The Pulse Week Three (no elexagon)

Credit: Edited Rachel Reeves image from UK Parliament via CC BY 3.0,, Leeds image by Jonny Gios on Unsplash

The Pulse: Planning pleas, infra Reds, Contract bores

They’re not going to stop asking, Keir!

Another week, another Labour tax-hike denial. Starmer has insisted Labour will not raise taxes on working people, yet council tax plans remain ambiguous. Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said she wouldn’t put her “political energy” into council tax band speculation. Areas in the North such as Burnley and Gateshead have some of the highest council tax rates in the country and in Rachel Reeves’ own constituency, Leeds West, band D homes pay over £2,000 a year to Leeds City Council. Voters will continue to demand more clarity from the Shadow Chancellor.

Shapps sighs and gets real

Grant Shapps signalled a shift in the Conservative campaign’s mood, when he conceded that as a “realist,” a Tory victory is “not likely.” The most glaring polls suggest that his party is heading into near-electoral oblivion with the worst result in their history – some 453 seats are expected to go Labour Red. Tory campaign tactics are shifting from offence to defence, with Reform UK also on their minds – perhaps the biggest battle of this election will be fought between the two shades of right-wing blue.

Evolution of planning

The British Property Federation wants ‘evolution’ rather than ‘revolution’ of planning policy. The trade body argues that to improve planning effectiveness, so-called ‘larger than local’ projects should be done at a strategic level, in order to transcend local politics and prioritise construction. The BPF wants these types of projects to be established as a requirement in the National Planning Policy Framework. Additionally, the BPF wants to start a fresh conversation about the Green Belt, with a focus on quality of green spaces rather than quantity, removing the rigidity of current protections restricting development. Echoes of Labour’s Grey Belt initiative.

Let’s devolve the problem

In line with the desires of the Local Government Information Unit both the Tories and Labour have proved keen to expand devolution nationwide. By 2030 the Conservatives will ensure every part of England that wants a devolution deal has been offered one. The Conservatives would also offering ‘level 4’ devolution powers to areas with directly elected leaders beginning with their own Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen. Labour has called for councils to prepare to join together on sensible economic geographies in order to enhance the devolution framework to encompass every town and city in England.

A hero must also have enemies

Keir Starmer said he’s “willing to make enemies on planning” and believes that he needs to be “tough” and to “change the ways things are done.” Starmer sees planning restrictions as a restraint on his growth plan. He has held discussions with industry figures, specifically asking what has held development back in recent years, subsequently concluding that “all of our projects are massively over budget and overdue because of planning.”

Contract, not manifesto

Farage considers the word ‘manifesto’ to be synonymous with ‘little book of lies,’ – so instead has gone for Contract with the People – and filled it with unsound economic policy. It is no secret that Reform candidates do not need to have a coherent policy to be elected – with some polls showing the first signs of Reform candidates stepping ahead of their Tory rivals. In seats such as Normanton & Hemsworth, just east of Wakefield, Yorkshire –Reform is touted to have 24% of the vote share, compared to the Tory’s 11%. Similar patterns are emerging in other areas such as Barnsley according to Ipsos polling.

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