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Why are Labour targeting Grant Shapps?

"Labour attacks 'Minister for Daybreak'," runs the headline in The Independent this morning. It reports that the Labour Party are complaining about the high profile of the Housing Minister Grant Shapps. They say he is "churning out press releases at the rate of one every four days". They are stung by the large number of TV and radio interviews he undertakes.

Despite the energy media schedule by Shapps I think the Government should be doing more to promote their revival of the right to buy. This important policy has had less media attention than it deserves rather than more. Labour have been allowed to get away without saying whether they support of oppose the increased discounts.

But Shapps is an effective and self confident communicator often tipped as a future Party Chairman. It is difficult to see why the disquiet of the Labour Party should discourage him from touring the studios.

The Shadow Housing Minister Jack Dromey says that some of the press releases make repeat announcements. He also claims that some of the statistics are selective or misleading and he has made a very long complaint about it to Andrew Dilnot, Chairman of the UK Statistics Authority.

Shapps responds:

"Without a single housing policy of their own, the latest Labour Shadow Housing Minister has instead spent his time writing this multi-page letter. Yet he ignores the most serious point of all. Under the nine Labour Housing Ministers who occupied the post in the last Government, house building plummeted to its lowest level since the 1920s. This catastrophic failure locked millions out of home ownership and taken together with the record debts they created, everyone is still paying the price.

"Worse still, not only did his Government fail to build more homes, despite the apparent good times, but they actually introduced programmes designed to destroy entire neighbourhoods. Hence their Housing Market Renewal programme bulldozed 10,000 homes, whilst only replacing 1,000. So just to be clear, no one did more to destroy our nation's homes since the Luftwaffe bombs of WWII.

"By contrast this Government has taken radical action. Reformed the planning system. Introduced the New Homes Bonus. Reinvigorated the Right To Buy with the money raised paying for one for one replacement. Introduced the NewBuy Guarantee meaning 5% deposits are back for new home purchases. And set out our wider plans in the Housing strategy.

"And what does Labour's Housing spokesman do in return? Apologise to those who saw their homes and communities destroyed through their flagship programme? Apologise to the young people who are locked out of the housing market due to the last Government's ramping up of house prices to 10x average earnings?

"No. Instead, perhaps conscious that after two years they've never once called their own House of Commons debate on housing, they resort to boring the stats authority with an incomprehensible rant in the hope that we'll all forget that Labour left housing in a huge mess in this country."


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