Eight radical solutions to the housing crisis

Theres certain good suggestions in this article, such as curbing immigration and promoting the extended family over the nuclear family, a harmful invention of the industrial revolution. freestyle planning however isn't one of them.

Eight radical solutions to the housing crisis
By Tom de Castella

Pressure to address the UK's housing crisis grows ever stronger, with a number of radical solutions being put forward to ease the strain.

Hardly a week goes by without some idea making the headlines. On Tuesday, the left-leaning IPPR think tank publishes a report on how to pay for new house building, which includes local authorities investing their own pension pots and freeing up their own land for developers in return for an equity stake. Researchers also think the government should focus more on bricks and mortar than housing benefit.

Last week, a charity suggested encouraging elderly people to move out of their big houses to make room for larger families.

Just 134,000 new homes were built in the UK in 2010, the lowest number since World War II. This is despite 230,000 new households being formed every year. By 2025 there will be a housing shortfall of 750,000 in England alone, according to the IPPR.

The shortage is hitting the younger generation hardest. A fifth of 18-to-34-year-olds has been forced to live with their parents because they can't afford to rent or buy a home, according to the charity Shelter.

Commentators across the political spectrum agree the country faces a growing crisis but there is no consensus on how to fix the problem. Here are some of the boldest remedies being prescribed.

Encourage the elderly out of big houses

One solution is to free up family housing by offering elderly people tax breaks to move into smaller homes, says one pressure group. The Intergenerational Foundation says more than a third of the housing stock is under-occupied, which means they have at least two spare bedrooms.

More than half of the over 65s fall into this category and as a result are "hoarding housing", the charity argues. They say the elderly should be given tax incentives to downsize, and the government should also make sure there is more suitable housing for the elderly.

Many would argue that people who have worked hard to buy their own home can live in whatever sized house they want. Some of them say it is not just the elderly who live in houses that are too big for them. Guardian columnist George Monbiot says people who live alone in large houses should lose the 25% council tax discount available to single people.

Television property show presenter Kirstie Allsopp says it is not fair to pick on the elderly as they usually want to hang on to their homes for their children's sake.

"It's not house hoarding. This is their home," she says. "A lot of that generation have done far more in life and taken far less than we have."

Freestyle planning

The government's proposed reform of the planning laws in England has generated much debate and attracted the anger of many groups, including the National Trust and the Campaign to Protect Rural England. Ministers want councils to adopt a "presumption in favour of sustainable development", making it harder for officials to reject proposals.

Steve Turner, a spokesman for the Home Builders Federation, says the planning system has been an obstacle for growth for years. "For decades the planning system has not been delivering enough land to meet the housing needs of our population," he says.

Alex Morton, research fellow at the right-leaning Policy Exchange think tank, says the answer is to reduce the cost of land by freeing up areas for development. "We must shake up our out-of-date planning system, which was designed for the government run-society of the 1940s," he says.

Land costs alone are between about £30,000 and £60,000 per home, he says. Not only does this price people out of the market, it means there is little money left for good quality design and construction. His alternative system would see planners as private consultants working with developers to deliver realistic proposals, rather than working in the public sector stopping development. It would be up to the local community to decide if the proposal was up to scratch.

But planners warn that such an approach is a recipe for disaster. "Whether you are buying a house or building a factory, you want a level of comfort about what can be built on your doorstep," says Richard Blythe, head of policy at the Royal Town Planning Institute.

"The planning system provides this by balancing economic, social and environmental considerations and by enabling democratic input into what is proposed."

Contain population growth

The number of households in England is projected to increase from 21.7m in 2008 to 27.5m by 2033, an increase of 5.8m or 27%. Over the same period, figures are projected to rise from 1.3m to 1.6m in Wales, and from 688,700 to 880,400 in Northern Ireland. The number of households in Scotland is projected to rise from 2.3m to 2.8m between 2008 and 2033 - an increase of 21%.

"There's been a remarkable silence on the impact of migration on housing demand," says Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migration Watch.

Citing the government's figures, he argues that more than a third of new households in England in the next 25 years will be the result of immigration. Even if housebuilding were to increase by 25%, there would still be a shortage of 800,000 homes by 2033, the organisation claims.

"It's a third of the whole issue and no-one's talking about it," he adds. He believes it is possible to bring immigration down to David Cameron's target of "tens of thousands", but it will probably take two Parliaments rather than one to achieve.

But Monbiot says it's neither a practical nor humane way to deal with the problem. "It would be foolish to deny that immigration contributes to housing pressures," he says. "But to say we could solve this through controlling the population - that's the hardest way of doing it. And I'd be very reluctant to take this out on immigrants."

Force landlords to sell or let empty properties

There are nearly one million empty homes in the UK, and 350,000 of them have been empty for more than six months.

Turning them into liveable homes could make a massive difference, says David Ireland, chief executive of the Empty Homes Agency. "If you could suddenly build 350,000 homes you wouldn't sniff at that. So those empty properties are worth having."

The last government brought in orders allowing councils to force landlords to bring empty dwellings back into use, but only 60 have been issued.

It's time for bolder measures, Ireland argues. A significant number of the empty homes are publicly owned.

The answer is to give people the right to buy or rent. They would be given reduced rent in return for doing up the property and their proposal would be overseen by an independent tribunal.

