Revealed: Hidden agenda behind Express attack on housing minister

Today's Daily Express front page criticising Housing Minister John Healey is yet another example of the Express at its hypocritical, biased worst.

Today’s Daily Express front page attack on housing minister John Healey – saying he “insulted” struggling homeowners in a radio interview – is yet another example of the Express at its hypocritical, biased worst.

The article:

• Is written by the wife of the Tory housing renewal minister

• Fails to mention the repossession rate under the Tories was nearly double the rate it is under Labour

• Takes Healey’s remarks completely out of context

• Criticises his expenses – the author making no mention of her husband’s house “flipping” and £66,000 expenses claim, including £3,000 for a “Berber” carpet and a £300 pool cleaning bill

Report author Sarah O’Grady is the wife of the Conservative MP for Peterborough, Stewart Jackson, shadow minister for communities and local government since January 2008.

He has responsibility for the fire service, flooding, housing renewal areas and the Thames Gateway and is currently writing a green paper on regeneration for the Tory manifesto.

Her report quotes Healey’s remarks in the BBC radio interview:

“For some people it can be the only, and it can in fact be the best, option for them to allow their home to be repossessed. Sometimes it is impossible for people to maintain the mortgage commitments they’ve got. It may be the best thing in those circumstances.”

Which suddenly becomes:

“It’s OK to lose your home”

On repossessions, O’Grady writes that:

“The figure is the highest since 1995 and a significant 15 per cent increase on 2008, said the Council of Mortgage Lenders.”

Yet once again, the Tory housing renewal minister’s wife fails to put this in context. Comparing recent years with the early nineties, the figures show that:

• In 1991, 75,500 properties were repossessed (0.77% of all mortgages) – in 2009, 46,000 properties were repossessed (0.43%)

• In 1992, 350,000 househoulds were in arrears (3.6% of mortgages) – in 2009, 188,330 househoulds were in arrears (2.5%)

• In 1991, there were 9.8 million mortgages (and 13,050,000 homeowners) – in 2008, there were 11.1 million (14,628,000)

In the three years following his election in 2005, O’Grady’s husband claimed £66,722 for their house.

This included £2,545 in solicitors’ fees, a £2,412 initial mortgage charge, £1,836 in mortgage broker fees, £1,430 for the installation of security gates at the house, carpentry bills and repairs to his television aerial, £1,145.63 solicitors’ conveyancing costs, £1,336 in mortgage fees, £775 for plumbing work in his “summer room”, £705 for a survey, £600 to his building society and £435 for insurance.

He also claimed more than £1,300 for “household expenditure” from John Lewis, bedding, kitchenware, lightbulbs and £200 for a new refrigerator. Additionally, O’Grady’s husband claimed £3,000 for a “100 per cent wool berber carpet” for the house and £741 for a king-size bed – both of which, presumably, she benefited from.

Last week, he was ordered to repay a £304.10 claim for “swimming pool maintenance” in July 2006 by the Legg review.

21 Responses to “Revealed: Hidden agenda behind Express attack on housing minister”

  1. Dpoc41

    RT @leftfootfwd: Revealed: Hidden agenda behind Express attack on housing minister: //is.gd/8elL3

  2. Peter Carrol

    It is pretty obvious Healey doesn’t think repossession is a good thing. He is just saying that there comes a moment when it is better to have your home repossesed than to have to suffocate in debt. He is saying sometimes it is the best option, which is right.

    There are so many real arguments to have, typical right-wing press bluster…

  3. Martin Johnston

    RT @leftfootfwd: Revealed: Hidden agenda behind Express attack on housing minister: //is.gd/8elL3 #reasonsnottovotetory

  4. Anon E Mouse

    Shamik – How refreshing to actually have a Labour minister telling the truth.

    Why is it everyone screams about the fact Labour ministers are always lying and spinning yet when one tells the truth, as it clearly is, they get criticised?

    I would say though that the usual smearing of the messenger (stop doing it please LFF – it will come back at some point and bite you…) is not attractive and only devalues a perfectly valid article.

