Much of the room in question is being rapidly created between Tessa Jowell and the Intergenerational Foundation, who must surely hold some sort of record in the cats and pigeons department.
In a matter of hours, the Foundation's report suggesting that the over-60's should vacate their 'under-occupied' homes for the public good has caused a furore of national proportions, not to mention a certain amount of debate in the blogosphere - see the Moose, Longrider, Angry Exile amd the Cynical Tendency (links in sidebar), to name but a few.
has got something straight from the horse's mouth - or possibly another equine orifice altogether; reading in the Mail
that Tessa Jowell had sponsored the launch of the report in a House of Commons hospitality room, Joseph Kelly tweeted on the subject and was answered by Jowell in person.
"The Intergenerational Foundation is a new charity dedicated to promoting fairness between generations which is located in my constituency of Dulwich and West Norwood. I supported the launch of their first major report in the House of Commons yesterday as their local MP."
Nothing to do with New Labour then - at least not now it's turned out to be a total can of worms and potentially politically damaging. Drawing, perhaps, on the fuss over grammar schools, they must have thought that the huddled masses would rise as one to evict the complacent bourgeoisie, completely overlooking the fact that the elderly dogs in mangers include a fair proportion of the nation's much-loved grandparents.
They also failed to grasp that a substantial proportion of us have an inexplicable aversion to being told what to do - inexplicable, at least, to the Guardian's Comment is Free
, where terms like 'hoarding', 'squatting' and 'rattling around' are bandied about with predicatable venom.
Meanwhile, over at the Telegraph
, Esther Rantzen has shoved her oar in with a piece describing how she downsized from her family home - nauseatingly described as a 'museum of love'
- because she felt she no longer had 'a god-given right to the place'
. (I have to admit to being baffled by that one - I don't recall the Almighty being involved in any property transactions I've made.)
If she's trying to ingratiate herself with the IF, she might have done better to leave out the bit about the house being empty now that, her three children having left home, the au pair
has moved out too. After all, what is this whole business but thinly disguised class war, as the Guardian comment amply demonstrates?
The Foundation, apparently, will generously allow you to have a spare bedroom. This surely means that a couple ought to be permitted to occupy a three-bedroom house - assuming, of course, that the IF would not go so far as to insist on dictating sleeping arrangements - and pressure to move on would apply only to couples with four bedrooms or more, or, in other words, the better-off.
Meanwhile, the Foundation soundly castigates those who have merely endured the passage of time but says nothing of the increase in the number of divorced parents. I know several children who have two bedrooms each - one with each parent; the arrangement is actually recommended where possible to help children cope with the divorce and avoid friction with step-siblings.
Then there's the matter of second and third homes - some villages round here are virtual ghost towns during the working week; half or more of the local cottages are owned by Londoners, many of whom can be heard in the village pub on Sundays braying about their jobs in the broadcast media. Funnily enough, the news reports haven't mentioned that one.
And Labour's policy of getting 50% of the population into university has meant that vast swathes of family homes have been transformed into student lodgings, sometimes whole streets at a time - no mention of that either, oddly enough. In fact, the whole thing is so biased and highly selective that I initially suspected it might be a practical joke.
Sadly it appears not to be, and I find the implications intensely worrying. The title of this post is from a Harry Harrison novel, in which over-population has led to repeated sub-division of living space as people are forced to move into anywhere they can find.
Hoarding space becomes a crime against the state, and the elderly are put under increasing pressure to downsize, eventually taking it to its logical conclusion. In 1973, they made a film based on the story.
It's called 'Soylent Green'