1/16/2020

Blue-Collar Conservatism in Britain?

"And Britain fails to build houses where they’re needed most. As Paul Cheshire of the London School of Economics points out, housebuilding trends run contrary to economic logic. Reviewing a 40-year comparison of the shrinking towns of Barnsley and Doncaster with the university cities of Cambridge and Oxford, Cheshire found that the struggling localities—despite their economic disadvantages—built almost twice as many homes as the prosperous ones. Restrictionists often blame rising costs on predatory buy-to-let landlords, the empty houses of the superrich, and loose monetary policy, but in this case, the simplest explanation is the most plausible: housing supply hasn’t kept up with housing demand. 

For too long, Conservative prime ministers delivered dire diagnoses of Britain’s housing crisis, then avoided addressing the issue. David Cameron instigated “Help to Buy,” a mortgage-subsidy scheme that worsened the problem that it was designed to solve. Theresa May labelled the housing-affordability problem a “burning injustice” but lacked the political will or capital to do anything about it. With his new political mandate, Johnson has no excuse not to act decisively. Loosening the U.K.’s housing rules would also encourage pro-market Conservatives, who have expressed concern about Johnson’s brand of One Nation Conservatism."