Ben Wray: Don't panic, but Ruth Davidson may have just done us a small favour

CommonSpace columnist and Common Weal head of policy Ben Wray says progressive Scotland should treat the Scottish Tory leader's venture into housing policy as a challenge

RUTH DAVIDSON has done all of us in Scotland who hate the Tories a favour – she’s helped shaken us out of our sleepy complacency when it comes to housing.

For if we don’t have better ideas than the Scottish Tory leader on improving housing for everyone, then what are we really involved in politics for?

It’s easy to ridicule a Tory talking about housing solutions, and I’m not against doing that - these are the people that created what Davidson herself called the biggest housing crisis since the Second World War. No one seriously believes it’s credible that they could be the same people to fix it, or that they genuinely want to.

READ MORE: Ruth Davidson calls for new Scottish towns as critics blast Tory record on housing

That may well be necessary comment - but that’s the easy bit. The far more interesting way to rebuke Davidson is to take her speech as a challenge: what are the limitations of her argument, what’s our alternative policy prescription?

In her speech last week Davidson avoided all of the housing issues which impinge upon her core support's vested interests: the huge concentration of land ownership in the hands of the rich, the need for mass public housebuilding to address the inherent inequality of a privatised housing market, and the need to rein in landlords charging sky-high rents while providing shoddy accommodation. 

Despite the rhetoric about a property oligarchy, her policy prescriptions mainly revolved around targeting changes in government through the planning system. The banks, the property developers and the landlords were all missing from the Scottish Tory leader’s fire - funnily enough.

But, once again, critique is not enough. The challenge is to show we have a systematic alternative to a Tory approach to solving the housing crisis.

Common Weal is seeking to take this challenge up in a serious way. Not through empty soundbites about affordable housing and five-year building targets, but through building a credible, transformative plan for housing, communities and places in Scotland.

READ MORE: Housing convention for “progressive Scotland” to precede SNP conference

Our first step in doing that is a major convention on 7 October in Glasgow, which we launched on Tuesday.

The convention will be a starting point for bringing together some of Scotland’s best thinkers on this issue to develop ideas on the full range of issues - land, planning, construction, architecture, cost, tax, design, and much more - which housing impinges upon, and developing that vision collaboratively.

We have picked 7 October specifically because it is the day before the SNP’s annual conference, and we hope to attract delegates to come a day early and join the discussion, then hopefully take some of those ideas into the party’s internal debates.

The idea of the convention is to avoid the trap of segregating the housing issue in to one of two silos: the gritty economics and policy of addressing housing need on the one side, and the visionaries in the urban design and architecture world looking at how to create beautiful places on the other side.

This separation splits apart what is in the real world a unified crisis - the economic and alienation crisis of our homes, communities and places. 

The convention will start a 12-month Common Weal project to develop a credible, coherent policy vision for the transformation of homes, communities and places in Scotland. 

It is the same systemic problem of housing being treated as a financial asset rather than a social good which creates unaffordable housing and homes with insufficient space and light; which creates gentrification and the lack of access to local amenities and public services in housing estates; and which creates dangerously poor health and safety and communities stuck on a motorway on the edge of cities with no access to green space.

So our convention will put economists in the same room as urban designers, planners in the same room as campaigners, academics in the same room as service providers.

The convention will start a 12-month Common Weal project to develop a credible, coherent policy vision for the transformation of homes, communities and places in Scotland. 

We don’t want to reinvent the wheel - we know there’s lots of good work that has and is already being done in Scotland on the issue. Our aim is to promote the best of the ideas which are out there and build and develop further the ideas that still need more work.

The Programme for Government contained many positive signals, not least the increased urgency in which the Scottish Government looks to be trying to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping and the examination of a Land Value Tax, but a much more comprehensive overhaul of the housing system still needs to be pursued.

The Grenfell Tower tragedy - conspicuously missing from Davidson’s speech – should have been the only wake-up call we need when it comes to just how unjust our current housing model is. Let’s get to work together on addressing it.

Picture courtesy of the Scottish Parliament

Look at how important CommonSpace has become, and how vital it is for the future #SupportAReporter

Comments

BobCWGlasgow's picture

BobCWGlasgow

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 17:18

Well said, Ben! I'll be there!

evanmas04

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 19:18

Why could my Husband not be loyal to me, respect me as his wife, love me and only me without breaking our marriage vows? My Husband’s behaviors caused me to think maybe we were not meant to be together. It hurts to the bone when your life partner turns against you, making you sad instead of being your motivator, always engaging you in constant argument and confusion with the kids. The worst is him being unfaithful, seeing other women is like stabbing you in the back. My better half caused me so much pain for over 2years and 4months, we reassembly separated like 6weeks because his continuous reckless behavior became unbearable. I searched for permanent solution to get him back to us both physical and spiritual throughout the entire 6weeks. I was lucky to have Dr. Wakina (dr.wakinalovetemple@gmail.com) handle my case after reading alot of his spell stories. “Can you help me get my Husband back” was the request I made and the rest is history. My marital home is even better since the love spell changed and brought back my Husband. Dr. Wakina made me believe in second chance.

