In 2001, Labour's John Prescott decided to fleece thousands of people in Islington, and hundreds of thousands more up and down the country. It was one of the most illiberal and anti-democratic acts of this most anti-democratic and illiberal government.
The context was the failure of over fourty years of socialist housing policies. The dead hand of the state weighed heavily in Islington. It had created a nightmare situation where state-built or state-owned properties had fallen into disrepair. The virtues of private ownership had been ignored - principally to the cost of the people living in these properties.
Decoration had all but ceased. Decent care and maintenance were patchy at best. Non-existent at worst. "Public ownership" meant being owned by no-one. They had been largely disowned.
So Prescott decreed that all these properties must be renovated. Under the direction of the state. By 2010.
But the residents got no say in it. No option to organise decoration themselves. No chance to spread it over over an affordable period of time.
The result: 56% 'management' fees for all. Bills for the lucky of £5,000. Bills for the unlucky of £40,000. Payable in two years. Even for pensioners. Even for those who did not directly benefit from Mrs. Thatcher's original "Right to Buy" discounts.
Another fine mess that 'new' Labour has got Islington and the rest of the country into.
"Once back here I got to thinking - 'how do I get out of this?' Perhaps the really haunting spectre is that I would have to turn my back on the lake, and the prospect of the sword." Alan Clark, Diaries - 19th May 1999