In Defence of Lord Freud

Published 18th October here by Breitbart London

How do we value a person’s contribution? Is it by their productive capacity or their productive performance, or is it by the person’s time and intent to contribute? Do we attempt to measure their intrinsic worth as a human being or their economic worth in the productive economy?

The remarks by an unpaid Minister, Lord Freud, who has now been removed from front bench duties, have caused uproar in the commons. His crime? To accept that, in some circumstances, private companies should be able to circumvent draconian minimum wage legislation in order to make employing a section of disabled people financially viable.
This could improve the lives of society’s most vulnerable immeasurably, opening up opportunities to the world of work and infinite positive benefits to self-esteem and general fulfilment that employment brings. And yet, because Lord Freud is a Conservative, the remarks have been deliberately misconstrued and used as a weapon to damage Cameron by Labour, the political party that is ostensibly on the side of the most vulnerable.

In defence of Lord Freud, he has at no point suggested that disabled people are intrinsically worth less than their able-bodied counterparts. He has not suggested that – even if less economically productive than an average able-bodied equivalent – they deserve to receive a lesser financial recompense for their labour. There is no hint of discrimination. Merely a recognition of differing capabilities amongst individuals to do work, and the value of that work to an employer.

What Lord Freud has done is make an off-the-cuff and rather brave, albeit unwise, acquiescence toward a novel idea posed by a Conservative Party Conference delegate to placate the difficulties faced by some disabled people when seeking work. He has dared to suggest that it is not always a financially positive decision for private companies to employ people with certain disabilities at minimum wage when they could, for the same price, employ a more productive person without a disability. In this economic climate we cannot expect the private sector to act as a collection of charities. Through his oh-so-briefly considered comments, Lord Freud accepted the notion that, in order to raise the percentage of disabled people in work, which remains stubbornly fixed at around 50 percent, the government may step in to support the private sector, allowing companies to pay disabled individuals below minimum wage which would in turn be subsidised by the government. Hardly the face of heartless Conservatism, despite Labour’s best efforts to take the shine off yesterday’s positive unemployment figures.

In reality we are talking of an economically compassionate approach to helping people who find employment opportunities extremely hard to find. This is not about a choice between work at minimum wage and work at a reduced wage. This is about some disabled people getting work at all or staying in care, or at home, sadly unproductive and without the pride that work brings. By demanding the minimum wage for all Mencap and all the others in the chorus are in fact condemning economically and socially productive people to a life of hand outs and reduced self-esteem.

David Cameron, in his infinite weakness in the face of a surprisingly effective Commons ambush by Milliband has distanced himself from Lord Freud’s comments. Lord Freud has been pushed to make a full and frank apology for his “foolish and offensive” remarks and today he was demoted. Once again, Labour have exploited the vulnerable for their own gain, while damaging the reputation of a decent peer with a valuable business background, rare in politics, in the process. If given proper consideration, it’s ideas like this that could give a well needed boost to those who have a disability and are struggling to find work in the productive economy. His choice of words may have been but if the problem here is one of offence, of the risk of making disabled people feel under-valued, then his gaffe surely shouldn’t be used for political point scoring by the political left.

In this political climate we call for the heads of politicians all too easily. Lord Freud isn’t a career politician; it is highly unlikely that he has received the sort of media and public relations training that allows one to instinctively shut one’s mouth before something clumsy and open to deliberate misinterpretation spills out. I personally believe that it is people like Lord Freud who are – or were – willing to debate novel ideas to make people’s lives better and more fulfilling, who could make those strong employment figures better yet and improve the lives of thousands in the process. Our politicians must be allowed to debate contentious issues and make mistakes without living in fear of witch hunts by the media and the opposition, or we will be forever stuck in this current trend of tinkering around the edges on major policy issues rather than thinking outside the box and breaking boundaries.

In the midst of this furore there are some commentators seriously proposing that an employer, in order to employ someone with severe learning difficulties should also employ a full time mentor to assist them These people have obviously never had to read a balance sheet or had to compete in the highly competitive economic circumstances that the political failures of the last 10 years have created. Labour might shout and scream but what innovative suggestions, pray tell, have they? None.

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Politics is Finally Becoming Fun Again

Published 3rd October by Breitbart London

Of all the opportunities my accidental career in politics and such have afforded me, one of the greatest pleasures remains giving talks to sixth form pupils.

