Posted by: Closed Circuit14/09/2012
It is unfair to describe the government’s approach to housing announcements as ‘policy on the hoof’, especially given the months of planning that goes into them.
It is curious, though, how things still get left until last minute.
The coalition was originally set to unveil its £10 billion housing stimulus package in July, but last minute disputes meant the announcement was bottled. Two months later it seems little progress had been made, and when Inside Housing went to press last Wednesday, there was still confusion.
Just hours before the announcement, internal arguments still hadn’t been resolved and trade bodies were irate about not having been briefed. After a night of hard negotiations, the policy emerged somewhat watered down and riddled with compromises, but still recognisable.
Last Tuesday, as the sector was still waiting to hear whether Grant Shapps was to get his job as Conservative Party chair in the reshuffle, it appeared someone already knew.
A few hours before Mr Shapps was told of his fate, he was listed as party chair on his Wikipedia page. Then, over the weekend, references to donors and blunders disappeared, leading to accusations from shadow housing minister Jack Dromey that his former sparring partner was ‘hiding from his past’. Closed Circuit couldn’t help but chuckle to see the affair has since been added to Mr Shapps’ Wikipedia page.
‘I love deadlines,’ Douglas Adams once wrote. ‘I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.’
It’s a sentiment that should be familiar to those of us cursed with journalism as our career. But politicians may also feel a wince of recognition at the late novelist’s bon mots.
Anyone tracking the housing announcements coming out of Whitehall will feel that timetabling is an inexact science. So it should be with relief that Closed Circuit heard Danny Alexander admit as much during a speech at the London Stock Exchange this week. Fielding a question on when ‘in the autumn’ a report would come out, the chief secretary to the Treasury conceded that ‘seasonal terms have a greater degree of flexibility’ in government. Wags in the audience were left wondering whether the same lack of certitude might apply to any forthcoming winter of discontent…
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From Closed circuit
Gossip, rumour, and stuff that amused us.