There are various reasons why landlords do not sell or let empty houses, such as property speculation and tax savings. There is zero VAT on building new homes, while converting or renovating properties attracts only a reduced rate. The main reason why properties lie empty is that landlords can't afford to do them up, says Ireland, and the answer to this would be to offer a loan to anyone wanting to refurbish them.

Ban second homes

In some parts of Britain holiday homes account for a substantial proportion of the housing stock. About one in 20 households across Cornwall is a second home and owners receive a council tax discount. There's a fundamental unfairness in the fact that there's no penalty on owning a second home, says Monbiot.

"Why are they doing this? We should be rewarding social good."

The electoral roll makes it easy to work out whether someone owns two homes because you can usually only register to vote in one place. You would have to spend about the same amount of time in your second home if you wanted to register to vote in that area as well, according to the Electoral Commission.

Local authorities should increase council tax on those with a second or third home, Monbiot says.

But TV property presenter Sarah Beeny says second homes are not responsible for the housing crisis and banning them is "quite extreme".

"It doesn't fall that far from banning people from having a second child," she says. "Maybe make a second home less appealing, but the tax benefits are not there already. Owning a second home is better in theory than in practice."

Guarantee mortgage payments

In these difficult economic times, a lack of mortgage availability is the short-term constraint on development, say house builders.

"If people can't buy, builders can't build," says Steve Turner from the Home Builders Federation.

Ways need to be found to encourage mortgage lenders to lend on terms that people can afford, he argues. The best way of doing this is for the government, house builders and mortgage lenders to club together to fund an insurance scheme that would underwrite mortgages where the lender defaults. Talks are in progress but these are complex negotiations, he admits.

But mortgage lenders are risk-averse and have imposed stricter lending criteria for obvious reasons. The first global financial crisis in 2007 was precipitated by the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market in the US, where banks give high-risk loans to people with poor credit histories.

"Forget the nonsense about the 'mortgage drought'," says Alex Morton from the Policy Exchange. The real problem is not so much lack of finance for mortgages but the impact of high land costs, he argues.

Live with extended family

The general trend is for more people to live on their own rather than with a big family. But in southern European countries, such as Italy, it is much more common for families to live cheek-by-jowl.

By following this model of grandparents, children and grandchildren all living under one roof, the housing stock would be more efficiently distributed. In 2008 the Skipton Building Society predicted numbers following this model would triple over the following 20 years from 75,000 to 200,000 people.

Several generations often have no choice but to squeeze into the one home to keep costs down. And the UK has its own "boomerang" generation, where young people have to move back home because they cannot afford to get on the property ladder. But where there is a choice, most people would prefer a more private and comfortable living arrangement.

Living with your family can create stress between the generations. The arts journalist Cosmo Landesman wrote in the Daily Mail of his experience of moving back in with his parents.

"We tend to sentimentalise the old, to see them as sweet lovable dears," he wrote. "But most people have no idea just how irritating, how utterly exasperating it is, living with two old people."

Build more council homes

Council homes have been part of British society for more than a century, from the "homes for heroes" cottages that were built in the wake of World War I to the much-maligned, monolithic high rises of the 60s and 70s.

But the "right-to-buy" phenomenon, started by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government in 1979, led to a massive depletion in council housing stock, with more than two million tenants taking advantage of the scheme.

And the building of council houses to let has almost died off, sending waiting lists through the roof.

Government figures show nearly 168,000 local authority homes were built across the UK in 1950, 88,530 in 1980 and 17,710 in 1990. In 2000, just 280 were built and in 2010, the figure was 1,320.

Since 1990, the building of "social" housing has been mainly the preserve of housing associations, and since that year, they have built an average of 27,000 homes a year.

Abigail Davies, assistant director of policy and practice at the Chartered Institute of Housing, says there is a high demand for social housing across the UK.

"If you look at waiting lists, although a pretty crude measure, they are much higher and longer than could ever be matched by the turnover."

While building more affordable homes is always desirable, it will not solve the housing crisis on its own, she says. Davies believes the most radical solution involves making market prices come down and stay down.

"People often hark back to the 1960s when the state was paying for council houses to be built. I cannot see that happening again with all the other demands on its finances."

Be careful if you have an ultrasound scan!

At least it isn't on purpose this time, but be careful if you're pregnant!

Healthy Babies Lost 'Due To Scan Blunders'
By Thomas Moore, health correspondent


Hundreds of pregnant women a year are losing much-wanted babies because of unreliable miscarriage tests, new research suggests.

Scientists say the ultrasound checks are resulting in some women with perfectly healthy pregnancies wrongly being told their baby has died in the womb.

Women would then usually have a termination.

Professor Tom Bourne, from Imperial College London, said 400 viable pregnancies a year could be "misclassified" as a miscarriage.

"These numbers are significant and relate to pregnancies that would be highly likely to reach term," he said.

"I don't think women should be anxious, but I do think we should get it right so we don't make any mistakes."
Prof Bourne led a new study of 1,000 women who were thought to be miscarrying.

If women experience pain or bleeding during pregnancy doctors scan the gestational sac inside the womb. If there is no embryo or the foetus has no heartbeat they diagnose a miscarriage.

But where there is doubt doctors are advised to measure the size of the gestational sac seven to 10 days later. If the sac has not grown, a miscarriage is assumed to have occurred.

However, the researchers warn that there can be a natural variation in the size of gestational sac of up to 20%.