This morning I addressed a group of 16-18 year olds at University College School, a gorgeous independent in Hampstead, North West London, on the themes of politics and change. I spoke of my own journey through politics from Conservative Future to UKIP to a different career path altogether and tried to convey the message that change is no bad thing.
One doesn’t always take the right or most suitable path the first time and if you want to succeed and fulfil your own potential you mustn’t be afraid to take risks or change your mind; what is important is sticking to your principles, surrounding yourself with good people and not trying to please everyone at all times – it isn’t possible and you lose part of yourself in the process.
Oh, and always employ a decent accountant. For me, those principles include a commitment to small government, low taxes, self-government and freedom, which is why I left Cameron’s Conservatives for UKIP. It was a truly fun hour with a Q&A session that posed some rather challenging questions and I came away from it deeply impressed with UCS and the intelligence and charm of its pupils.

I also realised the extent to which UKIP still has an image problem with many young people; they must try desperately hard to shift its image as a party of racists because, frankly, they are not and it’s a lazy and inaccurate criticism.
This morning also highlighted a recent fundamental shift in British politics. Not from left to right, but from ultimately dull and predictable to actually rather fun again.

Not for years has politics been as interesting as it is right now. After decades of a two party system and the first few years of a pseudo-comfortable Coalition with an entirely ineffective opposition, change is afoot and the stakes are high.
Those of us who care for such larks are spoilt for choice; in the past month alone there has been the Scottish referendum, two MP defections sparking two of three upcoming by elections, the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition forgetting the biggest political and economic issue of our time, an eventful conference season, poll ratings all over the shop, entirely unpredictable local government results and a government minister referring to Nick Clegg as a w*nker.

On the issue of Scotland, the meteoric rise of the SNP over the past decade managed to inspire 97 percent of the populace to register to vote, with an unprecedented 84.5 percent of them turning out to cast their vote.
Labour’s stranglehold on our cousins north of the border has been quashed. There are similar scenes in the north of England; in the key Labour safe seat of Heywood and Middleton UKIP are polling 35 percent and rumour has it Labour are throwing the kitchen sink in fear.

A recent poll found that just 0.7 percent said they would vote Labour because of their faith in Ed Miliband, whereas 61.2 percent will back Labour because they always have. Tribal loyalties are breaking down; a decade or so ago that figure would have been more like 80 percent, although I can’t help thinking that, despite this drop, it’s a little depressing that a full 30 percent of the constituency would vote for the proverbial pig with a red rosette.

Read the rest here

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UKIP Conference

Published 26th September by Breitbart London

ukip rosettes

Conference season is in full swing. For a few days each through September and early October, the four main British political parties and their accompanying army of press, lobbyists and the occasional delegate embark en masse to far-flung English cities for prolonged boozing and debauchery. Policies are unveiled, initiatives launched, but what every politico remembers of conference season, whatever the party, venue or year, is the four day hangover and inevitable post-conference flu.

The power of a conference to set the tone with which a party is reported by the media and, consequently, viewed by the public, shouldn’t be ignored especially so close to a General Election. A successful conference coupled with a brilliant key-note speech from the leader can shore up a party’s popularity and voter confidence, while the immense pressure exacerbates any meltdown. No one will be quite so aware of this right now than Ed Miliband.

Last weekend, the hapless Labour leader wreaked havoc over his party’s election hopes by choosing the moment of his make-or-break conference speech to avoid the single biggest issue facing Britain both now and for at least the next few decades: the deficit. Miliband forgot the economy and the monumental black hole his party created; by choosing style over substance and failing to produce either, Miliband reminded us once again why we should never give Labour another chance. I suppose, however, that this could be seen as Labour moving in the correct direction. Ignoring is better than destroying. But it was fantastically embarrassing nonetheless when Labour seriously needed a boost ahead of May 2015 and because this gaffe occurred at conference it couldn’t slip under the radar.

This weekend is the turn of UKIP who embark on their biggest annual rendezvous on a fantastic high. The Eurosceptics won the European Elections, they have a healthy presence across the country at local government level; the party continues to grow in size and consistently polls at around 15%, eclipsing the Liberal Democrats. They have Douglas Carswell, soon to be UKIP’s first MP, and have a good shot at taking the Labour seat of Heywood and Middleton. And this year, in true UKIP style, they have chosen Doncaster Racecourse as their venue.

