DAME Tessa Jowell, the former cabinet minister and somebody who now wants to be mayor of this city, appeared on the BBC’s Sunday Politics earlier today and was asked by Andrew Neil what she felt about ‘not being listened to’ by Ed Miliband over Labour’s election pledge to cap private rents when they jump ahead of inflation. Neil was directly referring to a New Journal article which came from Tessa’s recent visit to help Tulip Siddiq’s parliamentary campaign in Hampstead and Kilburn. For that piece, I asked her directly about the idea of bringing in housing rent caps (note: not rent controls) with the aim of finding out what she thought of the growing talk of the need for caps, particularly in London where the market won’t stop rocketing.
Instead of backing the policy, she said people would have to think carefully about it because of the risk of ‘unintended consequences’. She then went on to list other measures, which she sounded more enthusiastic about. Note again, I didn’t actually ask her about housing rent controls. I asked her about caps.
So, back to Tessa’s interview on the BBC with Andrew Neil today, and his question about why Ed Miliband hadn’t listened to her on a rent capping policy. She responds by saying it was the CNJ that had got her views all confused. Silly old us, although it is a bit strange given that the article was published ten days ago and she has not been in touch with us to ask for a clarification or the website version to be amended. If you watch the interview today, perhaps note the rather exaggerated linger on the word LOCAL when she says ‘that was from an interview I gave to the… A LOCAL paper in north London’; it’s not quite explained why the fact we’re a local paper is relevant to anything but surely she wasn’t suggesting local titles aren’t to be trusted to get it right. She claims, anyhow, we had got confused between housing rent caps and housing rent controls.
I hadn’t asked her about rent controls.
I had asked her only: are you part of the group that say it is time to cap rents in London, or are you a bit unsure about that? She was at best lukewarm about the idea, and clearly urged for some caution about those unexplained ‘unintended consequences’.
Of course, these days, you can all judge for yourself who was zooming who here. Have a listen to the tape…