Nick Griffin under investigation by police - but back on Twitter

BNP leader's account reactivated after he was suspended for posting the address of B&B case gay couple online.

With the BNP beset by splits and financial problems, Nick Griffin's decision to publish the address of a gay couple who won a court case against a Christian B&B owner (before encouraging his supporters to demonstrate outside their home) was a transparent attempt to distract from his party's woes. He tweeted:

A British Justice team will come up to [their Huntington address] & give you [the couple, Michael Black and John Morgan] a … bit of drama by way of reminding you that an English couple's home is their castle. Say No to heterophobia!

An earlier message read:

If anyone can give us address of the 2 bullying 'gay' activists who've won case v Christian B&B owners, we'll hold demo … for rights of all home owners, gays included, to rent or not rent rooms to whomsoever they wish

Unsurprisingly, Griffin is now under investigation by Cambridgeshire police, who said they were "looking into" the complaints they had received. A spokeswoman added that "officers will also visit the men mentioned in the tweets as part of our inquiries."

Griffin's Twitter account was suspended after he posted the couple's address but was reactivated this morning, albeit without the offending tweet.

Incidentally, one wonders if we will hear from our new Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, who has previously defended the right of B&B owners to turn away gay couples. In April 2010, he was revealed to have told a Centre For Policy Studies meeting:

I think we need to allow people to have their own consciences. I personally always took the view that, if you look at the case of should a Christian hotel owner have the right to exclude a gay couple from a hotel, I took the view that if it's a question of somebody who's doing a B&B in their own home, that individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn't come into their own home.

In response to yesterday's ruling, Michael Black and John Morgan said:

We're doing this to try and make sure that all B&B owners realise what the law is and think twice before discriminating against gay people, black people, Christians, Muslims, Irish, any other group.

Hear, hear.

British National Party leader Nick Griffin was briefly suspended from Twitter after posting the address of a gay couple who won a court case against a Christian bed and breakfast owner. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political 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.