Conservatives want to hear more from Caroline Flint

It’sd good news for the Oppositon every time Caroline Flint comes on to the radio and television. Her insouciance to the parlous state of the housing market and her bland reminder than many of us are not about to lose our homes to repossession is allied to a strange silence about housing finance that saps confidence in the government more. It’s bad news for the country that such a crucial part of our economy and markets should be dealt with like this at this critical stage.

I blogged earlier in the year forecasting further heavy declines in housing prices. These are now all too obvious in the monthly and annual figures, as the rises of last year drop out of the yearly stats. I have also pointed out that Ms Flint argues a contradictory case, telling us on the one hand that house prices are the result of supply and demand for new homes, and on the other that in the middle of a crash in new homes prices we need to up the build rate! Her urging more new homes has all the force of Canute telling the waves to go back during a rising tide, as builders cut back in response to the drop in demand.

We also now have her telling us that cutting or suspending Stamp Duty is an option, when in the marketplace uncertainty about the government’s intentions on Stamp Duty is understandably persuading even some of those who can still afford to buy a house to hold off to see if the tax is going to be abated.

If Ms Flint really wants to help the housing market she needs to take actions that would help stabilise prices. It is difficult getting the building industry to increase its build rate all the time prices are falling, and all the time prices are falling it will depress sentiment and drive more people into negative equity. She could, for example, cancel the hated Home Information Packs, agree and announce lower Stamp Duty, and talk to the Chancellor about easing liquidity in money markets more to help with the supply of mortgages.

If she is unable or unwilling to do any of those she would be better not interfering and expressing an opinion – unless her aim is to help the Opposition!

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6 Comments

  1. Stewart Knight
    Posted August 9, 2008 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Caroline Flint…yet another lightweight, if she is even that heavy, promoted way above her abilities and potential. This Government populates it's cabinet with these people who are not now even classed as eye candy.

    I watched her Newsnight interview with Wark and she was woeful, sounded trite and petulant, and basically had nothing to say that didn't at best make the situation worse.

  2. mikestallard
    Posted August 9, 2008 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Ms Flint is completely incompetent. Even I know that you have to scotch rumours, wherever they come from, with a straight answer.
    "Are you going to change stamp duty in the near future?" "No we are not." "Not ever?" "What a silly question!" Etc….
    At first I wanted to switch her off on the three occasions I have heard her waffle. Then, fascinated, I listened. She sounded just like a sit com nagging wife!
    Actually, doesn't the new Eco towns idea come from the Regional Governments and therefore from Europe? And don't the HIPS emanate from the same place?
    If so, a lazy, careless minister would just rubber stamp them through without considering the possibilities.
    You are so right about her being a boon for the opposition!

  3. Johnny Norfolk
    Posted August 9, 2008 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    I think this shows again just how this Labour government has no idea. All they have done is tax and spend. All Labour governments leave office with the country in a worse state than when they came in. With people like Flint it will only become worse.

  4. NotaSheep
    Posted August 11, 2008 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Caroline Flint's replies would have been called callous if made by a Conservative Minister during the 1980s or 1990s. The BBC are keeping this government afloat at present by not attacking them as they did the John Major government.

  5. Keith
    Posted August 11, 2008 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Caroline Flint….one of Labour's greater achievements! What a truly awesome spectacle on Newsnight. She made Dubya look intelligent.

  6. PT
    Posted August 17, 2008 at 3:53 am | Permalink

    Stability in house prices, yes. But only once they've collapsed in value by some 40%.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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