News from the National Housing Federation of a prediction that 2009/10 will see the smallest number of houses built since 1923 comes as no surprise to those of us familiar with market weaknesses. The lesson for Labour election strategists is that we have to go to the electorate with credible promises. We can demonstrate how Labour in government can no longer rely on market forces. Labour can show it is intervening to lift new starts now. And we need to offer bold commitments to build large numbers of affordable units wherever they are needed to reduce waiting lists, create jobs )mopping up slack in the construction industry), and training anew to keep pace with labour market shortages of skilled trades people. Tory Councils holding up house building, and /or refusing to insist on at least 50% affordbale social housing igrantin planning permission should be exposed for denying people affordable homes.
Of course, Conservative 'shadow' housing minister Grant Shapps claims the data is "another failed Labour statistic". No, more a load of Shappstrap - it's a failed Blairite/New Labour statistic. That's why I remain puzzled by the idea that Tony Blair who vetoed council house building as Prime Minister can be of any help to Labour in the forthcoming election.
I just hope these NHF figures are a further reminder to Prime Minister Gordon Brown to reposition Labour as the party of government that intervenes in markets to ensure people's needs are met.