    Either the story is true or it’s not. I heard what he said live on R5 Shamik, you do not need to add the insults.

    In your world Shamik, since her husband is a Tory, does that mean that it was Jack Straw who smoked dope and not his son, Will?

    (Sorry Will – I just use that to illustrate a point, not as a means of criticism , what you do is your business)

  5. Shamik Das

    Anon, I don’t quite see the point you’re making.

    Let me just re-iterate my point about the author: She has a go at Healey’s expense claims, yet her own husband is no saint. She could have written the repossessions story without mentioning Healey’s expenses – you’ll have to ask her why she opened that can of worms.

    On the broader point of the relevance of her husband, he is the Tory spokesman for housing renewal – and she is attacking the Labour housing minister. She may have been wise to recuse herself from this report.

  6. Alex Ross

    Revealed: Hidden agenda behind Express attack on housing minister //bit.ly/9kQHJI

  7. Anon E Mouse

    Shamik – Two points. I agree with the minister – he’s right.

    The woman making a complaint about his expenses is entitled to make the comments without being tarnished about things her husband has done.

    We shouldn’t live in a world where she is criticised for the actions of her husband – to do that is an act of misogyny on your part.

    My partner, who is a feminist social worker, also said that to suggest a woman should be judged on the actions of her husband and moderate her behaviour based on something she herself hadn’t done was a “typical male chauvinist” remark.

    Personally I think the story is a good one but to effectively condemn this woman for her husbands actions seems unfair and detracts from an otherwise good article.

    She is entitled to both publish her story and have that story judged on it’s merits and not her husbands bad behaviour.

  8. Why John Healey was right about repossessions | Westminster Blog | FT.com

    […] Left Foot Forward is not happy with the Express coverage of the story. […]

  9. Look Left – The Week in Fast Forward | Left Foot Forward

    […] also gave a particularly illiberal interview to the Express. The face may have been airbrushed changed but it’s the same old Tories. All in all, you […]

  10. Colin Gilbey

    Shamik Daz, good article and well said. Some people are too pure to poop, especially the nameless ones. The press has no integrity whatever.

  11. Anon E Mouse

    Colin – It’s 2010 for goodness sake. Agreeing with Shamik is like wanting to go back to an age before woman got the vote.

    Let me guess Colin. You’re single right?

  12. Shamik Das

    Anon, you still don’t get it do you? It is not sexist, misogynst or harking back to pre-1928 to point out the blatant conflict of interest in O’Grady attacking her husband’s direct political opponent or the hypocrisy of her having a go at John Healey when her husband did exactly the same.

    The more people that know about this, the better.

    If it was the other way round you and the Tory sock-puppets would be up in arms.

  13. Anon E Mouse

    Shamik – To be clear here and please have the courtesy to answer my question.

    (I disagree with this woman’s article and agree with the minister)

    Since you claim to be a “progressive” is your policy to say that because of her husbands actions she is not entitled to express a free opinion?

    Why shouldn’t she do it? What do her husbands actions have to do with her opinion in a free equal society irrespective of who she or he is?

    By your way of thinking can Sarah Brown no longer hold an opinion or have the right to air it? Or anyone else that’s married?

    Seems to me “progressives” are anything but…

  14. Shamik Das

    Anon, the taxpayer has paid for her bed, carpets and all the fittings in her “second home”, claimed for out of expenses by her husband. Quite how she has the gall to criticise Healey for expense abuses is anyone’s guess.

    We’ve got more on her, and the way the Express operates, to come. Watch this space…

  15. Anon E Mouse

    Shamik – She did not claim the expenses, her husband did. End of.

    Your behaviour now in this matter has simply resorted to spiteful and jealous remarks over her husband.

    If you say that it is not OK for her to make those statements then Gordon Brown shouldn’t be doing the same about other MP’s expenses since he stole £12500 from the taxpayer for cleaning. And Cameron for his wisteria.

    The position you advocate means Cherie Blair can no longer act as a lawyer since (some believe – not me) her husband took us into an illegal war.

    Have you not heard the term “The sins of the fathers”?

