Competition - Win a bottle of champagne

No 3721 Set by Tim Hopkins

We asked for acronyms for today's bunch of TV personalities.

Report by Ms de Meaner

I know we gave you the example of Wearily Obsequious - Guests Advertising Nightly, but then, you didn't need his first name, as his programme was actually called Wogan. So I was only inclined to allow single names if: a) that is their one and only (Lulu), or b) I was in no doubt as to who they are (Cilla, Delia, Kilroy, Paxman). I wasn't happy with those who sent in Black, Lane, Robinson or Smith. And as for Ian Birchall's Mockery Eventually Repulses, Turning Out Nauseous! It turned out to be "Mrs". And I had a completely different Merton in mind. £10 to winners; the bottle goes to John O'Byrne. Oh, and a message to Howard Chessman and Alanna Blake: you both scraped in by a whisker - Vanessa is getting slimmer by the day. You should read the more popular papers.

Ladies, You Note His Artful Moustache?

This Is Totally Challenging: Heavy Manure, Anorexic Roots, Squirting Hoses.

Paradigmatic Anchorman: Xeric, Mordant, Aggressive, Notorious.

Secondhand Collectible; Useless Ludicrous Leftovers. Yawn!

Couples Inventing Lies, Lovable Anecdotes - Bountiful Lust Always Camouflaged. Kitsch.

John O'Byrne

Judged Untimely - Lewd Intimate Advises Nobbled Chancellor Lamont. Apology Received Yet?

Publicity - OK! Special, Hello! Special. Personality Invites Constant Exposure.

Come Inside Love. Learn A Basic Life Art - Cheek Kissing.

Unruly Lover Reprehensible In Kicking Affair.

Amid Loam And Nettles This Indifferently Talented Chap Has Media Agog - Ratings Sky High.

Robert Ireland

People's Avenger: Xenophobes Mangled, Archbishops Needled.

Journalist Of Numinous Seductiveness Nightly Opens Wormcans.

Instinctively Amusing Newshound: His Incredible Sommerville Lookalikeness Occasions Protest.

Know-all Infatuates Ladies Reaching Older Years.

Patently - Although Totally Rational - Inhabits Comet Krypton. Marvellous Odour Of Rampant Eccentricity.

Egomaniac Smartarse Tele-Harpy Engenders Revelations

Anne Du Croz

Curly-Haired And Redheaded Landscaper Is Expensively Deployed In Making Many Old Codgers Kinky.

Mordant Elderly Luvvy's Vociferous Yet Nasal Banter Ruins Artily Generalised Gobbledygook.

Carroty Halfwit Reckons It's Sexy Embarrassing Viewers After Naff Swearing.

Miserable Autocue Reader Kebabs Laddish Amateurs Mockingly And Rather Repulsively.

Creepy Hypemeister Roguishly Inveigles Sundry Test Addicts, Requiring Right Answers Nobody Tumbles.

Will Bellenger

Voluminous Amazon Never Evading Spurious Self-Advertising.

Decorously Endorses Limited Ingredients. Accordingly Supermarkets Make Intercession To Her.

Hopeful Ageing Retiree Voluntarily Encourages Yieldless Jinxed Organisations . . . No Evident Success.

Regularly Occasioning Love For Hospitalised Animals - Recovery Reassures, Involving Sentimentality.

Oh! Please Reveal All Here.

Alanna Blake

Easy Speaker? Teeth Hold Everybody Riveted!

Delicacy Expert Lady In Action.

Foments Revelations On Sunday Telly.

Real Ozzie's Love For Hospitalised Animals Raises Roars In Sydney.

Deemed Excessively Aggressive Yet Takes On Nobody.

Happy In Soliciting Litigation Over Publications.

Eric Swainson

Debonair, Easy Smile, Maidenly Orgasms Nightly Delivered Linkman, Yet Naughty Air Manifest.

Potty Astronomer Televisually Reveals Immense Cosmic Knowledge, Moon-gazing Oracle Or Rabelaisian Eccentric?

Wordgame Humorist Invites Televisual Examination, Leaves Everyone Yawning.

Fat, Execrable, Loathsome Talkshow . . . Zzzzzzzzzzz.

