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Anti-growth coalition

The real enemies of growth

MP Oliver Dowden and local Conservatives opposing development in Surrey

When Liz Truss raged against the “anti-growth coalition” in her party conference speech, many of its “most powerful members” were sitting in front of her, says James Sean Dickson in UnHerd. Again and again, Tory MPs, councillors and voters oppose the construction of everything from houses to solar panel installations. Elderly homeowners “pose in front of derelict industrial wastelands” saved from so-called “inappropriate development”, all “grinning like Alsatians”. This is the simple reason for Britain’s “anaemic” growth rate: we refuse to build infrastructure and housing in our most productive regions, strangling the supply of workers to well-paying jobs. The nation which produced great Victorian engineers like Isambard Kingdom Brunel “has lost its nerve”.

This isn’t due to “big, dark, and powerful forces”, but normal, decent men and women, who understandably object to living next to building sites for months on end. Elderly homeowners are “the largest, most influential voter block in the country” – a crusade against them will never work. Instead, we must “stuff their mouths with gold”. Give them a portion of the money generated by new housing projects; make sure local amenities are suitably scaled up with new residents; and build beautiful houses that aren’t eyesores. And if the Tories are worried about losing suburb constituencies to a tide of left-wing voters priced out of cities, then build more in those cities, so Labour voters stay in Labour seats. If she’s serious about growth, Truss must take the fight to her own party.