The Department for Communities and Local Government came in for criticism yesterday from the communities and local government committee, who said the DCLG had only taken ‘the first steps’ towards a reasonable performance, and that their eco-town programme was ‘clearly in some difficulty’. Well, fair enough. Must be a somewhat difficult department to run what with the housing market having collapsed, and the eco-town project was always going to be ambitious; but you’d expect a bit more than ‘first steps’ from a department over two years old, and they really need to pull their collective fingers out if they’re going to sort out the housing shortage. So, yeah. Get on it, Hazel.
The absurdity – as ever – comes from the Tories, and specifically from their reaction to the report’s references to the government’s Home Information Pack scheme. The Tories have always had it in for Hips, and Caroline Spelman has up the opportunity to deride Hips as a ‘failure’. Let’s be clear – overreaction there. The home information packs provide new homeowners with information which (amongst other things) could help them save money on energy bills – hardly useless when everyone’s feeling the pinch. The backbenchers criticised the DCLG for the scheme’s ‘mishandled introduction’ and said that the department was ‘struggling to perfect’ Hips, they nevertheless welcomed indications that ministers were determined to help homebuyers by improving the scheme.
But if you think Caroline Spelman is overreacting, take a look at Lord Hyperbole of Walkden. Cllr Lindley will miss no opportunity to have a go at Hazel Blears, so there’s nothing particularly surprising in his latest post – except, once again, the sentence specifically about Hips. “HIPS,” he says, “are an expensive nuisance to home-sellers [home-buyers, it seems, can fuck right off] and must have played their part in dragging the market down even further.”
A little context here. Cllr Lindley and the rest, it seems, of the Conservative Party, have spent all week mocking Gordon Brown for going to America – on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and some sad little widget I refuse to link to about wanting the Prime Minister to apologise for single-handedly causing the global recession.
It’s an interesting little pattern of behaviour in opposition. Cllr Lindley definitely doesn’t really think the housing market crashed because the government made homesellers pay for information packs. No-one in the Conservative Party genuinely expected Gordon Brown to spend his first visit to Obama’s White House bitching and whining to the superpower about how they should magically go back in time and prevent the crash in subprime lending. None of them even seriously disagree that the recession did begin in America. But they don’t have anything to say that would make themselves sound like a credible alternative to the government. Because they’re not. This pointless whinging is all they have. It’s actually a bit sad.