Read the rest here

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Salmond Resigns, His Dreams in Tatters

Published 20th September by Breitbart London

Alex-Salmond

This week Scotland voted “No Thanks” to independence, choosing in record numbers to remain part of the United Kingdom. After a two and a half year campaign and a last-minute leap in the polls, Salmond and his party just missed the mark, losing to the Better Together campaign 55 percent to 45 percent.
This was undoubtedly a larger margin than expected, certainly far greater than the nationalists wanted, but an impressive result none the less. And yet, in a shocking and entirely unexpected move, Alex Salmond chose the very next day to resign from his role as leader of the SNP and first minster of Scotland.
The question is, why on earth has Salmond chosen to go now? His decision goes against everything he’s said before, for historically the Scottish leader has remained adamant in his commitment to stick in his position until 2016 regardless of the result. He has just headed a brave campaign and came so close to realising his life-long dream.
Despite being a polarising figure, even Salmond’s detractors have refrained from piling in to criticise the SNP leader or blame him for the nationalists’ loss. There is no doubt that Salmond, and the referendum he can take much of the credit for bringing about, has changed British politics forever; he made devolution the single biggest issue in Scotland, he roused and invigorated the electorate, leading to a record turnout for Thursday’s vote.

The result itself was a tremendous achievement; yes, Salmond was smoked, but tremendous new powers have been promised by Westminster over issues including tax, spending and welfare, an outcome reminiscent of the “Devo Max” that Salmond originally favoured over all-out Braveheart-style freedom from the union.
He is rightly “immensely proud” of his Yes campaign; so why does he think that, now of all times, new leadership would benefit his party?

Chances are Salmond is exhausted, tired, knackered by the campaign and in desperate need of a break. He has done his time, over twenty years, at the front of the nationalist campaign. But it seems strange and out of character for the ebullient leader to throw in the towel after coming so close and before the power transfer deal is hammered out. A possible reason could be Cameron’s response to the No vote.

Shortly after the figures came through, Cameron surely added insult to injury for many North-of-the-border socialists with talk of new laws favouring the English to ensure a “fair and balanced settlement” for the English as well as the Scots. Rather than keeping on message and promoting unity by praising the survival of the union he made a concerted effort to pacify his own ranks.

Read the rest here

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Eurosceptics Must Watch the Scottish Referendum;

Published 12th September by Breitbart London

Scotland-Yes-Campaigner_AFP

Next week Scotland will vote to decide whether or not to break free from the rest of Britain and go it alone as an independent country. The referendum has dominated this week’s news, divided Scotland and caused violence on the streets of Glasgow, yet somehow, for the first time since I turned nine and cried as I witnessed Tony Blair walk into Downing Street, I am entirely ambivalent about the result of a British election.

I take a passing interest, of course, because it changes Britain and our history forever; the referendum itself already has, no matter what Scotland’s current residents decide. But of the actual result? Less so.
On the one hand we have three hundred years of shared history and we are a stronger country united; on the other, England grows sick of Barnet formulae and West Lothian questions, plus each country should have the right to self-determination. If pushed, I have erred in favour of the No campaign but the lure of sticking the boot into British Labour is enough to pull me towards hoping for Yes.

The sight of Cameron’s face if Scotland vote for independence would only be topped by that of Nicola Sturgeon’s if the Yes surge crumbles. With just nine days to go neither campaign can say with any confidence that they are going to win, but the biggest risk to the No campaign is probably the support of Eddie Izzard whose previous pet projects include Yes to AV and Ken Livingstone for Mayor of London, both of which failed miserably, although I doubt the revelation that North Korea is backing Alex Salmond was welcomed with open arms either.

Read the rest here

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Carswell’s Defection to UKIP Springs Hope Anew for UKIP’s Forgotten Liberals

Published 29th August by Breitbart London

Douglas Carswell has joined UKIP. About bloody time; this is a long awaited move. Carswell has been in closer political alignment to UKIP than to the Conservatives for years; on Europe, on climate change, on localism, on restoring public faith in politics… and his assurances that a move to UKIP was not imminent were noticeable by their absence long before this week.
Following the Conservatives’ dismal performance in May’s European elections, Carswell called for a pact between the Tories and UKIP. Echoing the sentiments of many a disgruntled-Tory-turned-UKIP-voter, he wrote:

A successful business doesn’t blame customers when they walk away. An astute entrepreneur will ask instead what caused the punter to leave, and ask what they need to change to get them back. Those in the business of political retain ought to do likewise…. Attacking UKIP – and by extension those who voted for them – makes no sense.

