These are the most average homes in London: can you afford them?

House prices in London continue to rise far too quickly, with the effect of steadily reducing the quality of "average" housing.

House prices in Greater London jumped by an average of £50k last month, according to Rightmove, in a trend that it has called “unsustainable”.

The typical Londoner's response to this has been "yes, what else is new?" - it's not like it's a surprise to hear these things any more, even if the scale of the rise is quite astonishing. House prices have knock-on implications. Higher house prices mean higher average market rents, and that in turn drags up the pegged-at-80-percent-of-market-rents definition of “affordable housing”.

So the average matters. But what is it? Instead of relying on Rightmove, the Land Registry records every housing transaction every month. It's a little behind Rightmove - its records are updated when a property deal is completed, whereas Rightmove is talking about what houses have been listed as on its site in August - but it's comprehensive, and best of all it gives the address of each home.

It says that the average price of a property in Greater London is £359,650. What’s that going to buy you these days? 

Well, for starters, a flat in this building in Surbiton (that’s zone 6):

One of these terraced houses in Brent, with a garden that overlooks a railway depot:

A flat in this block in Battersea, which - until the Northern Line extension arrives later this decade - suffers from being in a public transport hole:

And if you’re a family wanting a home, there’s this quite nice new-build - but it’s in Biggin Hill, next to the air base there, and half an hour’s drive from any station to get you into London proper:

These homes cost £359,950 each, which is more than double the average house price for England and Wales. That's £164,654.

If you're someone who's moved to the capital recently from elsewhere in the country, and you can only afford something close to what you just sold, then it's even more depressing. Searching for properties sold for close to the England and Wales average gets you things like a flat in this building in Enfield:

Or a flat in this building in Bexley:

The things that link these properties - they're small, they're not close to the city centre, their transport links are mediocre, they're too small for families with more than one child - are all bad, and getting worse value for money with every passing month. I'd say it's a rubbish time to be a middle class Londoner, but when so much of your income is going on rent or a mortgage it's worth asking whether the middle class will be able to afford to be middle class at this rate. And as for the poor, Slough, Bradford and Leicester await.

(All screenshots taken from Google Street View.)

Ian Steadman is a staff science and technology writer at the New Statesman. He is on Twitter as @iansteadman.

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Four times Owen Smith has made sexist comments

The Labour MP for Pontypridd and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership rival has been accused of misogynist remarks. Again.

2016

Wanting to “smash” Theresa May “back on her heels”

During a speech at a campaign event, Owen Smith blithely deployed some aggressive imagery about attacking the new Prime Minister. In doing so, he included the tired sexist trope beloved of the right wing press about Theresa May’s shoes – her “kitten heels” have long been a fascination of certain tabloids:

“I’ll be honest with you, it pained me that we didn’t have the strength and the power and the vitality to smash her back on her heels and argue that these our values, these are our people, this is our language that they are seeking to steal.”

When called out on his comments by Sky’s Sophy Ridge, Smith doubled down:

“They love a bit of rhetoric, don’t they? We need a bit more robust rhetoric in our politics, I’m very much in favour of that. You’ll be getting that from me, and I absolutely stand by those comments. It’s rhetoric, of course. I don’t literally want to smash Theresa May back, just to be clear. I’m not advocating violence in any way, shape or form.”

Your mole dug around to see whether this is a common phrase, but all it could find was “set back on one’s heels”, which simply means to be shocked by something. Nothing to do with “smashing”, and anyway, Smith, or somebody on his team, should be aware that invoking May’s “heels” is lazy sexism at best, and calling on your party to “smash” a woman (particularly when you’ve been in trouble for comments about violence against women before – see below) is more than casual misogyny.

Arguing that misogyny in Labour didn’t exist before Jeremy Corbyn

Smith recently told BBC News that the party’s nastier side only appeared nine months ago:

“I think Jeremy should take a little more responsibility for what’s going on in the Labour party. After all, we didn’t have this sort of abuse and intolerance, misogyny, antisemitism in the Labour party before Jeremy Corbyn became the leader.”

Luckily for Smith, he had never experienced misogyny in his party until the moment it became politically useful to him… Or perhaps, not being the prime target, he simply wasn’t paying enough attention before then?

2015

Telling Leanne Wood she was only invited on TV because of her “gender”

Before a general election TV debate for ITV Wales last year, Smith was caught on camera telling the Plaid Cymru leader that she only appeared on Question Time because she is a woman:

Wood: “Have you ever done Question Time, Owen?”

Smith: “Nope, they keep putting you on instead.”

Wood: “I think with party balance there’d be other people they’d be putting on instead of you, wouldn’t they, rather than me?”

Smith: “I think it helps. I think your gender helps as well.”

Wood: “Yeah.”

2010

Comparing the Lib Dems’ experience of coalition to domestic violence

In a tasteless analogy, Smith wrote this for WalesHome in the first year of the Tory/Lib Dem coalition:

“The Lib Dem dowry of a maybe-referendum on AV [the alternative vote system] will seem neither adequate reward nor sufficient defence when the Tories confess their taste for domestic violence on our schools, hospitals and welfare provision.

“Surely, the Liberals will file for divorce as soon as the bruises start to show through the make-up?”

But never fear! He did eventually issue a non-apology for his offensive comments, with the classic use of “if”:

“I apologise if anyone has been offended by the metaphorical reference in this article, which I will now be editing. The reference was in a phrase describing today's Tory and Liberal cuts to domestic spending on schools and welfare as metaphorical ‘domestic violence’.”

***

A one-off sexist gaffe is bad enough in a wannabe future Labour leader. But your mole sniffs a worrying pattern in this list that suggests Smith doesn’t have a huge amount of respect for women, when it comes to political rhetoric at least. And it won’t do him any electoral favours either – it makes his condemnation of Corbynite nastiness ring rather hollow.

I'm a mole, innit.