James Forsyth

Cameron goes Blond

Cameron goes Blond
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In their party political broadcast last night, the Tories endorsed a community right to buy. The idea is that communities would be offered first refusal to take over and run local amenities that are faced with closure. For example, the community would be able to take over a Post Office rather than see it shut down. Community groups would also be able to bid to run publicly provided assets such as libraries. It is a policy that has doorstep appeal and also positions the Tories where they want to be. Thatcher offered individuals a right to buy, Cameron offers communities a right to buy.

The intellectual inspiration for this policy is Phillip Blond, the so-called Red Tory, who first proposed the idea back in July:

'Create a community right to buy. Allow local community groups to register an interest in a local eyesore or decrepit building, whether privately or publicly owned. For a fair market value, such legislation can allow local social enterprises six months to put together a funding package to turn a liability into an asset for a transformative local business.'

Blond is behind much of the Tories’ best thinking at the moment. Note how they adopted his idea for mutualising parts of the NHS. His new think-tank Res Publica is being launched next Thursday with a speech by David Cameron and with mutualism going to be an increasingly important part of the political and policy debate in the coming months expect to see a lot more of Blond’s ideas being adopted by the Tories.

Update: A friend emails to say that this idea was first injected into the policy debate in a green paper called 'Sixty Million Citizens: Unlocking Britain's social capital' which came out when IDS was leader.