Unlike his former leader, Mr Carswell understands that the Conservatives do not own by right the votes of the Right. If abused or ignored, those of us who once bled blue can and will find a party that better represents us, much as he has done today. It is this realism and willingness to listen, in the place of the arrogance exhibited by Cameron and his ilk that made Carswell such a popular backbencher.

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The Right Must Unite, Somehow.

photo (2)

From the far left to the far right, in Britain, France, Denmark, Austria and Greece, euroscepticism is not merely “on the rise”; it has triumphed.

In Britain, Nigel Farage MEP hailed a political earthquake, the greatest result seen in over one hundred years, while in France Marine le Pen’s Front National won a historic victory, polling 25% of votes cast.

As eurosceptics across the continent celebrate, their merriments signal the start of a severe political headache for the EU juggernaut and its supporters………..

Read the rest here on www.Breitbart.com

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Would be President of Europe – “We need a European Army”

Juncker
Over the course of the next four days citizens of 28 European Union member states will turn out to vote, albeit in disappointing numbers , to decide who will become the next 751 Members of the European Parliament.

Polls suggest that many across the UK are unaware that these elections are taking place and apathy is rife; just 34.5% of Brits cast their vote in the last round of Euros, but the coinciding of local elections and UKIP fever may combine to cause a revival of interest in the UK, particularly among those who tend not to vote at all.

However, if relatively few are engaged in the political process, a veritable smidgen of the voting populace will be aware that, under the Lisbon Treaty, one of the first tasks of the incoming Parliament will be to elect a new President of the European Commission, Europarl’s all-powerful executive body.

The choice for this post must “take account” of election results, meaning that to an extent voters have a say in electing the most powerful man in Europe, but the process is typically complicated. Primarily, “taking account” is a characteristically woolly term; the Lisbon Treaty states that the proposal for the next President will come from the European Council using a qualified majority vote and taking into account the results of tomorrow’s elections. Each of the main EP-wide parties have chosen a candidate and whichever group wins will expect their candidate to get the top job. However, heads of state are under no obligation to pick any of these candidates and once their selection has been made this could then be blocked by the parliament. We could see a fight breakout between the European Parliament and the European Council over who will run the European Commission, the body with the real power.

The issue of Europe’s President has barely seen a mention in the British press. One might speculate that this is because Cameron broke his “cast-iron guarantee”, Labour oversaw the signing of the Lisbon Treaty and it all reveals a little too much of the immense power held by the Commission juxtaposed with the irrelevance of the MEPs we will elect.

But we should take notice and the press have a duty to enlighten the British public.

Not once today have I seen reported that one of the leading candidates, Jean-Claude Juncker of the European People’s Party (EPP) that used to house the British Conservatives, last night argued in favour of a European Army. In last night’s televised debate with the European Socialist (PES) candidate, Martin Schulz, the EU’s Common Defence and Security Policy (CSDP) was discussed.

Juncker jumped on the subject, claiming that if the EU had a policy of common defence procurement “between €21 billion and €60 billion could be saved, billions which could be much better invested in schools and hospitals.” He openly stated his belief in the need for a “European army”, citing Putin’s movements.

Aside from the obvious criticism of a Eurosceptic – that this money would be better “invested” back in the pockets of European taxpayers – the prospect of a European Army is out there and supported by the man who is likely to become the most powerful man in Europe.

Why is this not being reported in the UK? Is the Croydon omnishambles or the one-fingered salute by a UKIP candidate of greater national importance?

I think not.

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Thursday’s Local Elections

This Thursday those of us who have registered to vote will have a chance to elect our MEPs and – more importantly – in 161 councils in England and 11 in Northern Ireland local elections will also take place.

The meteoric rise of UKIP in the polls – an unfathomable 61% in the Eastern Region this week – and the consequent media shark attacks have somewhat detracted from the somewhat less glamorous local elections. But, local politics, dull as they may be, matter in a far more visceral way. Want to provoke emotion? Try a land dispute, planning row, refuse collection, parking or potholes. Outside of Westminster it is these sorts of issues that raise the bloody, not the CAP or obscure Directives.

In recent weeks, UKIP have entirely stolen the political headlines, for good or ill. Politicians from across the spectrum are cashing in on the UKIP cow, grappling desperately to take back the headlines , yet still UKIP are set for a landmark win on Thursday as the battle for the next gaggle of MEPs reaches its finale.

