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Raise the dented shield

Labour did stunningly well all over the country and we have many new Labour Councils who I hope will promote a strong housing agenda: more genuinely affordable homes, regulation of the private sector, searching out a humane response to dealing with the ending of the homelessness safety net and the cuts to housing benefit.
Labour Councils will face huge difficulties with little money and a Government which is following rigidly a high rent, no rights housing policy in the desperate hope that the market will respond.  They will have to make appallingly hard choices but, as Neil Kinnock once said, better a dented shield than no shield at all.
The tragedy of London is that it is a Labour city but the Tories walked away with the spoils: the mayor holds all the housing powers and what little money is left.  It bodes ill for Londoners: there will be no shield at all for them.  Housing output will be nowhere near affordable, the proportion of earnings spent on housing will continue to rise, and the private rented sector will continue as the last unreformed and unmodernised great industry.
Andy Slaughter was spot on with his analysis of the real Tory agenda: few if any planning consents for new social rented housing; demolition without affordable replacement of social housing estates in valuable places; selling council properties without like-for-like replacement; and insecure and unaffordable new tenancies becoming commonplace in the social as well as the private rented sector.
Personally I’d rather have H’Angus the monkey as mayor than Boris Johnson.  At least H’Angus campaigned on the policy of giving children free bananas when he won Hartelepool.
We will all have our theories as to why Ken Livingstone lost against such a benign political background.  They say familiarity breeds contempt and there might be a bit of that after 40 years of seeing Ken on the London stage.  There is no doubt that Boris Johnson the personality is a phenomenon unmatched in British politics (even if he makes my skin creep).  His next target is Cameron and I’ll enjoy watching that battle unfold.  But Johnson could have been beaten.
I certainly don’t agree with Peter Kellner and Tony Travers on the BBC (why don’t they have to declare their financial interests before commenting?) that it has nothing to do with the media.  The personal vilification of Livingstone, the anti-Ken propaganda handed out to Londoners every day (called the Evening Standard), the supine broadcast media who just follow the papers wherever they go, and the overwhelmingly negative Johnson campaign, all had their impact.  The media bias sets agendas: Ken’s tax affairs became a huge and genuinely damaging issue (unfairly in my view) whilst Johnson’s extensive contacts with the Murdochs hardly got a mention.  Although at its peak it was excellent, the London Labour campaign machine seemed to take ages to get organised, with several changes of personnel.  Add the damage done by the ‘hold your nose and vote Ken’ brigade, a few genuine backstabbers (Sugar, Clarke and Labour Uncut come to mind), and the result is the narrowest of defeats.  If I can campaign for James Callaghan in 1979 and Tony Blair in 2005 these people can campaign for Ken Livingstone in 2012.  It’s called political discipline and it means, whatever you do, you don’t let the Tories in because they really hurt people.  Ken could have done better but we all could have done better, and we should have won.  Let the lessons be learned.
The one thing that cannot be disputed is Ken’s housing record.  I got annoyed by the Shelter and NHF line that the candidates weren’t talking about housing.  Ken was, from the off and every time he got to his feet.  Almost his first policy statement was about the private rented sector, the lettings agency and the London Living Rent – it was unexpected, innovative, and deserved much more coverage.
For 40 years, from Lambeth to Camden, from the GLC to the GLA, Ken has promoted housebuilding and genuinely affordable housing for Londoners.  He has never been embarrassed to talk about Council housing.  Given no housing powers and no money in 2000 when first elected mayor, Ken transformed housing prospects in London in an extraordinarily creative way, leaving in 2008 with a clear housing strategy for the capital and the biggest affordable housing programme in its history.  It was a strategy for all: he invented the whole business of intermediate housing as a planning tool to help people in the middle as well.  The achievement is nothing short of phenomenal.
This may be Ken’s last election campaign but I doubt if it is his last campaign.  If he and Boris are both one of a kind, give me Ken’s kind every time.

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56. The magic number that should condemn Boris Johnson to a huge defeat.

If policies alone decided Elections, Ken Livingstone would be romping home as the next London Mayor.
Instead he faces a photo finish with Tory Boris Johnson. ‘Look at Boris, isn’t he a laugh’ is no way to run one of the world’s five greatest cities. But his celebrity status only tells half the story: Johnson is a cunning and ambitious right wing Tory who is running an unremittingly negative campaign with such hugely powerful media support that even people on own Ken’s side start to believe some of the things that are said.
Ken has always had an extraordinary ability to define the policy needs of the moment. On fares, he saw that the need in the 1980s was to use spare capacity and get people back on the tube again; by 2000 the need was for massive investment in new services; and now in 2012 the need is to put money back into the pockets of struggling Londoners.

