Dave's no answer to Labour with crazy home plan; What do you think? Write to George Tyndale, Sunday Mercury, Floor 6, Fort Dunlop, Fort Parkway, Birmingham B24 9FF, or email email@example.com.
Byline: GEORGE TYNDALE
WE'RE facing a homes famine.
Well over 1.7 million names are already gathering dust on waiting lists for somewhere to live.
And as homes are repossessed in the recession hundreds more are added every day.
Meanwhile, building starts are as low as they were in 1945 and the Government's empty pledge to build just 45,000 new homes a year by 2011 is falling way behind target.
But then this is a national scandal brought about entirely by New Labour mismanagement and incompetence (the waiting list has doubled during the past ten years).
So when, at last, the Tories said they were unveiling a major new housing strategy we had a right to expect something dramatic.
An end to the Right To Buy policy perhaps? After all, it is Margaret Thatcher's scheme that has massively reduced the number of homes in what we now call "social housing" and created desperate sink estates in which those with the worst social, health and employment problems have been jammed together.
A major building programme surely? We have an army of skilled building workers out of a job.
Putting the bricklayers and the chippies back to work to create desperately need homes has to make sense, doesn't it? Or what about slamming the brakes on mass immigration which is creating an astonishing demand for 99,000 new homes a year? The new Tory plan turned out to be none of these.
Instead, it's a half-baked embellishment of Right to Buy which has been dubbed the Right To Move.
It means that if you have been living in a social housing property for at least five years and you fancy a move, you can force whoever owns your home - the local council or a housing association - to sell it and buy you a new one wherever you want to go.
So if you are living in Dudley and you want to live beside the sea in, say, Dover then the council in the Midlands will have to find and purchase a property for you on the south coast.
Imagine the stifling bureaucracy and complexities this one move alone would involve.
How many properties would Dudley have to show you to ensure you were happy? And how many deals would fall through? Then when you've moved out, the council is supposed to sell your empty house to recover the cost of the Dover home.
Meanwhile, it has to pay Dover to maintain your new home.
What's so utterly alarming about this Tory plan is not just that it's such a pif- fling, problematic and pitiful response to a monstrous problem.
No, it is what it tells us about David
Cameron and this country's terrible plight.
After all, it's not a question of whether he gets elected.
Brown has to go and we have no choice about a replacement.
The door to that famous bit of social housing in Downing Street is standing half-open.
So where are the dynamic, workable policy ideas that will drag us out of the New Labour mire? Up to now we have just had to believe that Mr C and his shadow cabinet have a secret stash of brilliant new initiatives and are just biding their time to unveil all of them.
But when you are confronted by the likes of the Right To Move, you begin to have second thoughts.
If this feeble notion is the best the Tories can do on the massive housing crisis, how much use are they going to be on rebuilding our shattered economy, restructuring the banking industry, or reshaping the struggling manufacturing sector? And, of course, we need to know what big plans do the Tories have for reviving the NHS.
When it comes time for the Right to Move, will they be up to the job?