In a spat with Jan Moir, Katherine Jenkins stays classy

The singer responds to Jan Moir’s accusation that she was “stealing the limelight” by running the London Marathon.

 

Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir wrote about the singer Katherine Jenkins today, effectively accusing her of the heinous crime of “looking nice while running a marathon”.

Moir wrote:

Among all the runners at the start of the race on Sunday, 32-year-old Katherine was uniquely red carpet magnifico. Her biscuity maquillage was flawless. Hosed on, as they say in the trade. The building trade.

She had lashings of pink lip gloss, sooty false eyelashes and sweeping, coal black eyeliner. Not to mention a perfect silvery manicure, those ever-tanned limbs, her blonde hair pulled back into an immaculate ponytail and raisin-sized diamonds in her ears.

At points during the race she would pop on a pair of £200 Prada sunglasses just to add to her athletic mystique. Perhaps the only miracle was that she didn’t run backwards, in high heels, while singing the Welsh national anthem at the top of her voice.

Apparently, Jenkins “simply can’t help stealing the limelight”, even while raising money for charity.

Not particularly notable in itself, but Jenkins’ response to the column was a supreme example of someone determinedly taking the high road. She posted via Twitter:

I ran on Sunday in memory of my father & to raise money (£25,000) for an excellent charity (@macmillancancer) who helped him when he was dying. Yes, I twittered about it but I did so to share my progress & day with those kind people on twitter who had supported & sponsored me. I ran in sunglasses because it was sunny. I tied my hair back in a pony tail because I expected to sweat. As if you had some insider knowledge you wrote I was wearing eye shadow, eye liner& lip gloss. Wrong again - none of the above - I had Vaseline on my lips, handed to us by St Johns Ambulance on our way round the route.

You can read her full statement here. Bravo, Katherine Jenkins. 

Katherine Jenkins (not running a marathon). Photograph: Getty Images

Caroline Crampton is assistant editor of the New Statesman.

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I was wrong about Help to Buy - but I'm still glad it's gone

As a mortgage journalist in 2013, I was deeply sceptical of the guarantee scheme. 

If you just read the headlines about Help to Buy, you could be under the impression that Theresa May has just axed an important scheme for first-time buyers. If you're on the left, you might conclude that she is on a mission to make life worse for ordinary working people. If you just enjoy blue-on-blue action, it's a swipe at the Chancellor she sacked, George Osborne.

Except it's none of those things. Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme is a policy that actually worked pretty well - despite the concerns of financial journalists including me - and has served its purpose.

When Osborne first announced Help to Buy in 2013, it was controversial. Mortgage journalists, such as I was at the time, were still mopping up news from the financial crisis. We were still writing up reports about the toxic loan books that had brought the banks crashing down. The idea of the Government promising to bail out mortgage borrowers seemed the height of recklessness.

But the Government always intended Help to Buy mortgage guarantee to act as a stimulus, not a long-term solution. From the beginning, it had an end date - 31 December 2016. The idea was to encourage big banks to start lending again.

So far, the record of Help to Buy has been pretty good. A first-time buyer in 2013 with a 5 per cent deposit had 56 mortgage products to choose from - not much when you consider some of those products would have been ridiculously expensive or would come with many strings attached. By 2016, according to Moneyfacts, first-time buyers had 271 products to choose from, nearly a five-fold increase

Over the same period, financial regulators have introduced much tougher mortgage affordability rules. First-time buyers can be expected to be interrogated about their income, their little luxuries and how they would cope if interest rates rose (contrary to our expectations in 2013, the Bank of England base rate has actually fallen). 

A criticism that still rings true, however, is that the mortgage guarantee scheme only helps boost demand for properties, while doing nothing about the lack of housing supply. Unlike its sister scheme, the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, there is no incentive for property companies to build more homes. According to FullFact, there were just 112,000 homes being built in England and Wales in 2010. By 2015, that had increased, but only to a mere 149,000.

This lack of supply helps to prop up house prices - one of the factors making it so difficult to get on the housing ladder in the first place. In July, the average house price in England was £233,000. This means a first-time buyer with a 5 per cent deposit of £11,650 would still need to be earning nearly £50,000 to meet most mortgage affordability criteria. In other words, the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee is targeted squarely at the middle class.

The Government plans to maintain the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, which is restricted to new builds, and the Help to Buy ISA, which rewards savers at a time of low interest rates. As for Help to Buy mortgage guarantee, the scheme may be dead, but so long as high street banks are offering 95 per cent mortgages, its effects are still with us.