The researchers are now calling for more research and improved medical guidelines to reduce the chances of misdiagnosis.

Dr Tony Falconer, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: "Healthcare professionals must receive the best training possible to ensure that they are competent in antenatal screening and diagnoses so that mistakes are avoided."
The findings are published in the journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics.

BBC documentary on Nick Griffin and the BNP

Some interesting thoughts on what a BBC documentary says about Nick Griffin, the BNP and patriotism in the UK.

That Will Teach Him
By Alex Kurtagic

On Monday 10 October the BBC aired a Panorama shockumentary film about the British National Party (BNP). This was the latest in a series of ‘exposés’ about that organisation, previous ones having been Channel 4‘s Young, Nazi, and Proud (2002), the BBC’s ‘BNP: Under the Skin’ (another Panorama film from 2005), and the 15 July 2004 edition of BBC One’s The Secret Agent (2004).

Unlike its predecessors, this film, made by Darragh MacIntyre, did not focus on that party’s discussion of race and immigration (what he referred to as ‘racism’), but rather on the BNP’s financial management and accounting practices.

The film also enjoyed the participation of former senior party officials and employees, who had fallen out with the party leader and Member of European Parliament (MEP), Nick Griffin. These included the former party fundraiser, Jim Dowson; the former Director of Publicity, Mark Collett; the former treasurer, John Walker; former webmaster Simon Bennett; former party Administrator Marion Thomas; and former party worker Alistair Barbour. According to MacIntyre, he also spoke to various others, off the record, including David Hannam.

As a method of inspiring caution towards Griffin and his party among lukewarm supporters the film is effective. It reinforces earlier news reports about the BNP’s current financial troubles and persistent late filing of accounts and, more damagingly, presents its accounting practices as governed by a semi-criminal ethos. Only those with first-hand information, those sensitised to media tactics, and those who do their own research before forming an opinion will come to a nuanced—although not necessarily more positive—view.

The case is made by the former BNP officials, who in the film state that invoices were faked so as to comply with the Electoral Commission’s rules; that the party lied about its accounts; and that Griffin broke the European Parliament’s rules by extracting money from his member’s expense account and diverting it towards funding national party work. According to the film, for example, Nick Griffin rented a unit in an industrial estate in Cumbria to use as offices for his work as MEP, but also rented the unit next door to use as national party headquarters, apparently so that the latter could siphon off electricity from the MEP’s offices, and thus have the European Parliament pay the bill for electricity that was used for party work within the United Kingdom. MacIntyre concedes that when the European Commission investigators arrived at the site they found no evidence of an electricity scam, but one can easily imagine why, as all it would take to transfer electrical costs onto another entity’s bill is to run an extension cable. Yet the assertion is unsubstantiated, so MacIntyre films Alistair Barbour stating that for Griffin it was all about getting their noses in the trough and getting as much as they could out of the European Parliament.

Things look even worse when the film reveals how Nick Griffin chose to respond to MacIntyre’s requests for an interview. Evidently fed up with the BBC’s efforts to discredit him and his party, Griffin was reluctant to be interviewed to respond to the allegations—in the past he has complained of negatively biased selective editing by the mainstream channels. After some thought, however, he agreed to appear in the programme, only it seems he did so after recognising an opportunity to turn the tables on the BBC. In what was evidently revenge for what he considers the ambush of the BBC’s Question Time programme two years ago, he formatted the ‘interview’ like a press conference, with a reverse Q & A. The film shows Griffin first ending a statement about BBC bias in reporting BNP politics (as he would have expected, the statement was left out in its entirety) before making a swift exit and then having the BNP’s own cameras turn on the BBC before Simon Darby (the National Media Spokesman) launches a series pointed questions. In other words, Griffin orchestrates a televised ambush. The resulting video was gleefully posted on the BNP website shortly after it was made as a ‘taste of their own medicine’ exercise. (It is instructive to contrast this footage against Panorama’s version of this incident.) I say things look worse, not better, because the exercise, satisfying as it may have been for Griffin and BNP supporters, highlights to what degree the BNP is a reactive, rather than an active, party: they allow their tactics, approach, and character to be defined by their enemies; and thus, even when they go on the offensive they are still fundamentally defensive.

On the whole, the BBC film paints a picture of Nick Griffin and the BNP leadership as corrupt, opportunistic, thuggish, and incompetent. Of course, this is as one would expect from an organisation with a strong Leftist bias and a record of persistent negative reporting about their chosen bogeyman, the BNP. In reality, however, the BBC programme only scratches the surface, for one can find much more detailed and equally colourful—but ultimately tedious—background information elsewhere, courtesy of former members’ blogs, local news reports, the BNP website, and more.

In an earlier article I pointed out that many of those who share the party’s official views and policies for the United Kingdom, would worry about a BNP government. Not only is there an amateur quality to their operation, despite efforts to present themselves more professionally, but their approach betrays a rough-and-ready, quick-and-dirty, pub-brawl character when responding to challenging situations. Evidently this has much to do with access to money and the attitudes that result from the fact of marginality. It must also be in the nature of populist parties to be this way. The mainstream parties, who enjoy all the assurance of social legitimacy and access to professional advisors, manage much more successfully to appear respectable despite being fraudulent and corrupt on a much larger scale.