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Boris Johnson’s silence on ‘Affordable Rent’. Why the secrecy?

Once again Boris Johnson has refused to answer important questions about the ‘Affordable Rent’ programme in London.  Written questions by Nicky Gavron AM have failed to elicit informative or even intelligible answers to key questions such as the rents to be charged.

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Housing helps Ken pull ahead

The latest Yougov poll for London shows that Ken Livingstone has caught up and overtaken Tory Boris Johnson in the race for Mayor.
It has always seemed to me the case that the polls would turn in Ken’s favour as the campaign got under way.  Johnson has had 3 years of photo-opportunities, uncritical media coverage (witness Paxman’s pathetic so-called ‘interviews’) and orchestrated rows to distance himself from Cameron, and has developed an unparalleled degree of recognition amongst the public.  But his ability to avoid real debate on policy has left him largely unchallenged.
The latest poll only gives Johnson a lead over Ken on the grounds of charisma, where the Tory mayor’s figures have only ever been matched by Basil Brush, another mischievous character with a posh accent and manner.  Indeed you could almost imagine Boris adopting ‘Ha Ha Ha, Boom! Boom!’ as his catchphrase.  As someone remarked to me recently, Dame Edna Everage is so popular in her (?) home town of Melbourne that they named a street after her, but the people of the city would never contemplate voting her in as mayor, because charisma alone is not enough.  Ken is well ahead on ‘who has achieved more as Mayor’, being in touch with ordinary Londoners, being decisive, strong and good in a crisis, which seem to matter more.
The outcome of this election will depend on the differential turnout of the Parties’ supporters.  Affordable housing is one of the top five issues identified by Londoners, alongside crime, transport, jobs and the cost of living, and will have a great bearing on the outcome.  Many more of Ken’s supporters name affordable housing as a key issue than Johnson’s and housing seems to be a key factor in achieving the turnout that is required.
The strong headway that Ken has made comes after two big campaign policy pronouncements, on fares and on housing.  London being a city of commuters, fares is likely to have had a much bigger impact.  But Ken’s housing policies – calling for more regulation of the private rented sector, campaigning for a London Living Rent, and floating the idea of a new not-for-profit agency to link landlords and tenants – have attracted a lot of attention and have provoked debate.  As we get nearer the election, and the Tory Mayor’s housing failures become ever more apparent, it is reasonable to expect that housing will have more influence over Londoners’ voting intentions and boost Labour turnout.
As the most high profile election this year, the race to be London Mayor will have a crucial bearing on the fortunes of Ed Miliband and David Cameron.  Miliband, Ed Balls and Livingstone show every sign of working well together, and progressives in London should be hugely motivated by the possibility of dumping Johnson.  Just close your eyes and think it’s Basil Brush.

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Ken's book: wickedly droll with some good stuff about housing

