He may have been eclipsed by the fury surrounding Angela Rayner’s description of Tories as “scum,” but on the Sunday afternoon of her Party conference, Labor revealed a pivot in its political narrative.

Standing in front of a packed hall of delegates, Lucy Powell, the fictitious new Secretary of State for Housing, gave her first conference speech in the role. She made a big argument: Labor is “the party of landlords and tenants”, while the Conservatives are “the party of speculators and developers”.

It marked a watershed moment for Labor, who had previously positioned themselves as the social housing and tenants rights party while the Tories are the self-proclaimed homeownership party.

Powell said housing was “at the heart of the battle for Downing Street”. This is true for two reasons: Britain is currently facing a huge housing crisis, and housing, or rather the growing number of homeowners in Britain over the past four decades, presents a huge electoral problem for citizens. Labor.

Powell directly addressed the cataclysmic government failure of thousands of people still living in dangerous, unsaleable homes years after the Grenfell Tower fire. They are also landlords, mostly leasehold owners – many of whom have used government-backed affordability programs like shared ownership and purchase assistance to access the ownership ladder.

In her speech, Powell announced his intention to give first-time buyers a first look at new developments and to end what she calls “the scandalous practice of foreign hedge funds buying parts of new homes, off-plan.” It is something that has been seen all over the country. This is a particularly big problem in Manchester, but there are also blocks in Leeds and Bradford where the apartments are owned by foreign owners. It also had an impact all over London.

The definition of “affordable” housing is elastic, but in recent years it has been stretched to the breaking point. Powell has that in his sights as well. Currently, the definition of affordable rent in many places includes properties that cost up to 80 percent of market rents. She said I that under Labor this would be reduced to a third of local household income. This would go a long way in making housing affordable, as it is generally accepted that people should not spend more than a third of their income on housing costs. As it stands, “affordable” is defined in relation to an overheating market and not in relation to what people actually earn.

For those affected by the hazardous siding and other fire safety concerns that have come to light in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, Powell said Labor would legislate to ensure tenants could never be invited to finance remediation work.

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Labor would also set up a construction agency, she continued, “to assess, repair and finance and then certify all high-rise buildings.” Then sue those responsible for the costs. It’s logic. The whole mess is the result of the state’s failure to properly regulate the construction industry, so it’s only fair for the state to step in and fix it.

“The Conservatives know they have a problem here,” said Powell. “I suspect that’s why we changed secretary of state, but we need intervention on a scale that we just haven’t seen from the government.”

Powell is right: the government knows it has a housing problem. Labor too, and the policy package it announced in Brighton, with its explicit recognition of many people’s ambition to own a home, has been the party’s closest to resolving it in years.

Labor suffered four crushing defeats in a row in the general election. Today, most English people (63%) own their home. Those who don’t want it and fear it will never happen to them. Large-scale homeownership in this country is a relatively recent phenomenon, but since it has become the norm, homeowners are more likely to vote conservative. Indeed, as Oxford geographer Danny Dorling noted, the 1997 general election was the first (and only) in which Labor received more support than the Conservatives in the owner-occupiers of the UK housing market. That was over a decade ago now.

Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, former shadow housing secretary John Healey announced a similar ambitious list of housing reform. However, he failed to capture the imagination of voters. And so, to win in this context, in a country where home ownership has become the British dream, and many voters have come to celebrate rising house prices in the hope that they could make some money. on their house will be a challenge, does Powell think Labor can do it?

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“Everything is a challenge for Labor at the moment,” she said. “But I see no contradiction in our promotion of tenants’ rights, a new regulation that includes a massive increase in social and social housing, ending the right to purchase and also promoting home ownership – not for more than owners or second homes – but for ordinary workers I mentioned in my speech: nurses, electricians, delivery drivers and caregivers who are currently overpriced. ”

“Everything is linked,” she added. “If one piece of the housing market is broken, it puts pressure on other parts of the system.” Workers’ aspirations for home ownership, insisted Powell, “will be met by Labor.”

“Housing is a central issue that people have been concerned about for years, but politics has been slow to catch up. I think the housing crisis and the way people see their homes are big, questionable issues for the next election. ”

Labor, unlike the Tories, “do not see housing policy in the context of assets, trade and markets,” Powell concluded. “This is the fundamental division of politics today. ”

“We have a very different view of the world and at the heart of it is the fundamental right to a stable, warm and secure home from which you can build a successful and happy life. ”