New Statesman events at Labour conference 2013

What to look out for in Brighton, including events with Chuka Umunna, Rachel Reeves, Andy Burnham, Sadiq Khan, Diane Abbott and Lord Adonis.

All events are free to attend and open to the public.

Sunday 22 September

Chuka Umunna MP in conversation with New Statesman

Chuka Umunna MP, Shadow Business Secretary

12:30-1:30pm, Tennyson room, Thistle Hotel

Diane Abbott MP in conversation with New Statesman

Diane Abbott MP, Shadow Public Health Minister

2-3pm, Wordsworth room, Thistle Hotel

Why invest in UK life sciences?

Shabanna Mahmood MP, Shadow Science and Higher Education Minister

5:30-6pm, Tennyson room, Thistle Hotel

Smart Grids: Is this the way of selling low carbon policies to sceptics?

Tom Greatex MP, Shadow Energy and Climate Change Minister

5:30-6:30pm, Wordsworth room, Thistle Hotel

Home Front: The battle for a sustainable housing market

(invite only)

Jack Dromey MP, Shadow Housing Minister

8-9:30pm, Hall 7 Room D, The Hilton

Monday 23 September

What next for the criminal justice system?

Rt. Hon Sadiq Khan MP, Shadow Lord Chancellor, Shadow Justice Secretary and Shadow London Minister

9-10am, Tennyson room, Thistle Hotel

Where now for aid to Syria and what role for Britain?

Rushanara Ali MP, Shadow International Development Minister

5:30-6:30pm, The Sandringham room, The Hilton

Could aid be effective without advocacy?

Cathy Jamieson MP, Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury

Rt. Hon Peter Hain MP

5:30-7pm, Wordsworth room, Thistle Hotel

Jobs for young people: how do we solve the problem?

Lord Adonis, Shadow Infrastructure Minister and former Transport Secretary

5:30-6:30pm, Tennyson room, Thistle Hotel

Rachel Reeves MP in conversation with New Statesman

Rachel Reeves MP, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

7:15-8pm, Tennyson room, Thistle Hotel

Tuesday 24 September

Innovation: what does the NHS need to do?

Andrew Gynne MP, Shadow Health Minister

8:30-9:30am, Tennyson room, Thistle Hotel

Is integration enough to save the NHS?

Rt. Hon Andy Burnham MP, Shadow Health Secretary

12-1pm, Wordsworth room, Thistle Hotel

Will competition and choice open up the banking sector?

Chris Leslie MP, Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury

4:45-5:45pm, Wordsworth room, Thistle Hotel

Is a cap on immigration a cap on growth?

Chris Bryant MP, Shadow Immigration Minister

5:30-6:30pm, Tennyson room, Thistle Hotel

Wednesday 25 September

From prevention to survival: the cancer pathway at every step

Lord Hunt, Shadow Health Spokesperson

9-10am, Tennyson room, Thistle Hotel

A workman fixes a Labour Party Conference banner to a fence outside the conference centre on September 21, 2013 in Brighton. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Why Chris Grayling is Jeremy Corbyn's secret weapon

The housing crisis is Labour's best asset - and Chris Grayling is making it worse. 

It feels like the classic Conservative story: wait until the election is over, then cancel spending in areas that have the temerity to vote Labour. The electrification of rail routes from Cardiff to Swansea – scrapped. So too is the electrification of the Leeds to Manchester route – and of the Midland main line.

But Crossrail 2, which runs from north to south across London and deep into the capital's outer satellites, including that of Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, will go ahead as planned.

It would be grim but effective politics if the Conservatives were pouring money into the seats they won or lost narrowly. There are 25 seats that the Conservatives can take with a swing of 1 per cent from Labour to Tory, and 30 seats that they would lose with a swing of 1 per cent from Tory to Labour.

It wouldn’t be at all surprising if the Conservatives were making spending decisions with an eye on what you might call the frontline 55. But what they’re actually doing is taking money away from north-west marginal constituencies – and lavishing cash on increasingly Labour London. In doing that, they’re actually making their electoral headache worse.

How so? As I’ve written before, the biggest problem for the Conservatives in the long term is simply that not enough people are getting on the housing ladder. That is hurting them in two ways. The first is straightforward: economically-driven voters are not turning blue when they turn 30 because they are not either on or about to mount the first rungs of the housing ladder. More than half of 30-year-olds were mortgage-payers in 1992, when John Major won an unexpected Conservative majority, while under a third were in 2017, when Theresa May unexpectedly lost hers.

But it is also hurting them because culturally-driven voters are getting on the housing ladder, but by moving out of areas where Labour’s socially-concerned core vote congregates in great numbers, and into formerly safe or at least marginal Conservative seats. That effect has reached what might be its final, and for the Conservatives, deadly form in Brighton. All three of the Brighton constituencies – Hove, Brighton Kemptown and Brighton Pavilion – were Conservative-held in 1992. Now none of them are. In Pavilion they are third, and the smallest majority they have to overcome is 9,868, in Kemptown. The same effect helped reduce Amber Rudd’s majority in Hastings, also in East Sussex, to 346.

The bad news for the Conservatives is that the constituencies of Crawley, Reading, Swindon and in the longer-term, Bracknell, all look like Brightons in the making: although only Reading East fell to Labour this time, all saw swings bigger than the national average and all are seeing increasing migration by culturally-driven left-wing voters away from safe Labour seats. All are seeing what you might call “Hackneyfication”: commuters moving from inner city seats but taking their politics with them.

Add to that forced migration from inner London to seats like Iain Duncan Smith’s in Chingford – once a Conservative fortress, now a razor-thin marginal – and even before you add in the appeal of Jeremy Corbyn’s person and platform, the electoral picture for the Conservatives looks bleak.

(It should go without saying that voters are driven by both economics and culture. The binary I’ve used here is simplistic but helpful to understand the growing demographic pressures on the Conservatives.)

There is actually a solution here for the Tories. It’s both to build more housing but also to rebalance the British economy, because the housing crisis in London and the south is driven by the jobs and connectivity crisis in the rest of the United Kingdom.

Or, instead, they could have a number of measures designed to make London’s economy stride still further ahead of the rest, serviced by 5 per cent mortgages and growing numbers of commuter rail services to facilitate a growing volume of consumers from London’s satellite towns, all of which only increase the electoral pressures on their party. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.