With most reviews focusing on his relationships and children, I got the wrong impression
of what Ken Livingstone’s autobiography might be like.
The book’s title, ‘You can’t say that’, seemed particularly apt this week when some rather
humourless Tories in Hammersmith got upset when he said they should all be put in prison for their housing policies, adding ‘And if there’s any justice you will burn in hell and your flesh will be flayed for demons for all eternity’. Not noted for Paisley-like fire and brimstone views, and having himself been called every name under the sun by
Tories over the years, you would think even they would be able to spot a little rhetorical flourish.  Ken is, after all, ‘wickedly droll and gossipy’ according to publishers.  And it wasn’t him that compared the Government’s housing benefit policies to ‘Kosovo-style cleansing’.
The book tells the story of four decades of politics in London and Ken’s dominant part in it.  Probably best identified by his maverick role in the Labour Party, his elevation of transport policies to the top of political agendas, his key role in the winning of the Olympics and the memorable way he spoke on behalf of all Londoners after the 7/7 bombings, Ken’s 40 year record in promoting better housing is less well-known.
But it is hugely impressive nonetheless.  In Lambeth, in Camden, at the GLC and as Mayor, Ken has consistently supported – and more important, delivered – the building of more genuinely affordable homes, more family homes, and more mixed communities.  He has campaigned vigorously against bad landlords and fought to make public housing more responsive to tenants – long before it became the vogue.  He believed in proper housing strategies based on evidence and he fought for the resources necessary to implement them.
He became full time Chair of Housing in Camden in the 1970s and says he found it ‘exhilarating to be running something again’.  He gives credit to council leaders Frank Dobson and Roy Shaw for finding the resources to support council housebuilding, pointing out that ‘we were building 2,000 new homes a year, at which rate families on the waiting list would all have been rehoused within a decade.’  And his other policy priorities were all about people and not just about courting political popularity: ‘I humanised the way we treated homeless families, cut the number of those in bed and breakfast to under 20 and passed empty homes to a short life housing association.’
Fast forward to his Election as London Mayor in 2000.  The most common statement made about housing at the time was that the Mayor had few if any housing powers.  But
a combination of the imaginative use of planning powers through the London Plan and genuine leadership brought housing towards the centre of his mayoralty’s achievements.  His policies in favour of affordable homes made a huge difference to what was happening on the ground in London, changed the mind set of developers and social housing providers alike, and his ambition for the east end opened up huge opportunities for new homes in new communities in what was virtually a new city – given huge impetus by the winning of the Olympics.
Towards the end of his administration, before the forces of darkness took control of London, he tells the story of being summoned to meet Gordon Brown – with whom he had a few rows over the years – shortly after Brown succeeded Tony Blair.  The story reflects the ambition of both to invest in new homes, to create jobs and to get growth through construction.  He says: ‘Brown planned to build 3m new homes by ending Blair’s ban on building council houses.  Giving me £5bn to build 50,000 homes and the power to draw up London’s Housing Strategy and decide where to build meant that this would be London’s biggest housing programme since the 1970s.  Now I could stop boroughs agreeing housing schemes which had no affordable housing in them and insist on an increase in three- four- and five bedroom homes to 40 per cent of the total.’
Ambitious yet practical.  Principled yet pragmatic.  Housing policies that worked for the poorest but also worked for ordinary Londoners in all tenures.  Understanding London’s needs and making London’s case at every available opportunity.  And the occasional colourful phrase (rather like his opponent).  Ken deserves to run London again and to end the complacency about housing that symbolises the Johnson years.  And for people wanting a better idea about what makes Ken tick, the book’s not a bad read.
Ken Livingstone, ‘You can’t say that’, published by Faber and Faber

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Housing horrors

A new campaign launched by Ken Livingstone
Rip-off agency fees. Deposits lost unfairly. Rogue landlords evicting tenants with little notice and hiking rent with no warning.  Smashed windows, faulty locks and broken fridges not being fixed for weeks or months. Rodent infestations. Damp and mouldy bathrooms being left to rot.
These are just some of the housing horror stories Londoners renting in the capital have told me about in recent months. But I am under no illusions that there are many more out there.
Hundreds of thousands of people live in the private rented sector across London and I am determined to stand up for ordinary Londoners and improve housing for all.
In the coming months I will be setting out ambitious plans to improve the private rented sector which will be shaped by the experiences of Londoners.
I’m urging people to  tell me about their housing experiences so that if elected I can take action to improve housing for all.
You can leave your story on my website (click on the link at the top of the page), or get in touch on my facebook page, or on twitter using the hashtag #housinghorrors
Ken Livingstone

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Housing will define the London Mayoral election

Housing was one of Ken Livingstone’s success stories. Despite starting with very few housing powers and responsibilities, Livingstone skilfully used his planning powers and his leadership to promote housebuilding, especially on the major sites in the east of the capital, and to raise the proportion of homes built that are affordable.
Policies such as the target that 50 per cent of all homes built should be affordable; development should wherever possible be mixed tenure; there should be a larger share of family-sized homes – were allied to growing influence over central government’s housing capital expenditure leading to London’s biggest ever affordable housing budget.
Although the recession had a serious impact on private sector output, by 2008, when Boris Johnson took over, the prospects for housing in London were better than they had been for a generation.
Johnson’s policies, like those of the government, are highly ideological and damaging. There will be virtually no new social rented housing and the existing social rented stock will be reduced.
What little money is left after 60% cuts will be channelled into the so-called ‘Affordable Rent’ programme at rents of up to 80% of market rents. Johnson’s revised London Plan removes many of the policies that were most effective.
There has been no mitigation of the “Kosovo-style social cleansing” – to use Johnson’s own words – that will result from their housing benefit policies and the total benefit cap.
The prospect is that, were he to win, a new Livingstone mayoralty will spend three of its four years under the coalition, so the approach will have to be a mix of pragmatic policy and campaigning.
There are things the new Mayor can do to relieve the situation and champion London’s interests. A detailed report from the newly-formed London Labour Housing Group sets out what they might be.
For example:
• Limited funds can be identified to start a programme of social rented housing again, especially using public land;
• The 50% affordable rule – supported by the inspectors who assessed Johnson’s new plan – could be re-introduced;
• More pro-active planning with an emphasis on mixed communities and not
ghettoisation would challenge developers;