    The fact is I agree with this article but not attacking someones wife – but your final remark “We’ve got more on her” shows the left and the actions of those such as Derek Draper and Damian McBride, despite Gordon Browns protestations, are clearly alive and well…

  16. Shamik Das

    Let me just say she benefited from those expenses and leave it at that.

    Btw, as someone mentioned before, going into a rant about Iraq, McBride, Gordon Brown etc. in every argument doesn’t assist your case.

  17. Anon E Mouse

    Shamik – And Gordon Brown’s and David Cameron’s and Nick Clegg’s wife didn’t also benefit?

    I’ll leave it at that Shamik – clearly the Labour Party is truly now the Nasty Party. Well Done.

  18. Shamik Das

    None of them attack their husbands’ direct opponents over it in front page national newspaper articles.

    Nor do they try to hide their allegiance.

    I think we’ve published plenty this week indicating the Tories remain the nasty party. Your own nasty hatred of Gordon Brown and Labour means you are unable to see that.

  19. Anon E Mouse

    Shamik – I have no nasty hatred as you put it of Gordon Brown – the man is not important enough to be bothered with and in 90 days he’s history and wait until you see the recriminations then.

    Just because YOU have published stuff calling the Tories nasty doesn’t make it so. “Nah na na nah na you’re a nasty Tory” just makes your arguments look petty and mean.

    My dislike of Brown is the culture that involves bullying and thuggish behaviour of his staff and the reason I mention McBride and Co is because you continue to stick to your “Nasty Party” silly remarks.

    Every time you mention the same thing so do I – the difference is I can back up the things I say yet you continue to make statements with no basis in fact, just your opinion.

    So you say “The Tories are nasty” and I say 10p tax. You say “The mask is slipping” and I say Gurkha’s. And on and on.

    But you never address any points Shamik no matter how often they’re made. Only once have you said in this blog it was wrong of Brown to smear the character of a man in the week his disabled son died.

    As a lifelong Labour voter (nearly) I am ashamed of the fact our party stooped so low to allow that to happen – it’s disgraceful and on that basis I would never call the Tories the nasty party when we have been found wanting.

    My point is I repeat the same narrow things over and over because it is hard with your articles and ironically I agree with a lot of them, to be nuanced in debate because you’ll just shout “I’ve unmasked a denier” or some other childish remark.

    I assumed LFF was the future of the left in the UK and whilst you make it clear from your postings you have no aspirations to hold public office, I assumed, perhaps mistakenly, Will Straw would follow his dad into politics.

    If your attitude to dissenters on this blog is the way of the left in the future, it bears a striking resemblance to the deceitful politics that has become endemic in Labour since Brown took office. To publicly state you’re going to go after this woman only serves to show you shallowness and attract more attention to the story which it doesn’t need.

    Why don’t you try and put forward a coherent strategy for the renewal the left is going to need to undertake after the next election? Why not devote LFF to selling Labour instead of running down the opposition? Why not start being consistent and being positive about Labour?

    Because judging by the word on the street and the opinion polls this approach you take isn’t working and your words may come back in the future to haunt you.

    Come back Tony Blair – all is forgiven.

  20. Shamik Das

    Another long list of perceived grievances. Of course there’s no chance of your words coming back to haunt you, is there, as you’ve never posted under your own name. Why’s that I wonder…

  21. Anon E Mouse

    Shamik – There you go again. Now you are suggesting, because I choose in a public forum not to use my own name, there is something I am hiding. Seems to me anything but.

    And once again you do not make a single comment on anything I have posted just try to suggest something is wrong because I post under a pseudonym. I do not earn my living for writing articles for a blog – if I did I would probably use my own name.

    And your words will come back to haunt you Shamik. We are entering a political world where the right is becoming prominent – look at Europe – and if you think your partisan remarks on a left wing blog will help you in a post Labour Britain you are mistaken.

    In Britain we like honesty and fair play – two attributes you really seem unwilling to display here.

    Do you have absolutely nothing to say that is positive about the Labour Party Shamik? Nothing?

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