Indeed, the phrasing used by Mark Collett when discussing the party’s wins in the European Parliamentary election of 2009 is telling, as he says that it was thought at the time that the BNP would ‘now operate like a legitimate party’. Even if Collett’s phrasing was merely unfortunate, it betrays a culture within the BNP that in personnel terms has been defined by its lowest common denominator as well as by the marginality contrived by establishment academics, politicians, and media content producers, all of whom regard the BNP as essentially criminal. There is a subtle but crucial difference between realising that an electoral victory will enable members to operate as a professional party, and realising that said victory will enable members to operate as a legitimate party. The former suggests greater access to resources will reflect positively in party organisation and management; the latter suggests the party did not consider itself legitimate to begin with, which is different and independent from being considered legitimate by the establishment or the mainstream of society.

As bad as it all looks in the programme, a few comments about it are necessary.

One of them has to do with the BNP’s finances. An accountant hired by the BBC to assess the party’s accounts and financial position deems the party to be ‘technically insolvent’, and it has been reported that the party is £570,000 in debt. This is peanuts when one thinks of the Labour Party’s debts in 2010, which amounted to £16,600,000; or those of the Conservatives, which amounted to £13,000,000; or those of the Liberal Democrats, which amounted to £1,600,000. Even accounting for membership size, while the BNP’s debt burden is significant for a party of 14,000 members, said debt burden is £40 per member, while the Labour Party’s is £85 per each of their 200,000 members, and the Conservatives’ is £45 per each of their 290,000 members. Only the Liberal Democrats are better off. All the same, the Panorama film reveals that the BNP managed to triple their income between 2007 and 2009, which approached £2,000,000 that year. Conversely, it does not reveal that at least some of the debt has been accrued fighting the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), who did not like the idea of Whites organising politically as Whites. The BNP was not able to sign up new members while the court case dragged on. And, however much the BNP may leave to be desired, the EHRC case was a clear attempt at hobbling the party economically. The haters at the EHRC have no interest in having a party like the BNP be compliant with equality legislation; on the contrary, I am sure they would have preferred it if the BNP leadership had refused to comply, as that would have meant that the party, along with any other that sought to organise Whites polically as Whites, would no longer be recognised or allowed to operate as such.

Another is that the programme makers’ emulation of EHRC’s economically targeted approach appears to signal a change of emphasis in the establishment’s tactics. Nick Griffin is an MEP because a great many people voted for him, not caring if doing so was considered ‘racist’. The fact is that these voters felt the BNP addressed concerns that they had and wanted to make known to mainstream political parties, having noticed that said parties’ leadership only worries about those concerns when the BNP advances in the polls. ‘Vote for anyone except the BNP,’ said Conservative Party leader David Cameron in 2006. By focusing on allegations of maladministration and corruption, rather than on ‘racism’, it is clear that the hope is to undermine the confidence of supporters and thus make it even more difficult for the party to fund itself. This would indicate a possible recognition that an increasing number people are tired of the constant accusations of racism and no longer give a damn about being thought politically incorrect—that, in other words, the establishment’s ‘anti-racist’ ideology no longer enjoys the force it once did, creating the need for attacking the opposition’s status rather than their morality.

Yet another is that the programme treats former BNP officials and workers rather sympathetically. The viewer learns nothing about them, except their former positions, the fact that they left the BNP, and their being disillusioned with Nick Griffin and his ‘officer core’. Hard evidence seems scarce, and the viewer is presented mostly with a series of assertions. This has made it easy for Griffin to dismiss his critics as being disgruntled individuals with axes to grind. There is an unpleasant cynicism at work here that, as usual, insults the viewer’s intelligence.

What is interesting is that, as the allegations are presented in the programme, Griffin’s misdeeds—the fake invoices, the undisclosed donations, the misuse of expense accounts (all of which also occur within the mainstream parties)—all seem aimed at improving his party’s economic standing, rather than enriching him personally. His car, until recently, was a Skoda.

This contrasts with the corruption uncovered within the mainstream parties during the parliamentary expenses scandal of 2009, where members of parliament got their noses in the trough to enhance their personal lifestyles.

Convicted thief Elliot Morley, for example, former Labour MP for Scunthorpe, stole £16,800 from the public purse—that is, from people like you and me—by claiming £800 a month in respect of a property in his constituency for 18 months after the mortgage had ended. Convicted thief Jim Devine, former Labour MP for Livingston, stole £8,385 from the public purse by claiming against expenses using faked invoices. Convicted thief David Chaytor, former Labour MP for Bury North, stole £13,000 by claiming rent for a house which he owned, using a fake tenancy agreement with his daughter. Former Labour MP for Wirral South, Ben Champan, falsely overclaimed £15,000 against interest on his mortgage. Millionaire peer Amir Bhatia was told to repay £27,446 as a result of false claims against a second home. Tony Blair was luckier than his colleagues, as records of his expenses were shredded ‘by mistake’ when efforts began to have them published.

In the case of the Labour politicians, we have individuals who do not believe their own ideology: they use the language of social justice, redistribution of wealth, and class resentment, yet they clearly want to live the good life, and, though in some cases they already enjoy great wealth, they do not mind redistributing income extracted from the poor or the middle class in order to top up their personal bank accounts. In the case of Griffin, the film suggests a politician who is genuine ideologically, but who follows through with unethical and criminal practices. The latter would seem driven by a pub-brawl approach to politics, a deep hostility towards and mistrust of mainstream institutions, and the fact of marginality, a limit situation that intrinsically generates a need for bending rules, exploiting loopholes, and resorting to unorthodox, crude, and opportunistic tactics of dubious legality. Parts of this approach may be intellectually justifiable where an establishment has used the law to suppress dissidence, as in the case of certain speech laws, but outside of these specific areas this is not the case, and the BBC may have realised this and sought to exploit it accordingly.