• A London-wide empty homes strategy could bring thousands of homes back into use;
• A new charter for private renting could engage tenants and landlords in a serious attempt to professionalise the sector and improve standards;
• The Mayor can push financial institutions into better mortgage policies for first time buyers and mortgage deposit guarantee schemes that could make a big difference for a lot of people;
• A new monitoring unit could track households being forced by the housing benefit changes to move across London, using the information to make sure poor and vulnerable people do not lose contact with essential services, social services support, schooling, and so on;
• A much bigger emphasis on co-operative and mutual solutions to housing needs, including Community Land Trusts.
Another vital role for a new Labour Mayor, were he to win, will be to prepare for a new Labour government in 2015, were Ed Miliband to be elected prime minister.
Livingstone has good relationships with Miliband and Ed Balls and a lot of preparatory work could go in to a new housing programme which should be at the centre of Labour’s economic, health and community re-building agendas as well as housing.
He should champion London’s interests through high-profile campaigning for a better housing deal – more genuinely affordable homes, less draconian benefit policies, mixed communities throughout London, the idea of a London Living Rent to match the London Living Wage.
There are a lot of ideas around at present for Livingstone to build on for the campaign to beat Johnson – from the Green party’s Jenny Jones AM, the Pro-Housing Alliance, the London Assembly Housing and Planning Committee, and now London Labour Housing Group have all produced serious proposals that deserve to be taken up.
Livingstone’s housing record was a good one; Johnson’s is dreadful. The task for progressives is to convince Londoners they can vote for a better way next May.
This post has also been published on Left Foot Forward.
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Boris Johnson’s housing strategy: it’s all smoke and mirrors

When you strip away the froth and the gimmicks, the more Boris Johnson publishes about his housing strategy for London the more it looks like a plan for the gentrification of large areas of the capital.  No more social housing funded from his London pot, just ‘affordable rent’ at much higher rents.  An end to the ‘50% affordable’ target in housing development.
No social rent targets set for the boroughs.  No mitigation of the government’s Local Housing Allowance caps and the cap on total benefits, which even he fears might lead to ‘Kosovo-style cleansing’ of poor people from some parts of the city.
Johnson’s recently published London Plan, which will determine development over the next decade, has been well critiqued by Labour’s Nicky Gavron in the Guardian. She shows how the plan’s overall housing target is inadequate to meet London’s needs, but reserves her strongest criticisms for his policies for social housing and Johnson’s decision to remove Ken Livingstone’s planning policy that 50% of new homes should be affordable
and that, of those, 70% should be for social rent.  These policies were based on detailed
assessments of housing need and the capacity of sites to deliver, and were beginning to have real effect.  They were also supported by the independent Inspector responsible for
investigating Johnson’s proposals.  All the inspector’s key recommendations have been ignored or over-ridden by Johnson and Eric Pickles, it appears on ideological grounds.
Why smoke and mirrors?  Well, Johnson talks the talk but he walks a very different walk.  He may be a card, but he is at heart a highly ideological Tory.  Just like his fellow Bullingdon boy, David Cameron, the compassionate talk and the occasionally progressive idea hide the harsh market-driven policy.  For example, despite saying that he didn’t want London to become like Paris “where the less well off are pushed out to the suburbs” his plan proposes building market housing in areas where there is a lot of social housing to provide a better mix but then fails to ensure that social housing will be built in areas of mainly market housing to create more mixed communities everywhere.  It seems nowhere
is appropriate for social housing.  He gives the go-ahead to his friends in the boroughs to remove social housing in so-called regeneration schemes, homes that will not be adequately replaced.  Taken together with the government’s housing benefit policies, we now have a fully fledged policy of removing social housing, failing to build any more, and encouraging the social segregation of the city.  His policies will make London like Paris but
Why smoke and mirrors?  Well, just published, his latest consultation document – Initial Proposals for a Revised London Housing Strategy continues to claim credit for the delivery of social rented homes as if he really cares about having a balanced housing programme.  Housing development is a very long process and the social rented homes he’s talking about are mainly the completion of those that were started under the programme for 2008-11 that was set by Ken Livingstone and the Labour government before leaving office.
Why smoke and mirrors?  To understand the mayor’s real housing policy we have to look at his first unfettered decisions – the new programme for 2011-2015 – which virtually excludes funding for new social rented homes.  Any new social rented homes that get built in future will either be subsidy-free (for example as a result of s.106 agreements) or will be built with local borough subsidy (eg through free land) or directly by the councils themselves.  Johnson replaces homes for social rent with housing at ‘affordable rent’ levels (up to 80% of market rents).  He claims in his document that this is a great achievement – providing ‘affordable’ homes with far lower levels of public subsidy.  Magic.  But the truth is that the rents are not affordable, the cost is transferred to the occupier or, if the occupier is eligible, onto the housing benefit bill.  It is a less direct and less efficient way of providing homes.  Despite the government’s protestations that it wants to make it easier to get into work, the scheme’s high rents make it harder.
Throughout, the real aim, to ‘marketise’ housing and remove social housing as a concept, is hidden from public view.
And the man with a shock of white hair, a top hat, a few jokes and a droopy magic wand, releases the blue smoke, flashes the bright lights and deploys the mirrors.  The trick is complete.
Cue applause.  Or catcalls – because he’s been rumbled.

