John Armstrong’s take on Labour’s housing policy, announced by David Shearer at the Labour Party conference, is as follows:
For the first time in a very long time, Labour has come up with something radical on the policy front which may grab the public’s attention, if not imagination – and which National cannot really get away with copying.
Armstrong makes a number of interesting comments:
Labour easily trumped National’s limp response to the Productivity Commission’s report on the provision of affordable housing….
National’s response to the affordability crisis was to be seen to be wringing its hands. In contrast, Labour is rolling up its sleeves…..
Labour is being bold. Like the push for a capital gains tax, the housing promise is a break from Labour’s immediate past of playing safe and finding excuses for not doing things….
It is what the housing policy says about Labour’s direction which is possibly as important as the policy itself. It shows Labour regaining its soul….
He notes the political advantages for Labour;
It also pushes many political buttons to Labour’s advantage.
It will appeal to middle-income voters congregated in the political centre, especially those worried that they or younger relatives will never get on the home-ownership ladder. Those voters worried about Labour being profligate with taxpayers dollars will be comforted by knowing the $1.5 billion will be designated as capital and thus will not slow the country’s return to budget surplus.
What the capital injection will provide is stimulus to a sluggish economy. The 10-year programme will provide some certainty to an industry which has notoriously been victim to boom-bust cycles. The increase of building activity dovetails with Labour’s long-held preference for an effective apprenticeship system while at the same time cutting back youth unemployment.
The policy is also an answer to the anti-poverty lobby which argues not enough is being done to lift the quality of the housing stock.
Armstrong comments that “in terms of ideological renewal and momentum, Labour is starting to get it right.”
I agree; I’m already getting good feedback about it on the golf course – and I think it might well be a topic for the Christmas barbecues.
Watch this space.