Divisions, falling outs, and dillusionment has caused defections to rival parties; some of the former officials and employees who appeared in the programme are now working for them. These rival parties are small, however, and it may take many years before any of them gains brand recognition. The media and political establishment no doubt hope that by undermining trust in the financial management and accounting practices of the main nationalist party they will foster a climate of suspicion within nationalist politics as a whole, causing rival parties of a similar mould to find it more difficult to add members and obtain donations. And so long as they have limited economic means they will find it difficult to look important and like they have good prospects, both of which are essential given the human tendency to side with winners—being on the side of the winners makes a person feel good about himself, because he aspires to be like the winners and to count them as friends, since that sends out the message that he too is a winner.

From a broader perspective, so long as establishment institutions remain in the grip of, or are defined by, a Leftist ideology it will make little difference politically whether the BNP survives its present crisis, splinters into smaller parties, or disappears altogether. Its utility in recent years has been as a recognisable option for those wishing to scare mainstream politicians into re-thinking immigration and the state-sponsored policy of multiculturalism. The mainstream political and media establishment know full well there is no prospect of a BNP government, but this does not stop them from fearing that BNP advances in the polls will make it seem ‘OK’ for White voters openly to criticise and organise as Whites against policies that run counter to their interests and desires as an identifiable group. A film like the one discussed herein has the same aim as earlier ones that focused on so-called ‘racism’, the message always being that ‘if you support these guys, you’re supporting criminal thugs, so beware!’ It will not change anyone’s minds with respect to the fundamental issues of immigration and multiculturalism: those who favour current government policy will find themselves confirmed in their views; those who think the media has a Leftist bias will also find themselves confirmed in their views—even if they would not want the BNP in power; and the apolitical majority who simply adopt prevailing mainstream opinion will find no reason to change. The film is really for this latter group—it exists as a reminder of where the boundaries of acceptability lie, as well as a general deterrent against investigating alternatives.

Left rewrite immigration history

Labour are admitting they were wrong, but not admitting how wrong they've been. This is an ideologically motivated attempt to replace our population and national identity, which sacrifices the real-lie benefits of a homogenous society like Japan for the sake of a merely moral 'ought' that all the worlds peoples are interchangable and that everyone is an individual without any culture-specific context that defines who they are by what they are.

Thursday 29 September 2011
The Left is rewriting Britain's immigration history
The last Labour government threw open the borders well before Poland joined the European Union
By Philip Johnston

'We got it wrong”. If this is not quite the slogan for Labour’s annual conference in Liverpool, it is the message the leadership wants the public to hear, though without having to apologise for the mistakes made by the last government. What they really mean by this phoney self-flagellation is this: if we spent too much, it was with the best of intentions; if we borrowed too much, well so did everyone else; if the economy went down the pan, blame the bankers.

And as for immigration – it was all the fault of the Poles. “I think we underestimated the level of immigration from Poland which had a big effect on people,” said Ed Miliband.

But hang on a second. Labour came to office in 1997 and Poland did not join the EU until 2004. Yet whereas in 1996, net immigration to the UK was 40,000, by 2003 it was 150,000. It is now about 250,000. As even a cursory glance at immigration graphs will show, the beginnings of this rapid rise long predated the accession to the EU of the former Soviet bloc countries of eastern Europe.

True, the figure rose again after the Poles joined and the Labour government decided in its wisdom to allow the new arrivals to come and work in Britain, even though it could have denied them access for up to seven years – as Germany and France did. Whitehall officials estimated that only 13,000 workers from the East would come looking for jobs; in the event it was half a million, which makes even Treasury growth forecasts look like a paragon of accuracy.

But the fact remains that net immigration had almost quadrupled before the enlargement of the EU. Mr Miliband’s mea culpa is, therefore, just so much hot air. He is trying to give the impression that apart from under-estimating the influx from Poland and the other new members, it was really all beyond Labour’s control.

In fact, the last Labour government did more than “get it wrong” on immigration: either wilfully or recklessly, it ripped up a national consensus that had prevailed since the early 1970s. Next month, in fact, sees the 40th anniversary of one of the most seminal pieces of legislation of the post-war years, the 1971 Immigration Act.

It was fashioned to take the heat out of an incendiary political debate over levels of immigration that were far smaller than anything we are seeing today. The issue had exploded in the late 1960s with Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech and his subsequent dismissal from the shadow cabinet by Edward Heath.

But the Tories could not evade a subject that was causing deep disquiet in the country and when Heath took office in 1970 it was on a promise to reduce significantly the number of people coming from what was then called the New Commonwealth, essentially the Indian sub-continent, for whom there had previously been free admission to the UK.

When the Immigration Bill received its second reading in the Commons on March 8 1971, Reginald Maudling, the Home Secretary, said: “If we are to get progress in community relations, we must give assurance to the people who were already here before the large wave of immigration that this will be the end and that there will be no further large-scale immigration.”

The controls introduced by the Act put an end to mass immigration. From that point on until the mid-1990s, net immigration to the UK ran consistently around or below 50,000 per annum.

