In 2009 Conservative Home ran an article by Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh and John Moss about the importance of reforming social housing. It said that many of the seats that the Conservatives hoped to win at that time had a high ratio of voters in social housing. Thus improving the chances for this group of people should be recognised as politically important. The article discussed ways of increasing home ownership – with proceeds allowing more new homes to be built. Also of reducing concentrations of worklessness through mised communities.
Anyone who could present the article as a defence of gerrymandering must either be incredibly stupid or dishonest. Yet that is what my local Labour MP Andrew Slaughter has done – with his claims of the blog as evidence reported uncritically in The Guardian this morning. It chimes in with Slaughter's oft repeated lie that if estates are redeveloped in Hammersmith and Fulham the residents will be forced to live in Barking and Dagenham.
Far from advocating gerrymandering the blog by Greenhalgh and Moss said that such political considerations had been an obstacle to achieving the bold reform needed:
Public sector housing is run as a national housing service that fails many of the very people it was designed to help and delivers a risible return on assets. Why has the current social housing system not been overhauled? Politics combines the business of persuasion with the art of the possible. We understand that it is the risk of a political backlash which has stymied the debate over social housing reform. Morrison, Porter and Rachman are three historical figures who must shoulder much of the blame for this.
So the allegation from Slaughter via The Guardian turns out to be the most complete misrepresentation. Not merely untrue but the opposite of the truth.