Property and the political elite – Jules Birch

Here’s more fallout from Emily Thornberry’s unfortunate Twitter mishap. You’ll remember she tweeted a photo and comment about a house in the Rochester and Strood constituency, and was asked to resign as Labour’s shadow attorney general very soon after. The Mail on Sunday (funny how the Mail seems to be getting all its news from Twitter these days) followed up by running an article on the extremely high value of Labour MPs’ homes.

But the Mail only covered half the story. In its eagerness to attack the Labour Party, it failed to tell us the value of, say, Conservative MPs’ homes.

Never fear! Here’s Jules Birch:

the same thing has happened with a Conservative elite largely based in West London. The flat David Cameron bought for £130,000 as a 25-year-old special advisor looking on as the housing market crashed in 1992 is now worth £1.4 million. When he moved into Downing Street in 2010 he rented out his £2.7 million house in Notting Hill for a reported £6,000 a month. Cameron also owns a £1 million second home in his constituency paid for in part with taxpayer mortgage subsidies. George Osborne is reported to make £10,000 a month from renting out the Notting Hill house that he bought for £1.8 million in 2006 and could now be worth £4 million. He also made a £400,000 profit when he sold his taxpayer-funded constituency second home.

Even these figures are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Tory wealth. According to a report in 2012, the combined wealth of the Cabinet is £70 million. Cameron and Osborne were estimated to be worth £3.8 million and £4.5 million respectively but this does not include the millions more that they stand to inherit. As for Iain Duncan Smith, he lectures social housing tenants about how many bedrooms they are entitled to from the £2 million farmhouse he occupies rent-free on his father-in-law’s estate.

And back in Islington there is one member of the political elite who is definitely not Labour or liberal. Boris Johnson bought a house in Furlong Road in the north of the borough for £470,000 in 1999, sold it for £1.2 million in 2009 and traded up to a £2.3 million home in Colebrooke Row just behind Angel tube station. His sister Rachel strangely neglects to mention this in her Mail on Sunday column on Labour’s ‘posh snobs’.

There is a point to be made that transcends partisan politics, but you should visit Jules Birch’s own site to read it.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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