This was a level that secured widespread public approval; and even if a few fringe parties continued to bang on about it, immigration was no longer a mainstream political issue, The 1987 Conservative manifesto’s entry amounted to just a few sentences and read: “Immigration for settlement is now at its lowest level since control of Commonwealth immigration first began in 1962. Firm but fair immigration controls are essential for harmonious and improving community relations.”

By 2005, however, the Tories were accusing the government of “losing control of the borders” and promising new limits, quotas and frontier checks. “We need to ensure that immigration is effectively managed, in the interests of all Britons, old and new,” said the manifesto – echoing the words used by Maudling in 1971.
So, Labour did more than simply “get it wrong”. It undermined the fundamental basis of the 1971 settlement, which was to ensure that immigration did not become a source of friction within communities, as it clearly has done once more. Politicians have always felt it necessary to emphasise the economic benefits of immigration, even though a House of Lords committee showed these to be a myth.

But they often shy away from discussing its social significance – the impact on communities of a rapidly changing demography about which Maudling spoke 40 years ago.

For the first time since the Norman Conquest, the population is growing primarily because of immigration. This has had a significant impact on schools and hospitals, on infrastructure and housing, especially in London and the South-East, where most immigrants settle.

None of this was planned for. Moreover, despite a recent fall in emigration, far more British people are departing these shores than are returning after a period abroad. So the ethnic mix of the country is changing faster than at any time in our history.

All this happened without any discussion; nobody was asked at an election to support a new policy to replace the 1971 Act. When, in 2001, the Tories tried to get a national debate going they were howled down as racists.

Now the best the Labour leader can come up with is that his party “got it wrong.” So, that’s all right then.

Pointless NHS reform

Reform of the NHS should be aimed at stopping support for junkies and alcoholics - leave that to the police, by cold turkey in a cell. They should also ditch all state funded abortions, except in the most extreme circumstances, such as where the life of the mother is at stake, and provide birth control only for certain demographic sectors.

7 September 2011
David Cameron's NHS 'support' claim disputed by staff

A row has broken out after David Cameron told MPs that doctors and nurses were now "supporting" government plans to overhaul the NHS in England.

Following the remarks during prime minister's questions, the Royal College of Nursing issued a statement saying it still had "very serious concerns".

The Royal College of GPs said it was "extremely worried" about some aspects.

The health bill cleared its Commons stages on Wednesday, despite criticism from some Lib Dems as well as Labour.

It was approved by MPs by 65 votes, and will now go to the House of Lords where it is expected to face further opposition.

Earlier this year, the government was forced to "pause" the bill while ministers re-consulted on the proposals via a listening exercise called the NHS Future Forum.

A number of changes were subsequently made to the legislation.

But during Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Miliband told the PM that in newspaper articles published this week, the British Medical Association, the Royal College of GPs and the Royal College of Midwives had still "all rejected your bill".

But in his reply, Mr Cameron insisted that "now you've got the Royal College of GPs, the physicians, the nurses, people working in the health service supporting the changes we're making".

Later though, two of the professional bodies mentioned by the prime minister issued statements apparently disputing the comments he had made.

Dr Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "While we acknowledge that the government have listened to our members in a number of areas, we still have very serious concerns about where these reforms leave a health service already facing an unprecedented financial challenge."

He said the government had changed the bill in response to calls from nurses, including amending the role of competition in the health service, and he welcomed the commitment made to supporting ongoing professional training.

"However, at a time when the NHS needs to find £20bn in efficiencies, tackle waste, work harder to prevent ill-health and deal with an ageing population, we are telling MPs that this bill risks creating a new and expensive bureaucracy and fragmenting care," Dr Carter said.

"This fragmentation risks making inequalities worse, and preventing health providers from collaborating in the interests of patients. As the bill enters this final phase, we will be working to ensure that there are checks and balances to avoid these very real risks."

Dr Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said it supported the idea of giving more power to GPs.

"However, we continue to have a number of concerns about the government's reforms, issues which we believe may damage the NHS or limit the care we are able to provide for our patients. These concerns have been outlined and reiterated pre- and post-pause," she said.

"As a college we are extremely worried that these reforms, if implemented in their current format, will lead to an increase in damaging competition, an increase in health inequalities, and to massively increased costs in implementing this new system."

A Department of Health spokesman said later: "The independent NHS Future Forum confirmed there is widespread support for the principles of our plans, which give freedom and control to doctors, nurses and front-line professionals."

Lib Dem rebels
The disagreement followed an earlier row over comments made by Health Minister Lord Howe.

He told a meeting of private health providers that the overhaul of the NHS presented "huge opportunities" for the commercial sector, and it should not matter "one jot" who provided care as long as it was free at the point of delivery.

Unions and Labour said the remarks revealed the government's true intentions.

Four Lib Dem MPs - out of a total of 57 - voted against the health bill on Wednesday evening.

They were Andrew George, Julian Huppert, Greg Mulholland and Adrian Sanders. Another Lib Dem, Stephen Gilbert, voted both for and against - a device to register a deliberate abstention.

It is also thought that a small number of Lib Dems unhappy with the legislation did not vote at all.

Flash mob raises awareness about alcohol abuse during pregnancy

Whilst our population goes down through voluntary birth control, alcoholics produce children with fetal alcohol syndrome. But no one calls for compulsory birth control, for the alcoholics and other drug addicts.

