The Blue Wall and Planning Reform

Very interesting article by Henry Hill in CONHOME today.

As the party focuses on broadening its appeal to a new coalition of voters, it risks alienating parts of its traditional base.

This is the basis for what some are starting to call the ‘Blue Wall’: more than 40 constituencies “which have been held by the Conservatives since at least 2010, where Labour or the Liberal Democrats have overperformed their national swing in 2017 and 2019 and where the Conservative majority is below 10,000”, as Matthew Goodwin explains. If CCHQ isn’t careful, these could follow those London seats where the party was competitive, or even won, in 2010 but is deep underwater now….

Some results from the weekend, such as the Conservatives’ loss of control in Cambridgeshire, are already being held up as examples of this trend, which as our Editor reported yesterday were described by one pollster as “big red flashes which under someone better than Starmer could cause chaos”….

Down the line, this would have implications for general elections if London overspill and sky-high house prices see more seats follow Brighton and Canterbury into the Labour column – a prospect which is reportedly already concerning Tory MPs.

But will it be enough to spook those MPs into doing what’s necessary to fix it? The Government is right to believe that its hold on the ‘Red Wall’ rests on expanding home ownership. But it has so far failed to overcome the self-interest of southern MPs and get them accept the blunt fact that the same thing is true of the ‘Blue Wall’ too. Somehow, ministers need to get sufficient houses built to put home ownership and family formation within reach of young professionals.

There is little doubt that home ownership and political allegiances are closely correlated. Higher home ownership rates east of the Pennines seem to explain much of the difference in conservative support to west and this factor seems to become more and more important as family allegiances based on traditional industrial jobs become more and more historic.

In London we see a churn as people move to ROSE pushing house prices up and locals pushed into renting, with only minor changes to the overall dwelling stock.

This explanation helps explain underlying allegiences, however at the very local level we get the ‘homevoter’ phenomenon, people don’t vote to push down house prices. So for example in Kent as a whole high prices weaken traditional conservative allegiances but if you live next to a proposed new settlement you are more likely to vote the party proposing it down.

Also the very fractured nature of the political left leaves a complex patchwork of who the opposition is, Green, LibDem, independent or Labour depending where you live. Also voters might share increasing environmental concerns but not necessarily share the ‘degrowth’ ‘stop build build build’ agenda of many of the localised indpendent/coalition avocado NIMBY set whose agendas are rarely progressive.

Class still matters, but the source class is now different as rent becomes increasingly important as a factor income as land allocated for development become more scarce.

One thought on “The Blue Wall and Planning Reform

  1. Nice to see such a cogent analysis coming from these Tories. But so long as they act as though pumping up developer profits and house prices would somehow bring prices down and affordability up they will dig themselves into an ever-deeper hole. Those of us who are socialists should be delighted, though it’s a lot of suffering to put up with.

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