John Harris

Journalist & Author

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This Copeland disaster shows just how big Labour’s problems are | John Harris

Saturday, February 25th, 2017

Yes, there are flashes of hope, and campaigning in Stoke was dogged. But the party is racked by a historic crisis that preceded the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn

Amid Trump, and Brexit, and the political hurly-burly that now regularly grips mainland Europe, it is easy to get the impression that politics no longer follows hard-and-fast rules, and amounts instead to a series of unforeseen events and complete accidents.

Still, at the risk of sounding hopelessly old fashioned, let us remind ourselves of the political state we are in, what it would have once have entailed, and what has just happened in Cumbria and Stoke-on-Trent.

Related: The remain vote is now Labour’s urgent priority – Stoke and Copeland prove it | John Curtice

Related: Stoke and Copeland byelections: Corbyn allies blame disunity for Labour’s historic defeat – Politics live

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What’s the point of building a million new homes if they’re not fit to live in? | John Harris

Friday, February 24th, 2017

The dream of a property-owning democracy is ridden with cracks and leaks: ministers say build, build, build – but then fail to ensure proper regulation

They might be the most ubiquitous feature of the modern English landscape, and yet they barely attract any comment: those sprawling newbuild housing developments that seem to surround almost every town and city, offering a promise of comfort and security and a vital foot on the property ladder.

More often than not, their avenues and culs-de-sac will have faux-bucolic names often ending in “meadows”, “mead”, or “wood”. The life therein seems profoundly modern: stripped of much history or sense of shared experience so that everything suggests the weightlessness of suburbia. Yet for all the outward gleam, something is wrong.

Related: Bovis to pay £7m to compensate customers for poorly built homes

It is all there in the Commons report – housebuilders’ own quality control systems are not fit for purpose

Related: Leaking sewage and rotten floorboards: life on a ‘flagship’ housing estate

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‘They don’t care about us’: the anger and apathy behind the Stoke byelection – video

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

As the media get in a lather about the byelection contest between Labour and Ukip, John Harris visits Stoke-on-Trent, the supposed ‘Brexit capital of Britain’. He investigates why so many people there simply don’t vote, and whether the new breed of energetic Labour activists who have arrived in town en masse can somehow change their minds

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Twitter parodies won’t worry Corbyn. But his supporters deserting him should | John Harris

Friday, February 10th, 2017

The Labour leader was mocked for saying ‘the real fight starts now’ over Brexit terms. Where is his party’s competence, vision and strategic nous?

Oh, Labour – 118 characters, 23 words, and the awfulness of the party’s current position has been revealed in full. “Real fight starts now,” tweeted Jeremy Corbyn, or whoever does these things for him, in the aftermath of the House of Commons’ second vote on article 50. “Over next two years Labour will use every opportunity to ensure Brexit protects jobs, living standards & the economy.”

Related: We can’t stop Brexit now, but we can plan for a better Britain | Wes Streeting

@jeremycorbyn *Puts baby in lion’s mouth* “The real fight starts now. Over the next 2 yrs Labour will use every opportuni oh it’s eaten it”

Related: Theresa May’s vision of Brexit is extreme. That’s why I couldn’t vote for it | Rachael Maskell

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Leaking sewage and rotten floorboards: life on a ‘flagship’ housing estate

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

Orchard Village in east London was built in 2014 as a bold replacement for the notorious Mardyke estate, which provided the setting for the gritty film Fish Tank. But conditions are so bad that some residents think it should be demolished

‘Substandard’ housing association scheme faces hundreds of complaints

Colin Nickless and his family moved into their newly built home on the Orchard Village estate in September 2014. They had come to the outer edge of east London to be near a special school for their daughter Ellie, who is autistic and also has cystic fibrosis.

On the face of it, their three-bedroom house – acquired under a shared ownership scheme – was more than satisfactory. Indeed, a year before, the then Tory communities and local government minister Nick Boles had visited Orchard Village, which is in the borough of Havering, and put it in the top five new housing developments in the UK, praising it as “uplifting, fine, bold and human”.

Related: ‘Substandard’ housing association scheme facing hundreds of complaints

Related: Once the biggest housing associations own 90% of social homes, tenants will lose out

Residents’ lives have been blighted by the sub-standard building work that has taken place

Related: The response to dire housing should not be studied callousness | Dawn Foster

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