9 September 2011
Pregnant pause at Aberdeen flash gathering

A flash mob to highlight fetal alcohol problems has taken place in Aberdeen city centre.

The event at the Trinity Centre was part of a UK-wide "Pregnant Pause" flash mob.

The National Organisation on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS-UK) stunt took place at 09:09 - on 9 September - to mark the nine months of pregnancy.

Participants placed a balloon up their tops and then froze for exactly nine minutes, before moving off.

Fetal alcohol syndrome is a pattern of mental and physical defects that can develop in a fetus in association with high levels of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

A new booklet - Pregnancy, Parenting and Alcohol, produced by NHS Grampian - was also launched at the event, and there will be an information stand in the shopping centre throughout the day.

Idiots trust internet, not doctors

Well of course, if people abstained or used condoms thered be no STIs except for pubic lice in the first place. But this article shows the danger of information overload over the internet, as no one who doesn't know the facts in the first place can tell which information is reliable.

9 September 2011
Warning over 'untrustworthy' sex health

Many young people worried about sexual health problems shun traditional health services for potentially untrustworthy websites, a poll suggests.

The Information Standard - a government-backed scheme to improve the reliability of health information - surveyed 1,200 18-24-year-olds.

The research showed eight in 10 relied on the internet for help without being aware of the authenticity of the sites.

Experts said it was essential the young sought help from official channels.

Nearly two-thirds of participants reported never having had a sexual health screening.

Their reluctance to use official NHS services was blamed on embarrassment and a lack of awareness about the seriousness of conditions.

Informed advice
Where young people do rely on the internet, the Information Standard said it was important to use reliable sites, such as those produced by the NHS, local authorities or leading charities.

Official and authenticated sites carry the Information Standard brand.

Ann Robinson, director of public awareness at the Information Standard, said: "We want all young people to understand how to spot a trustworthy site.

"Just because it ranks high in the search engine, for example, does not mean that it will provide informed advice."

Dominic Edwardes, of the Terrence Higgins Trust charity, said: "Sexually transmitted infection rates are worryingly high amongst young people, accounting for more than half of all new diagnoses in England in 2010.

"To reduce these figures we need to make sure that young people are equipped with trustworthy advice and understand how to have safe protected sex."

Government cuts back on military spending

Even as our troops have been sent abroad to fight and die in Libya, in a war that has nothing to do with us, the government renders us defenceless.

Disarming Britain: the latest suicidal LibLabCon policy

Cuts to the Armed Forces announced at the weekend were worse than previously feared, with 22,000 defence jobs to be axed by 2015. Coupled with a similar planned decimation of the already stretched police service, LibLabCon Britain is set to become an even more dangerous place in which to live.

The first wave of redundancies saw almost 2,000 armed service personnel dismissed, and hundreds more are set to go before the month is out.

Some 930 RAF and 920 Army members were told they were being made redundant, 750 compulsorily, as part of the first ‘tranche’ of job losses.

On September 30, the Royal Navy will dismiss as many as 1,600 personnel, possibly including Royal Marines who this year served in Afghanistan.

Critics protested that the cuts represented a gross betrayal of RAF and Army heroes currently serving in North Africa and the Middle East.

An MoD spokesman confirmed that the second tranche of redundancies will take place in early 2012. There will be ‘up to four’ such tranches implemented to enact the sweeping cuts enforced on the military to meet the budget reductions of 2014/15, by which time 22,000 military personnel will be dismissed, he said.

However, one Whitehall source pointed out that ‘by the time we get to rounds three or four, it's hard to imagine there will be any volunteers left’. Another official added: ‘It's hard to tell how things will look, but this is not likely to get any easier.’

Predictably, Defence Minister Liam Fox and other ConDem MPs blamed the eternal scapegoat of the previous Labour government for the deficit behind the sackings, despite the fact that the ConDems have not only flagrantly continued Labour’s policies of waste but, in many cases, have accelerated them, involving our forces in yet another unnecessary and costly foreign war, and increasing the annual foreign aid budget, to name just two examples.

At the same time as soldiers are laid off, the government will also cut police numbers by 16,000 as part of a 20 percent budget reduction. Ironically, the number of officers to be cut is the same that was needed to police London during the race riots last month.

The budget savings of £1.2 billion for the for the military and £1.36 billion for the police over the next four years add up to just over half of the planned £3.9 billion increase in foreign aid over the same time period.

Once again, the traitorous LibLabCons have got it backwards.

Lib-Dems push Tories to support abortionists

The Allegedly Conservative party show no respect for human life wether they're supporting babykillers such as Marie Stopes and BPAS or wether they're sending our troops into unjust wars in Libya that did not involve British interests.

The dishonesty of the people David Cameron is protecting can be illustrated by the fact that the Marie Stopes clinics use the name of a pro-life biologist who sought to reduce the number of abortions. Their brutality can be shown by the fact that Ann Furedi of the BPAS supports the abortion of viable babies on the grounds of individual freedom, following the arguments of libertarians, whose ideology of individual selfishness also supports the right of parents to starve their own children to death.

There is no sensible opposition to the moderate proposals put forward about abortion by Nadine Dorries, and yet Cameron has bowed down to even powerless people like the Lib dems.

5 September 2011 Last updated at 14:45
Nadine Dorries in 'covert whipping' claim on abortion

The Tory MP trying to change abortion advice offered to women in England has criticised ministers for trying to influence a "free vote" on the issue.