As UKIP sponge up the MEP votes haemorrhaged by other parties, there is likely to be a profound effect on the results of the locals, too. The event of European Elections coinciding with local elections has repeatedly pushed up turnout in the past. Turnout is typically around 35% for local elections, falling to just 24% in 1999 when the Europeans did not coincide.

District councils, London borough councils, Metropolitan councils, unitary councils and NI district councils spanning Kingston-upon-Thames to Kingston-upon-Hull and further; local people will get a chance to decide who sets their council tax, runs their local services and more.

Undoubtedly, UKIP’s rise in the polls will ensure the Party a better stab at picking up council seats across the country than if the Euro elections and consequent media feeding frenzy were not simultaneously raging. I’ve argued for a long time that if UKIP wants to win seats at next year’s General Election it must echo the actions of the Liberal Democrats and build up solid bases at local government level, consisting of Cllrs taking their position seriously, showing a UKIP vote is more than just two fingers to the perceived political establishment.

The results coming through late Thursday night and through Friday will be of particular interest. My predictions are an increase in UKIP seats country wide but also a rise in Independents. A tick for UKIP on the Euro ballot paper does not imply an automatic tick on the local. Anecdotally, I have a friend who has voted (postal) for UKIP (Euro), a Lib Dem and an Independent candidate (local) – but getting disgruntled people to the ballot box is half the battle and will significantly up UKIP’s chances of translating consistently high poll ratings into votes. The media have tried their very hardest, but UKIP support continues to soar ahead of Thursday; it would appear that, for Farage, all publicity is good publicity.

I will be on Sky News with Adam Boulton from about 12am – 5am as the local results trickle in.

As a final thought; I ran in the Surrey local elections last year, losing to the incumbent Conservative by just 0.8% of the share of vote (43 votes). I would love to have seen what might have happened if the Euros had coincided.

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Generation Rent and the Consumer Rights Bill

The populist and catchy line reads “Fancy being £500 richer next time you move home? Get your MP to ban letting agent fees.” Generation Rent are teaming up with Labour to fight rogue letting agents.

Led by former Labour PPC Alex Hilton, Generation Rent lobbies on behalf of private renters for decent and affordable homes. So far, so sensible.

Their latest campaign, a fairly slick one at that, is aiming to ban the vast majority of letting agents’ fees by lobbying MPs to vote in favour of a Labour Party amendment on the Consumer Rights Bill. This campaign follows a so far unsuccessful petition – just 58 signatures – calling for a mandatory national register of landlords; an embarrassingly ill-thought out piece of unnecessary bureaucracy that I hope dies like a fish in a desert.

Fortunately, the amendment was voted down by a majority of 53 (281 to 228) after the Coalition fell in to line. In my opinion, this is a good thing and here is why.

Red Ed’s leftward lurch staggers on and now it is landlords and letting agents under fire; Labour have set out plans for drastic reforms to the rental sector that include capping rent increases once a tenancy has been agreed, introducing three-year tenancies as standard and stopping letting agencies from charging tenants simply for the signing of a rental agreement.

In essence, this is yet another attempt by Labour to woo voters by promising to magic away the costs of life by interfering with markets and private companies. Like Labour’s promise to freeze energy prices, this carrot would have fallen, grated at the altar of reality; the costs will be transferred elsewhere, more likely than not to the landlords. As a landlord, I am inclined to vote against renters’ Christmas.

For the first time since we started taking note, the number of private renters has surpassed those in social housing, standing at around nine million across the UK. There is no doubt that letting agents’ fees are deeply unpopular, with landlords as well as renters. Private renters can pay charges covering administration, the mandatory professional inventory, references, guarantors, deposit protection, maintenance charges and credit checks. On average these total around £150 although anecdotal evidence suggests costs can reach far higher. This is a lot of money to most people and, in my opinion, extortion. The practice of charging renters for running credit checks and constructing an inventory does make sense, both require time and action, but in reality letting agents are charging renters to undertake the admin that is an integral part of their job. It is worse for landlords; a few months ago I had reason to ask a tenant of mine to vacate with the standard three months’ notice period (a Section 21). I was charged £75 for the privilege of sending a letter. This is, of course, in addition to the hefty percentage letting agents take out of each month’s rent cheque for “managing” the property before it reaches the landlord at all.