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What is it about our society that can make such things possible?

There are some similarities between what has happened in Tottenham over the past few days and the riot of 1985.  Both were triggered by a death during a police operation and a family demanding answers about what happened, followed by a march on Tottenham Police station and people feeling ignored and disrespected.  Then, crowds gathered on Broadwater Farm estate which became the venue for the subsequent riot.  The riot had nothing to do with the estate, it was about policing, and the location could equally have been Tottenham High Road then as now.  But the pressure cooker exploded and the appalling, and I believe still unsolved, mob murder of PC Blakelock cemented the notoriety of the estate.
Talking our way through hundreds of riot police, three of us opened the Broadwater farm Neighbourhood Office at 7am the following morning, dealing with many terrified people.
Teams of council staff arrived spontaneously and began the clean up.  Shops and cars had been burned out but there was remarkably little damage to the residential parts of the estate – extraordinarily, the glaziers were hardly needed – although the impact on residents’ morale was palpable.
Local politicians and neighbourhood staff were outstanding in the aftermath, and especially Bernie Grant, who showed enormous courage in the face of a despicable media campaign of vilification.  He devoted many years of his life afterwards to making the Farm, and the wider Tottenham area, good places to live and strong communities.  He eventually got the relationship between the community and the police onto a new footing.
Everything that has been said about the criminality of the current riots, the appalling firesetting and looting, is fair comment.  There are a large number of people, many very
young, who have done very bad things and they should be arrested for them as soon as they are identified.  It hurts, but we have to understand that many of the rioters have done this to their own communities; it is not good enough to say it was all done by people from somewhere else.
It will take a long time for communities to recover, but there were signs all over the news today of councils responding magnificently and communities pulling together and supporting each other.  I have been struck by the many interviews with community activists and leaders who are stunningly articulate about what is happening in their areas, why things have been going wrong, and what needs to be done.  They give the lie to the
many derogatory things that are said about working class areas.  In many cases they are already the Big Society but without the resources and wherewithal to withstand the tsunami of post-recession policies that have caused hope and aspiration to evaporate.
A twin track approach is needed.  Obviously the police response has to be better and the community deserves to be better protected.  Cuts to police numbers should be withdrawn.  There will be many operational lessons to be learned, especially when so many communities come under attack at the same time.  What is so different from 1985 is the speed with which the rioting spread through so many different areas across London and further.  The blackberry phenomenon needs to be understood for the future, the police seemed clueless in the face of it.
But those that can only condemn and talk of clampdowns and state retribution are making a big mistake.  Even Mrs Thatcher sent out Michael Heseltine to find out what was happening in Liverpool after the Toxteth riots.  Boris Johnson hasn’t got a clue.  His one
dimensional response, repeated by David Cameron, about ‘sheer criminality’ is just not good enough, and Ken Livingstone is much more sure-footed and grounded in reality when big issues like this arise.
If it has no other dimension than criminality, if it has nothing to do with economic and social conditions, and policing, why has it happened now?  Is it completely unrelated to the closure of youth centres, the removal of EMA, rising youth unemployment, and rising numbers of young people being stopped and searched on the streets, which they see as harassment and disrespect?  If poor communities are constantly accused (even by some Labour politicians) of fecklessness, worthlessness (to the point of being told they shouldn’t have children if they can’t afford them) and scrounging, and a feeling of hopelessness is added by the unfair and unequal impact of the recession, is it a surprise that the outcome is a destructive form of alienation that eventually expresses itself in violence?
If bankers ruin the global economy then earn millions in new bonuses, if politicians and policemen are perceived to be on the make (even if most aren’t), if a media empire indulges in criminality as a matter of routine, if we only measure worth in material possessions, we should be traumatised but not astonished when youth also display heartless avarice and grab what they can.  Maybe Laurie Penny is right when she wrote in her blog last night that “people riot because it makes them feel powerful, if only for a night.”
For the future, we should take our lead from the dignified comments of the furniture store owner, distraught at the loss of his building, which had served the local community for 150 years, who was right to condemn but also had the perspicacity to ask why, what is it about our society that can make such things possible?

