In the 1990s the homes for votes scandal, masterminded by Westminster Council's Dame Shirley Porter, "the high priestess of Tory sleaze", helped undermine the reputation of the Conservative Party and pave they way for the arrival of Tony Blair.
Homes for votes involved a plot by the the Tory leadership of Wesminster Council, the jewel in the crown of Conservative local government, to gerrymander the electoral roll by forcing poor (Labour voting) people out of council houses in marginal wards and replace them with more prosperous residents who would be more likely to vote Conservative and guarantee Tory hegemony over an area that included the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace within its boundary.
The secret blueprint of the consipracy was given the Orwellian title "Building Stable Communities".
Another vital part of Building Stable Communities was the removal of homeless voters and others who lived in hostels and were perceived less likely to vote Conservative, such as students and nurses, from the City of Westminster.
As the City Council found it more and more difficult to move homeless people outside Westminster, increasingly the logic of the "Building Stable Communities" programme required the concentration of homeless people within safe wards in the City. In 1989 over 100 families were removed from hostels in marginal wards and dumped in tower blocks in the a safe Labour ward. These blocks contain a dangerous form of asbestos, and should have either been cleaned up or demolished a decade before. One former homeless refuge was sold off at a discounted price to private developers and converted into private flats for young professional people at a cost to the ratepayer of £2.6m.
In 1990, the the Conservatives were re-elected in Westminster in a landslide election victory in which they won all but one of the wards targeted by Building Stable Communities.
But the game was up. The policy was judged illegal by the district auditor, and a surcharge of £27m levied on Lady Porter, the daughter and heir of Sir Jack Cohen, the founder of Tesco supermarkets. She became the poster girl of what became known as the 'Nasty Party' (copyright: D Cameron) and helped condemn the party to 11 years of opposition.
Policy Exchange and a Political Séance
Fast forward two decades and the spirit of Lady Porter has been summoned from its political graveyard to serve the cause of another Tory administration with a slender a majority and facing the real prospect of electoral defeat.
A sanitised version of Building Stable Communities has been brushed off and revised by the influential Policy Exchange thinktank.
It has just published a report, titled Ending Expensive Social Tenancies, claiming the the sale of the most prestigious council homes would raise up to £4.5bn per year, which would allow as many as 170,000 more affordable homes to be built around the country.
Policy Exchange, set up by Conservative MP Nick Boles, a key ally of David Cameron, claims the move could reduce the housing waiting list by up to 600,000 in five years. Housing minister Grant Shapps acclaimed the proposal as "blindingly obvious".
Immediately, opponents savaged the idea claiming it aimed to drive working-class people and the poor into social ghettos - indeed into areas where the Conservative Party are electorally weak.
Surprisingly, Ed Miliband and the Labour Party remained silent. Are they all in Tuscany?
The explosive political by-product of such a policy could help re-elect a Conservative government. It would deliver a slew of marginal Labour-held seats to Cameron, such as Hampstead and Kilburn, Solihull, and Wirral South, by exporting voters most likely not to vote Tory out of these consitiuencies and import those who are. This much is "blindingly obvious": It would be legalised gerrymandering on an epic scale.
Julian Kossoff is managing editor of IBTimes UK