katejames

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 23:17

My husband proposed to me again in November 2016, and by Christmas 2016 he was asking for a divorce. He had fallen in love with a gal at work. I struggled to save my marriage, I changed everything. He struggled with who he wanted to be with. The new gal, who has no history and family with him or me, his wife of 24 years. He struggles with depression, refuses to take his medication and drinks. We are officially divorced now, I’m devastated. He is dating the gal from work, living the free life. I’m trying to pick up the pieces and finish raising our boys. I love him more than anything, and I pray that he figures it out and comes home. Not sure this will happen, but I want to help him, because i love him so much my husband is the best that has happen to me in life i was really desperate and ready to do any thing to bring him back home. so one day going through the internet, i saw a post of a lady call Junia Noel testify on how this man help her out with her situation when her husband also left her with out no reason, so i was over joy to see her testimony that Dr MARVIN help her out so i pick a challenge and email him urgently at MARVINLOVESPELL011@GMAIL.COM give him all details he wanted and he respond also to my email with in 30 mins, and gave me the reassurance that my husband will come back after the love spell i never believe in love spell, or magic so i gifted and put my faith on him, so the next day after the spell like he promise, my phone ring guess who it was my husband calling i pick up and he was crying and begging for what he did to me and our son.this time i was so surprise coz i never believe my husband will call and come back home today am fill with joy and happiness coz love and happiness is the key of life indeed Dr MARVIN is a real man a father and a savoir plz email him if you have any difficulty getting your husband back, or stop your marriage from divorce, get your ex boyfriend and girlfriend back now at MARVINLOVESPELL011@GMAIL.COM or call his mobile number on +2349059897314

MauriceBishop

Fri, 09/08/2017 - 13:42

"all of us in Scotland who hate the Tories "

Ben Wray, you style yourself as "Head of Policy & Research at Common Weal".

I'd like to point out policy is best done by people who apply rational analysis to facts. Not by people who emote.

reetasaba

Sat, 09/09/2017 - 09:12

My husband left me with 3 Children and went to stay with his Mistress whom i felt use a spell on him, I felt like ending it all, i almost committed suicide because he left us with nothing, i was emotionally down. But all thanks goes to Dr Kasee, who i met online on one faithful day, as I was searching for tips to get my husband back home, I came across several testimonies about this particular man. Some people testified that he brought their Ex lover back, some testified that he help them to get pregnant,cure cancer,and other sickness, some testified that he prayed to stop divorce and get a good paying job and so on. He is amazing, i also come across one particular testimony, it was about a woman called Stella Kyes, she testified about how he brought back her Ex lover in less than 2 days, and at the end of her testimony she dropped his email (onimalovespell@gmail.com) After reading all these testimonies, I decided to give it a try. I contacted him via email (onimalovespell@gmail.com) and explained my problem to him. In just 48hours, my husband came back to me. We resolved our issues, and we are even happier than ever. Dr Kasee you are a gifted man and thank you for everything you had done in my life. If you have a problem and you are looking for a real and genuine spell caster, Try him anytime, he is the answer to your problems. you can contact him on email: ONIMALOVESPELL@GMAIL.COM and he will help you solve your problem

CassieTiffany

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 06:24

Glorious be unto happy love spell the man who make me see reasons that there are still real and genuine spell casters like him. since 3 weeks now i have witness what is called heart broken. my boyfriend that promised me marriage failed me and impregnate me and leave,he dump me,he stop calling" he stop picking my calls,and he no longer respond to me. I have be looking for solution,I fall into the hands of fake spell caster,they rough me off and took my money without help.I have cried,I have weep"and tears runs out of eyes. the silentness in my heart brought me to the deepest path of failure that I lost my job. crying all day,because my life was lonely. so thanks to Dr happy who came into my life and brought me the greatest joy that was lost. i saw his web on http://happylovespell2.webs.com/ while browsing and I contacted him, tell him what am passing through with no doubt because of what i saw about him,was enough to believe. and i was given words of solution on what to do. i can't really help thinking about it i have tried to see what i can do, i manage to provide him half of the money for the spell, and he help me with the rest. after casting the spell, 12hrs later, here comes my boyfriend with a rose flower on his hand and i was even about going out,i saw him in front of my door when he sees me he knee and said he is dying i should forgive him and accept him back he was crying,i can't wait to let him finish I quickly crab him and kiss him, just then" he said he is restless without me, just as the Dr happy said it will be. he brought out a ring and put it on my hand. our wedding day was scheduled,1 week after we got married. today makes it a month and we are living happily I don't know how to praise him enough, he has done me a thing i can never forget in my life. and i can't really share to myself alone, I want you all to help me praise him because if it wasn't for him, i already plan of committing suicide. but right now am now so happy more than i was before. if you fine it difficult to get your ex boyfriend back, contact him via..... email happylovespell2@gmail.com also make a view at his web site: http://happylovespell2.webs.com/ or add him on whats-app +2348133873774

CommonSpace journalism is completely free from the influence of advertisers and is only possible with your continued support. Please contribute a monthly amount towards our costs. Build the Scotland you want to live in - support our new media.