figure in the new regime’s political priorities.
Grant Chapps, the new housing minister, unlike his New Labour predecessors such as Caroline Flint, Margaret Beckett, and Yvette Cooper, isn’t even a member of the cabinet team though based on their track record he doesn’t have that much to live up to.
True, New Labour might have succeeded in building its target of three million new houses by 2020 if a global financial crisis hadn’t intervened and you can’t blame New Labour’s poor track record on housing on the gender of three of the nine housing ministers they appointed over 14 years.
As a centralist regime, it was just better at planning than execution and if Flint hadn’t been so gaff prone and Beckett hadn’t been caught out claiming at least £106,000 in second home allowances while living in grace and favour home and renting out her London flat, the ministerial turnover rate might have been just a tad more acceptable.
But that was yesterday’s Brave New World. In today’s, which combines the worldly wisdom of Vince Cable with that of George Osborne, we now have the threat of a hike of 22% in capital gains tax that is unnerving the buy-to-let market.
With a shortage of buy-to-let properties and rental demand increasing because of a growth in the number of households and the inability of young people to get on the housing ladder, such plans don’t auger too well for the future but with a mortgage funding crisis hanging over the industry like the sword of Damocles, it’s got to be case of carrying on regardless.