Over the course of Conservative Party Conference 2017, housing was a major discussion: from Theresa May's final speech to The Tax Payers Alliance discussing intergenerational unfairness, the topic of housing could not be escaped.
I was struck by the great ideas proposed by MPs such as George Freeman and Richard Graham, which went into great detail on how housing proposals could work. So, through conference many members had the opportunity to submit contributions to the floor.
Many of the speeches were eloquent, passionate, and full of hope. Yet it appeared a good number lacked actual proposals. I sat in the audience thinking congratulations to the speaker, but I was many times perplexed, wondering what they were actually supporting as policy.
Conference should see ideas flow.
So, below is a copy of a speech I would have given on housing. These ideas are yet to be fleshed out, and by no means do I claim to be an expert in this field; however I feel now is the time for us all to stand up and ask for bold, and brave policy ideas.
Ladies and Gentlemen, fellow Conservatives and friends.
I am honoured to stand before you, and address you today.
There is a crisis in this nation that the party, and ourselves, can and must tackle. While it is immediately relevant to young people like myself, I think it is one that we are all complicit in, and victims of.
And the longer we refrain from dealing with it, the worse it will get.
Of course, I am talking about house ownership.
As bold as it sounds, coming from a naive young student, I would like to propose a potential solution to the housing crisis for Conference to explore.
In 2011 there were 63 million people living in the UK. In 2015, there were 64.6 million people residing in this country, an increase of 490,000 from the year before. This is the equivalent of a city the size of Edinburgh.
I’m sure you all see the trend, and realise the implications of such explosive population growth on our housing market.
In 2010 a report on Housing Supply and Demand stated: “it has been clear for some time that housing supply is not keeping up with demand.”
Such a crisis requires bold, proactive solutions. Simply building more houses on the greenbelts of our existing towns isn’t enough - we must build entire cities to ensure we can sustainably manage this level of population growth into the 21st century.
And I believe that the best approach for this ambitious strategy isn’t an overbearing, stagnant, centralised state construction scheme - it’s private enterprise, facilitated by an open and business-friendly Conservative government.
If we meet the national demand for housing, not only will we be building a better Britain for our children, we will reap the electoral rewards of stable and prosperous households in 2022.
We are Conservatives. The party of hard work and aspiration. The party that believes that when you set your mind to something and put in the effort to realise it, that you can be a success regardless of who you are or where you come from.
Yet I stand before you as a young member doubtful that our current housing policy will allow my generation to prosper, doubtful of when or how I will own a home. Such doubt damages both the nation and ourselves.
Historically we have never been afraid to help future generations by correcting our housing market. Think of Thatcher’s sale of council housing, which ushered in a generation of prosperous suburban households. Or, going further back, Stanley Baldwin’s slum clearances, which paved the way for urban regeneration in our great cities.
Our goal as a party is to help people to stand on their own two feet. Not only does this increase national prosperity, it also delivers electoral success.
Although I admit it doesn’t have a great reputation nowadays, I would invite you to think of the success of Milton Keynes. A new city, built specifically to relieve urban sprawl. Off the back of such a daring idea we now have several hundred thousand people homed, living productive, safe and happy lives.
In conclusion: Hard work. Ambition and aspiration. A stable economy. Safe and prosperous people and families. These epitomise our core beliefs. And bold new solutions to our national housing crisis help us realise them.
We are stood at the crossroads. With Brexit approaching, we have a historic opportunity to truly build a Britain that is strong, stable, and Conservative.
Now is the time to be bold and imaginative, to strive for the real tangible change that will sustain us as a movement well into the future.
Now is the time to dare. To paraphrase Portillo, “Who dares… to build… wins”.