Increasingly the question "what would Labour do?" is being asked in the context of planning. If Labour wins the next election, will we see another spell of change in planning law and policy? Well if Ed Miliband's speech yesterday was anything to go by, the answer seems to be that the emphasis on localism will continue - but against a background of, by then, an even greater housing shortfall.
So the ambition is made clear "We’ll say to local authorities that they have a right to grow, and neighbouring authorities can’t just stop them.We’ll identify new towns and garden cities and we’ll have a clear aim that by the end of the parliament Britain will be building 200,000 homes a year, more than at any time in a generation"
And as to the how?" - we’ll say to private developers, you can’t just sit on land and refuse to build. We will give them a very clear message – either use the land or lose the land, that is what the next Labour government will do"
Nationalise development land - hardly a new idea, and given that Ed Miliband's father was a prominent Marxist academic, one which he may well have a natural tendancy towards. But that would sit uncomfortably with deficit reduction or even deficit management. Unless the rules on land compensation are radically changed, and local authorities are much better resourced (and more tightly managed from the centre in many cases), the idea that compulsory purchase powers might make the ambition realistic, is false hope.