As long-time Kitchen readers will know, your humble Devil does not have the warmest regard for students, regarding them as being as politically astute as a lump of banana-bread.
However, when the silly sods are attacked by someone as repulsive as Communities Secretary John Denham, your humble Devil finds himself wanting to spring to their defence. This situation would, of course, be intolerable were it actually the students being attacked but, luckily, it isn't really.
Ministers are to act against student enclaves by pushing through new laws making it harder for neighbourhoods in university towns to be colonised by large student populations.
Such enclaves often lead to resentment between students and local people, with whole boroughs left underpopulated in the summer months while renting students go on holiday. Some residents also argue that students upset the character of an area by ignoring the community in which they live.
John Denham, communities secretary and MP in the university town of Southampton, is a long-term campaigner against the impact on towns of large student bodies living in HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation, or those containing more than one household).
Denham is planning to tackle the issue through a change in the so-called Use Classes Order 1987 – which allow councils to control undue concentrations in specific types of property – by allowing for HMOs to be brought under greater council control. He is also likely to cap and control the distribution and the dispersal of HMOs by using the local planning system to set up "areas of restraint".
You see, what this disgusting little man is trying to do is to restrict what private individuals are able to do with their own private property.
Not that this should be a surprise: as we know from instances such as the smoking ban, NuLabour are true to their Communist roots in not being overly keen on private property rights.
The National Union of Students (NUS) has campaigned to keep the planning laws unchanged, arguing that students should be free to live close to one another in communities.
"We would welcome these proposals if they were about improving standards of student accommodation, but we fear that they actually just amount to unconstructive headline-grabbing, said Wes Streeting, the NUS president.
Really? Who'da thunk it?
"If John Denham is in fact planning to clamp down on houses of multiple occupancy in this manner, he will be forcing students to pay private companies to live in ghettoes away from the rest of the community, or to find accommodation in the unregulated market. This will do nothing to improve community cohesion."
Indeed not. Much though it may amuse me to see students getting yet another shoeing from Labour—knowing the number of students who continue to vote for the socialist filth (despite the tuition fees, the abolition of grants, the measuring of student loan interest rates at RPI inflation rates, and the devaluation of degrees through low standards and flooding the market with graduates)—one also must have some sympathy with them.
Because, in many university towns, rental prices are pretty high. NuLabour have, of course, contributed hugely to this: not only through allowing (indeed, relying on) a massive housing bubble that has driven prices through the roof, but also through forcing universities to take more students. More students means more demand for housing: and with planning laws as they are, more demand for housing means higher prices.
The simple fact is that, for many students, having many people in the same flat is the only way to afford to rent that flat in the first place. In my second year at Edinburgh University, for instance, I lived in a flat with four other people—and we were still not very well off.
In one of the key changes, Denham is expected to tighten rules regarding the number of people not within the same family permitted to live in the same HMO, by lowering the threshold from six to three or four. Critics argue that a lower cap may drive out those dependent on current HMO law, such as a couple with a lodger who then decide to have a child.
A source stressed that Denham was not being anti-student, and that he recognised that only a minority of students are involved in the type of anti-social behaviour that can blight neighbourhoods.
OK, so Denham recognises that "only a minority of students are involved", but he is, even so, prepared to fuck over those students who are perfectly well-behaved and to ride roughshod over private property rights.
In other words, this disgusting little cunt's response is to punish the innocent majority for the sins of a guilty minority (assuming that you accept that they are guilty in the first place). Not only that, but he is perfectly prepared to destroy one of the absolute fundamentals of civilised society along with it.
How very spiteful. How very unwise. How very totalitarian.
How very NuLabour.