Twattish Interviewer Talks Crap Habitually, Makes Also Rather Soporific Horticulturalist.

Howard Chessman

All Ladies Adore Nature-Tamers; It's The Compost Heap Man Attracting Randy Suburban Housewives.

Combines Ignorant Lovers; Lorra Aching Belly-Laughs At Clueless Kissers.

Raconteur Of Lovable Fluffy Hospitalised Animals. Result: Reviewers In Stitches.

Bearded Idiot Loves Lightweight Ornithological Detours Driving In Europe.

D A Prince

No 3724 Set by Leonora Casement

"Politicians" wrote Richard Ingrams in the Observer, "tend to be pretty weird people with more eccentricities and obsessions than most of us." Could we have a speech by a prominent politician in which he valiantly attempts - and amusingly fails - to hide just these failings. Max 200 words and in by 11 April.


This article first appeared in the 03 April 2000 issue of the New Statesman, Englishness: who cares?

Photo: Getty Images
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How can Britain become a nation of homeowners?

David Cameron must unlock the spirit of his postwar predecessors to get the housing market back on track. 

In the 1955 election, Anthony Eden described turning Britain into a “property-owning democracy” as his – and by extension, the Conservative Party’s – overarching mission.

60 years later, what’s changed? Then, as now, an Old Etonian sits in Downing Street. Then, as now, Labour are badly riven between left and right, with their last stay in government widely believed – by their activists at least – to have been a disappointment. Then as now, few commentators seriously believe the Tories will be out of power any time soon.

But as for a property-owning democracy? That’s going less well.

When Eden won in 1955, around a third of people owned their own homes. By the time the Conservative government gave way to Harold Wilson in 1964, 42 per cent of households were owner-occupiers.

That kicked off a long period – from the mid-50s right until the fall of the Berlin Wall – in which home ownership increased, before staying roughly flat at 70 per cent of the population from 1991 to 2001.

But over the course of the next decade, for the first time in over a hundred years, the proportion of owner-occupiers went to into reverse. Just 64 percent of households were owner-occupier in 2011. No-one seriously believes that number will have gone anywhere other than down by the time of the next census in 2021. Most troublingly, in London – which, for the most part, gives us a fairly accurate idea of what the demographics of Britain as a whole will be in 30 years’ time – more than half of households are now renters.

What’s gone wrong?

In short, property prices have shot out of reach of increasing numbers of people. The British housing market increasingly gets a failing grade at “Social Contract 101”: could someone, without a backstop of parental or family capital, entering the workforce today, working full-time, seriously hope to retire in 50 years in their own home with their mortgage paid off?

It’s useful to compare and contrast the policy levers of those two Old Etonians, Eden and Cameron. Cameron, so far, has favoured demand-side solutions: Help to Buy and the new Help to Buy ISA.

To take the second, newer of those two policy innovations first: the Help to Buy ISA. Does it work?

Well, if you are a pre-existing saver – you can’t use the Help to Buy ISA for another tax year. And you have to stop putting money into any existing ISAs. So anyone putting a little aside at the moment – not going to feel the benefit of a Help to Buy ISA.

And anyone solely reliant on a Help to Buy ISA – the most you can benefit from, if you are single, it is an extra three grand from the government. This is not going to shift any houses any time soon.

What it is is a bung for the only working-age demographic to have done well out of the Coalition: dual-earner couples with no children earning above average income.

What about Help to Buy itself? At the margins, Help to Buy is helping some people achieve completions – while driving up the big disincentive to home ownership in the shape of prices – and creating sub-prime style risks for the taxpayer in future.

Eden, in contrast, preferred supply-side policies: his government, like every peacetime government from Baldwin until Thatcher’s it was a housebuilding government.

Why are house prices so high? Because there aren’t enough of them. The sector is over-regulated, underprovided, there isn’t enough housing either for social lets or for buyers. And until today’s Conservatives rediscover the spirit of Eden, that is unlikely to change.

I was at a Conservative party fringe (I was on the far left, both in terms of seating and politics).This is what I said, minus the ums, the ahs, and the moment my screensaver kicked in.

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