Lib Dems shoot down Ed Davey’s bid to woo Tory voters by dropping the party’s annual housebuilding pledge
- Ed Davey wanted to drop the party’s pledge to build 380,000 homes in England
Liberal Democrat members have defied the party leadership by voting to keep the annual housebuilding target.
Sir Ed Davey wanted to drop the party’s pledge to build 380,000 homes in England each year and replace it with a target of 150,000 council houses.
In a bid to win over southern Tory voters, the party leader said that top-down housing targets led to ‘the wrong houses being built in the wrong places’.
But his plans were rejected at the party conference yesterday after members backed a motion from younger activists who said that ditching the pledge risked alienating young voters.
Party bosses are seeking to increase the number of seats at next year’s general election by targeting traditional Tory voters who have grown weary of the Government but would never vote Labour.
Sir Ed Davey wanted to drop the party’s pledge to build 380,000 homes in England each year and replace it with a target of 150,000 council houses
Davey’s plans were rejected at the party conference yesterday after members backed a motion from younger activists who said that ditching the pledge risked alienating young voters
In today’s conference speech, Sir Ed is expected to say: ‘We’ve shown the next election won’t be all about the Red Wall. It’s about the Blue Wall too. Former Tory heartlands where we’ve shown we are the only ones who can win.
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‘People are desperate for change. And while Rishi Sunak clings on – out of touch and out of ideas – our job is to show the British people that positive change is possible. Over the last few years, we have taken big chunks out of the Blue Wall. Our job now is to bring it tumbling down.’
The issue of national housing targets came to light in the Chesham and Amersham by-election in 2021, when the Liberal Democrats overturned a huge majority by capitalising on the local unpopularity of the Government’s housebuilding plans.
During a fiery debate at the party conference in Bournemouth yesterday, former party leader Tim Farron branded housing targets ‘Thatcherism’ and suggested that not scrapping them would be an ‘electoral gift’ to the Tories.
Liberal Democrat housing spokesman Helen Morgan said: ‘National housing targets do not work. They didn’t work a decade ago… they won’t work in the future.’
But Young Liberals chairman Janey Little said the national target was ‘a really important signal that we have the ambition needed to tackle the housing crisis’.
Sir Ed has also announced he will drop a key pledge to put a penny on income tax – which dates back to 1992 – to improve public services.
The party’s tax policy, which will see it now target major companies instead of wealthier individuals, also appears targeted at disgruntled Tories.
In today’s conference speech, Sir Ed is expected to say: ‘We’ve shown the next election won’t be all about the Red Wall. It’s about the Blue Wall too
During an action-packed day, which saw him play a smugglers-themed round of crazy golf, he said: ‘You can’t ask working families to pay more in tax. You just can’t.’
‘In the Blue Wall seats, [in] which we’ve never really been competitive before, the evidence is we’re now becoming super-competitive. It’s Hertfordshire, it’s Bedfordshire, it’s Sussex. If I’d said that in any election in my lifetime you’d have just laughed at me.’
He also visited the Royal National Institute for the Blind stand at Bournemouth International Centre where he tried to make a cup of tea while blindfolded.
Referring to the vote yesterday, Tory former housing secretary Simon Clarke said: ‘The Liberal Democrat leadership has been stopped by their own much wiser members from this appalling mistake.’
Tory housing minister Rachel Maclean said: ‘The Liberal Democrats conference has descended even deeper into farce.
‘The Liberal Democrats cannot be trusted on planning – just take it from Davey.’
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