Nadine Dorries says a letter sent to all MPs about her amendment was a form of "covert whipping".

Abortion is an issue on which MPs are allowed to vote with their conscience rather than along party lines.

David Cameron has said that although he is sympathetic to Ms Dorries' case, he will not vote for her amendment.

The prime minister is concerned the proposed change would prevent abortion providers like Marie Stopes and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) from offering counselling, his spokeswoman said.

Health Minister Anne Milton wrote to all MPs on Friday to make the same point and say that all health ministers would oppose Ms Dorries' amendment if it came to a vote.

Ms Dorries told the BBC on Monday that move had been "unprecedented" - but may backfire because some Conservative MPs who had been "wobbly" on the issue may now vote for her amendment because they "don't like being told" how to vote.

She blamed Deputy PM Nick Clegg for Mr Cameron's coolness towards her amendment - claiming he had "blackmailed" the prime minister by saying that Lib Dem MPs would not vote for the health bill if her amendment was carried.

She said the letter sent out on Friday was "a covert, secret whipping" operation which was "unprecedented" ahead of a "free vote": "Nick Clegg has put pressure on the prime minister, the prime minister is putting pressure on MPs."

Sources close to Mr Clegg have said there were conversations about the issue but have played down reports the Lib Dem leader demanded the change. Downing Street has said Conservative MPs were under no pressure to vote a particular way.

MPs will debate the Health and Social Care bill on Tuesday and Wednesday.

But with 1,100 amendments tabled on different aspects of the controversial and much-delayed piece of legislation, aimed at shaking up the NHS, it is not certain that Ms Dorries' amendment - which is backed by Labour backbencher Frank Field - will be called by Speaker John Bercow.

'Too high'
At present, women seeking an abortion need the consent of two doctors, which can be obtained through an NHS clinic or GP surgery, or at a private provider, such as Marie Stopes or BPAS, affiliated to the NHS.

In both cases, staff have a duty to provide counselling to the women who use them - and under Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists' guidelines that advice should be impartial, objective and unbiased.

Ms Dorries amendment says "independent information, advice and counselling services" should be among statutory duties on the NHS - and if a private body is to supply NHS-funded advice it should "not itself provide for the termination of pregnancies".

She argues that current arrangements mean that women who may have doubts find themselves on a "conveyor belt" to an abortion and says her amendment would give them more choice.

But pro-choice campaigners say independent bodies could include faith-based groups morally opposed to abortion.

On Sunday Conservative Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox said the number of abortions was "far too high" and he would support amendments which saw numbers fall.

Lib Dem peer Lord Steel - whose private member's bill led to the Abortion Act 1967, the law which still governs abortions in England, Scotland and Wales - told the BBC that women considering an abortion already had to speak to two doctors before going to the clinic, so already had "counselling at that level".

He said the Department of Health had total control over clinics, and could close them down if there were any complaints about counselling and said there were concerns that changing the law could cause further delays to abortion.

'Neutral organisation'
The Department of Health has said it wants a consultation about the advice available to women seeking abortions and has not finalised any proposals yet, but it does not propose to strip abortion charities of their ability to provide advice.

A number of other MPs have put forward amendments to the health bill in relation to terminations.

Conservative Louise Mensch is proposing that women should be offered counselling by a "neutral organisation", ideally the NHS itself, but at the very least, a body which is neither faith-based nor an abortion provider.

In addition, she says women should also have the additional choice to attend any registered counselling service, which could be one with a pro or anti-choice agenda.

Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert has tabled an amendment which would effectively give weight to the status quo, by requiring all organisations giving advice to follow current clinical guidelines and provide medically accurate information.

Poll shows that 92% of MPs support the use of independent counselling to reduce abortions

A poll shows that 92% of MPs support impartial abortion counselling, yet David Cameron is about to give in to the pro-choice fanatics among the Lib Dems. Even though 73% of Liberal Democrat voters indicated that they would like their MP to vote for abortion counselling changes, meaning that the Tories stand to potentially gain from the Lib Dems on this.

Press Release
For immediate release
1 September 2011

Survey Reveals Overwhelming Parliamentary Support for Independent Abortion Counselling

A ComRes poll published today reveals that over 90% of MPs support the principle that women considering an abortion should have access to advice from someone who had no financial interest in the outcome of her decision.

The survey found that 92% of MPs agreed with the statement that ‘a woman should have the right to impartial advice when considering having an abortion, from a source that has no commercial interest in her decision'.
An amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill, tabled by Nadine Dorries MP and Rt Hon Frank Field MP, that seeks to secure the provision of independent information, advice and counseling are expected to be discussed next week.

If adopted, the amendment would ensure that non-compulsory counseling was made available to women considering abortion from a source that the she could be sure had no financial interest in whether or not she proceeded to have an abortion.

Commenting on the findings a spokesperson for Right to Know said:

“The widespread support for the objectives of this campaign is unsurprising. It is important that conflicts of interest are removed from the provision of abortion counseling.”

"We want to see women considering abortion provided with the space to think through their decision. This is not a party-political issue. The welfare of women is at stake here.

“As we learned from the pension mis-selling scandal, it is vital that there is a separation between those providing advice and those selling a product or service. That way, the public can have confidence in the quality of the advice that they are receiving. This amendment seeks to extend that principle to abortion services.”