Once you get past the discussion of Natalie Bennett’s media performance, one of the most common responses I’ve heard to the Green Party of England and Wales’ housing proposals is, “But why do we need to built new houses when there are so many sitting empty right now?”
Thankfully, there are signs that the Greens are already thinking about this in the policy briefing in question:
We will also reform property and land taxes to curb speculation and excessive demand, bring more empty homes back into use and convert empty municipal buildings where appropriate, provide tenants with much greater security of tenure and stabilising rent controls, diversify the building industry, insist that landlords improve the energy efficiency of their homes, and begin to rebalance economic prosperity in the UK to reduce demand in London and the south east. Details of these policies will be in our full manifesto.
That’s not an information-heavy paragraph, granted, but it ends with the suggestion that there’s more to come on this subject.
As always, it’s important to remember that there’s no one policy that will sort everything out for good. The refusal to seek “magic bullet” solutions is one of the things that made Common Weal so appealing to me during the referendum campaign, and the Green parties’ commitment to, for example, both a £10 living wage and Citizen’s Income is evidence that they are equally aware of quite how hard it is to implement real change.
Too often we allow the conversation of these issues to be limited to a confrontation between the way things are and one big idea that will change everything.