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Housing policy will lead the way for Labour, says Livingstone

Labour’s housing policy will help lead the country out of the ‘turgid economic trough’ being created by the Tories, Ken Livingstone told a packed London Labour Housing Group conference on Saturday.  ‘Investment to create 100,000 new homes would create three-quarters of a million jobs’ the mayoral candidate told the conference, called to debate housing policies for London to be included in next year’s manifesto. 
Describing the fight for the mayoralty as a ‘mid-term election’ Ken argued that Labour needed to redefine housing policy as a key part of economic policy as well as being important in itself in meeting the housing needs of low and middle income Londoners.  One of the jobs of the new mayor will be to draw up a major programme of housebuilding ready for the return of a Labour government. 
The Tories have abandoned the idea of mixed communities in London, he said, but Labour will always build a mix of homes for a mix of people on a wide range of incomes, just as it had done in the past.  Ken also reminded the conference that effective campaigns on housing had forced major u-turns from both the Heath and Thatcher governments and could do so again with the coalition. 
Karen Buck MP, shadow minister for welfare reform, told the conference that the Tory government’s policies in the Localism and Welfare Reform Bills would have a huge impact on London and could force tens of thousands of people to move – all searching for cheaper areas.  The policies would also be counter-productive – leading to higher rents in all tenures and far greater homelessness – making it impossible for them to make their savings.
Karen said that the policies directly contradicted the Tories’ claim that they wanted to incentivise people to get back to work.  They had almost completely forgotten that housing benefit is also an in-work benefit  – over 40% of people receiving local housing allowance were in work in some boroughs – the losses would make it impossible for many of them to remain in work. 
Setting the context for the conference, Nicky Gavron AM, Labour’s housing and planning lead on the London Assembly, said that more and more people were seeing housing as a key battleground for the mayoral election.  The difference between the two mayors could not be more stark.  Ken’s legacy was strong, Nicky argued.  There was a strong planning framework, the best housing record since the 1970s, the highest level of capital investment ever and a massive land bank ready for development.  Johnson had squandered this inheritance and virtually all his housing claims could be dated back to Ken’s administration.  He was undermining the planning system, scrapping Ken’s targets especially the 50% affordable target and the emphasis on social rented homes.  The government’s own inspector had criticised Johnson’s polices, saying his targets were too low, he should keep the 50% London-wide affordable housing target, and should support social rented housing provision.  Johnson caved in to his Tory friends in the boroughs, allowing them to cut affordable housing.  Only the Labour boroughs are keeping London’s affordable housebuilding going. 
The conference, with representatives from all areas of London, inner and outer, debated a series of detailed policy proposals for the manifesto, including policies to increase housing supply, to meet the needs of the poorest and most socially excluded households, to help the ‘squeezed middle’, and to guarantee the future of social housing in the capital.  The policies will be developed further before the manifesto is published.   
Labour Party members interested in joining the Labour Housing Group should follow this link.  London members interested in the work of London LHG should contact