Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers

1. Argentina's oil grab is timely retort to rampaging capitalism (Observer)

Cristina Fernández's actions, however clumsy, are part of a worldwide reaction to exploitation by business and the rich, writes Will Hutton

2. The cool Mrs Theresa May is acting like a hothead (Sunday Telegraph)

Peter Oborne writes that Theresa May has not displayed "the cool, calm deliberation one would expect from a Home Secretary"

3. The midterm elections are now crucial thanks to omnishambles (Observer)

The outcome of these contests will make a huge difference to the morale and momentum of the rival parties, writes Andrew Rawnsley

4. Ask politicians about FGM, and lo, they are against it (Independent on Sunday)

Joan Smith writes on the disconnect between words and actions on FGM.

5. Abolishing the Lords would be political vandalism (Observer)

Nadhim Zahawi argues that an elected Lords would fatally injure the Commons

6. We're British, which means Abu Qatada should stay (Independent on Sunday)

John Rentoul writes that respect for "innocent until proven guilty" should extent to Qatada, or it doesn't really exist at all.

7. Forget Ukip, David Cameron and explain what the Government is up to (Sunday Telegraph)

Matthew D'Ancona has some advice for the PM in the lead up to the local elections.

8. Breivik is right — he is not getting true justice (Sunday Times)

Dominic Lawson argues that far from being a sign of the superiority of the Norwegian legal system, the lenience extended to Breivik is deeply flawed.

9. On extracting gas from rock, or putting it in there, the greens are equally confused (Sunday Telegraph)

Christopher Booker doesn't much like low-carbon technologies.

10. Fracking is a highly explosive issue (Independent on Sunday)

DJ Taylor argues that fracking just postpones the inevitable: fossil fuels will run out someday.

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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David Cameron’s starter homes: poor policy, but good politics

David Cameron's electoral coalition of buy-to-let retirees and dual-earner couples remains intact: for now.

The only working age demographic to do better under the Coalition was dual-earner couples – without children. They were the main beneficiaries of the threshold raise – which may “take the poorest out of tax” in theory but in practice hands a sizeable tax cut to peope earning above average. They will reap the fruits of the government’s Help to Buy ISAs. And, not having children, they were insulated from cuts to child tax credits, reductions in public services, and the rising cost of childcare. (Childcare costs now mean a couple on average income, working full-time, find that the extra earnings from both remaining in work are wiped out by the costs of care)

And they were a vital part of the Conservatives’ electoral coalition. Voters who lived in new housing estates on the edges of seats like Amber Valley and throughout the Midlands overwhelmingly backed the Conservatives.

That’s the political backdrop to David Cameron’s announcement later today to change planning to unlock new housing units – what the government dubs “Starter Homes”. The government will redefine “affordable housing”  to up to £250,000 outside of London and £450,000 and under within it, while reducing the ability of councils to insist on certain types of buildings. He’ll describe it as part of the drive to make the next ten years “the turnaround decade”: years in which people will feel more in control of their lives, more affluent, and more successful.

The end result: a proliferation of one and two bedroom flats and homes, available to the highly-paid: and to that vital component of Cameron’s coalition: the dual-earner, childless couple, particularly in the Midlands, where the housing market is not yet in a state of crisis. (And it's not bad for that other pillar of the Conservative majority: well-heeled pensioners using buy-to-let as a pension plan.)

The policy may well be junk-rated but the politics has a triple A rating: along with affluent retirees, if the Conservatives can keep those dual-earner couples in the Tory column, they will remain in office for the forseeable future.

Just one problem, really: what happens if they decide they want room for kids? Cameron’s “turnaround decade” might end up in entirely the wrong sort of turnaround for Conservative prospects.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.