Something strange is happening in our ongoing national discussion. Housebuilding, a subject which until recently has often been met by collective shrugging in Westminster, has suddenly become the latest battle line not just between the Conservative and Labour parities, but also within the government.

Throughout the local election campaign, housing (and the Tories’ decision to make housing targets voluntary) was the major discussion and was at the time, and since, blamed (not least by many Conservative MPs) for the Party’s terrible showing at the local elections. The newspapers were alive with stories of Cabinet backlashes and backbench rebellions by Conservative MPs concerned that the Government’s submission to the Villiers-Seely amendment would lead to heavy Conservative losses in the local election and maybe even the forthcoming General Election.

And, after losing over 1,000 councillors and 48 councils, the Government’s political opponents (including members of their own party) have been quick to jump on the issue of housebuilding.

Last week, Keir Starmer announced that he would allow more building on the Green Belt to solve the housing crisis. Quick as a flash, Rishi Sunak retorted that he would fight to protect the Green Belt. In the days since we have seen this national discussion playing out in the national and local media. In my view, this policy is by far Keir Starmer’s most stand-out campaign promise – even above any new Labour-like reforms of the NHS.

The issue is quickly becoming toxic in Conservative circles too. At the recent National Conservatism conference, when Michael Gove announced that the country was not building enough homes, former cabinet minister Jake Berry was quick to point the blame back at the Housing Secretary: “If only you knew someone with the power to do something about it”, he exclaimed in the conference hall.

A (green) line has been drawn in the sand.  

Just as NIMBYism has stopped being a dirty word, the Green Belt seems – in some quarters at least – to be losing its hold on the imagination of the county.

This could very well be the policy which takes Labour to power if they can only avoid shooting themselves in the foot (as the Labour Party so often does).

To win trust, Labour MPs and councillors may now come under pressure from the leadership to be pro-development and support schemes in the face of local opposition. There have already been murmurs from the Labour Left such as John McDonnell against Keir Starmer’s pro-development talk, and Labour’s General Election campaigners may have to work hard to keep local councillors in line.

Making political predictions is always risky business and should only be left to those with clairvoyant skills. But, with an entire generation seemingly consigned to renting, Labour’s clear policy on housing could help to unite an electoral base bringing together different northern social conservatives and socially liberal urban young and middle-aged families in the south and propel the Party to power at Westminster.

What does this mean for our clients? Well, we could see Labour councillors coming under pressure from the central Party and local leaders to be supportive of developments in their area. However, when push comes to shove, many Labour councillors may feel that their political future is too shaky to go against the wishes of their constituents. A Labour victory will not negate the need to galvanise the ‘silent majority’ who are supportive of Labour’s position on housebuilding against the loud voices of a NIMBY minority.