The vast majority of landlords (88%, myself included) rent out less than three properties with 72% renting out just one; we are not talking about a few huge, evil corporations sucking the life blood of vulnerable people, although Generation Rent’s position is clear: “a major contributor (to the cost of living crisis).. is the high cost of rents…. (this is) money that would otherwise support diverse sectors of the UK economy (but) is being hoarded by landlords.” I’m sorry – hoarded? Landlords no more “hoard” their rental income than a banker, doctor or retail worker hoards their incomes; I use it to live, pay other landlords, participate in the economy, pay taxes etc. The campaign would have more gravitas if it could keep its rhetoric a little less, well, Communist. Alex Hilton is no Henry George.

The Generation Rent campaign, backed by Stella Creasy MP, tries to appeal to free marketeers:

“By banning letting agent fees to tenants, less money will go to agents, that’s true. But landlords should expect lower costs and a better service as the effects play out. And more professional agents will be of benefit to tenants beyond the absence of exploitative fees. In fact, if this were implemented quickly and the market effects on agents flowed through quickly, that could radically undermine the case for mandatory licensing of letting agents.

This is such a classic market solution to a social problem that I’m surprised it’s not Conservative policy.”

But they do not substantiate their points.

Why should landlords expect lower costs and a better service because letting agents are banned from imposing hidden costs on their tenants? Letting agents are not required to tell landlords what charges they impose or when. The Labour proposals will make life substantially more difficult for landlords, the mandatory 3 year rental contracts in particular. No landlord wants to undergo the hassle and expense of kicking out tenants which is undoubtedly unsettling for the renters and their dependents but three years is a long time, situations change. It is the nature of the beast.

Renters do not have a monopoly on letting agents’ fees; most landlords resent that 10% siphoned off each month just as their tenants would rather not pay every time they move house. But, we live in such a service driven economy, the recruitment industry serves as a prime example, that a niche has been created. Ideally, the rise of Zoopla, Rightmove and other property portals will see an increase in one-to-one, landlord-to-tenant, exchange. It isn’t difficult to google and print a Short Hold Tenancy Agreement but, as mentioned, most landlords own just 1-3 properties and most likely work too. The legalities and confusion make outsourcing to an agent tempting.

Unless we want to see letting agencies across the country going into administration, further stagnating the housing and rental markets, we need to accept that these costs, that form a large part of some agencies’ revenue, will be displaced rather than disappear despite the best intentions of Labour and Generation Rent. More likely than not these costs will be transferred to the landlords, the subject for another rant (I’m aware this is turning into an essay). Fewer agencies will reduce options for renters, entrenching monopolies and cementing renters’ woes.

We seriously need to get the housing market moving and that includes the rental sector too. Imposing arbitrary three-year rental contract is madness; what if the landlord wants to sell the property or live there themselves? Problem tenants are as prevalent as problem letting agents and renters already have a plethora of rights and regulations at their disposal. Of course there are shocking cases of abuses of power and negligence by both landlords and letting agents but Labour and Generation Rent’s proposals are certainly not the answer; rather than professing to believe in the markets, let the market do its jobs Word of mouth travels far; shame the bad agencies and use the protections that consumers already possess. Far more importantly is the market dysfunction we see because there are far higher levels of demand than there is a supply of housing to meet this demand. In the case of housing, demand is so high as to price those on modest and even average earnings out, placing further pressure on the taxpayer to pick up the bill. We desperately need to build more houses.

If Generation Rent and politicians across the spectrum are truly concerned for renters they should focus on increasing the housing supply. We need to build more and relaxing planning regulations, encouraging renovations of brown field sites through tax breaks and continuation of schemes such as “Help to Buy” would be a solid start.

Hilton is not entirely off the mark in suggesting that people are not forced into food banks by the price of food but by the cost of housing, but direct intervention will not make costs go away, it will reroute them back at the renter or shift them on to the landlord. If Generation Rent are serious about tackling the “cost of living crisis” – letting their Labour credentials slip out there – they should focus on their campaign to tackle fuel poverty. There are an estimated 7 million people currently in fuel poverty, many of whom are in the private rented sector. GR are a member of the Energy Bill Revolution that aims to target energy efficiency; this is not a bad start, but if we are concerned about reducing households’ costs in the immediate term, a certain way to do so would be to cut Green taxes. Green taxes add an estimated 11% to the average household’s yearly energy bills, rising to 15-21% for businesses, an impact that is expected to increase to 23-26% by 2020. As in every sector of public life, whether it be energy, fuel or VAT, tax cuts are the answer, not government intervention. Limit the state and let the market weed out the rogue letting agents; either way, leave the poor sodding landlords alone. We’re taxed enough already.

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