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RAILWAYS Even Tory backers are losing faith in nasty party policy

TORY business backers made a surprise swipe against rail privatisation and the housing crisis at the Conservative conference.

Virgin Trains managing director David Horne told delegates at a fringe on Monday afternoon that rail privatisation was too unpopular.

One delegate asked if there should be even more privatisation on rail, like the reprivatisation of Network Rail, which maintains our rail infrastructure and took over from failed private firm Railtrack after the latter went bust in 2002.

However Mr Horne told delegates: "I don't think the time for that is now. We need to be making the case for the privatised railway that we have, because we don't have universal public support for that."

Earlier in conference week, Chris Tinker, a director of housebuilding firm Crest Nicholson, angered delegates by telling them how “energised” the Labour conference was.

Mr Tinker, addressing a fringe meeting on housing sponsored by his firm, was emphasising how deep the housing crisis is.

He told the delegates he had also addressed a fringe meeting at the Labour conference and it was “packed with a young generation of people, and quite energised.

"There was a debate about whether housing is just run by the middle class for the middle class.”

This led to shouts of “no” from the Tory audience, apparently shocked both by the mention of packed Labour meetings and of how fundamental the debate on housing has become.  

Ironically, it fell to the company executive to tell Conservative delegates to take social need seriously.

Mr Tinker went on to say his children, 27 and 31 told him: “Dad, have you got any idea what is going on out there” in terms of housing?

He replied there was “a whole discourse going on about affordable housing and the quality of the rented sector” that the government needed to understand.

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