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Radical change or mud-slinging:what will No 10 give us now?

editorial

So then, it's come and gone in a blink of an eye. What's come and gone? The sad thing is that by the time most people read this, the vast majority of Britain's population will hardly remember the dramatic events of the election. This despite it being less than a week since 'our great leader' was handed the keys to No 10 Downing Street for a record third time.

But please do watch this space. Watch the way this historic third Labour government pans out; for it can seemingly go one of two ways when it comes to the issues that should matter most to those that hold the future of the UK's built environment dear.

Remember John Major. If you're scratching your head, he was the 'grey' Tory that filled the seven-year gap between the Iron Lady and Blair. After his 1992 election victory he was in a rut and the country stagnated. The reason? Because his majority, although considered workable, was tiny. Blair's post-5 May majority is nothing like as small, but he could find himself in a something of a predicament because his back-benchers are rebellious and their collective temper is worsening.

Why should this matter to architects and architecture?

The simple fact is that John Prescott's plans to solve the housing problem, in both the north and south of England, are among the government's most radical. Whether you're concerned about wholesale housing stock demolition (see page 5) or the massive housebuilding programme in London's hinterland (see page 12), these are serious issues for a serious government.

It's all well and good being radical, as long as the reforms are given the time, patience and commitment needed to push through thoughtful change. It's quite another thing to randomly throw mud at a wall until some of it sticks, in a desperate bid to get something - anything - done. What the country doesn't need is some half-way house, pushed through by an administration that is more interested in fighting off attacks from the sniping backbenchers and interest groups that are growing ever more powerful. What it really needs is a strong government making brave decisions over issues that have, until relatively recently, been ignored. Let's hope we get one.

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