Friday, 2 September 2011

The foundations of ‘Broken Britain’



The last few days I have been thinking about the condition of the housing market; and just what a horrible thought that just is, a market for providing the most basic of requirements - shelter.

The defining policy of ‘Tatcherism’ has got to be what they did with housing. They raped ‘intentionally’ a stock of housing that had helped to glue together stability and cohesion in the greater community, and  today I will argue that we have seen the weakening of social cohesion, the breakdown of trust and community along with increases in crime and violence because of this. The Housing Act 1980 was indeed an act of piracy; buccaneering that was cleverly contrived; such planning and manipulation that helped fool thousands into thinking that they were a part or could be a part of the home-owning democracy. The results were immediate and prompt, an explosion in homelessness all over the country. 

We would also do well to remember that the Labour Party was vehemently opposed to the 1980 Act but by 1987 had dropped its opposition to the Right-to-Buy.

When Thatcher said: “Popular capitalism is nothing less than a crusade to enfranchise the many in the economic life of the nation.” Then Labour has been seen to in-braced every word with such enthusiasm.

But never mind them, let us review a little history here, which I think is important in nailing the crutch of my argument to the door post. During the last 30 years 2.5 million council houses have been sold off since the Right-to-Buy scheme was introduced. The scheme, enabled council house tenants to buy their homes at massive discounts which in turn led to the biggest increase in home-ownership during the last 50 years.      
Back then the proportion of people who were homeowners increased from 59% to 70% with around 10% of that increase was attributed directly to council house sales. And council houses collectively worth £85 billion have been sold off, however now the number of people buying their council home has been steadily in decline for some years. 

It was indeed a nice try on the part of the Tories, who did two things, they handed over to their friends the means to make more money from housing finance, and at the same time tie a working class down to the pull of a system that would help to keep them in their place whist at the same time giving the illusion of a stake in property ownership, even though it took a lifetime before that actuality would be reached. I always look at it as whatever happens, the banks always know that in the end analysis, they will always end-up with the bricks and mortar making them a profit time after time after time.

And so the near collapse of the banking system ended the hopes and dreams curly of thousands, the stargazes of ever owning their own homes. 

There is nought wrong with owning your own home, but it has to be said; what a tangled spiders web of real deceit, a very misleading falsehood that has comeback to bite the working classes on the backside in this relatively short span of time of just a few decades. The children of the many who swallowed that hook line and sinking weight of home-ownership are now unable to place a foot on the housing ladder. It’s a real shame that Margaret Thatcher is not a full shilling these days, because I would love her to understand that her ‘property owning democracy’ has failed the test of time, and whereas she may not have been for turning back, her housing bobble has burst big-time. Far from seeing council estates transformed by home-owning former tenants, the Right-to-Buy has led to fractured communities, exploitative landlordism and now a severe lack of housing, this is Thatcher’s true legacy, and I suppose you could say the foundations of ‘Broken Britain’. Much of what remains of the Right-to-Buy evangelism has done more harm than good - the idea that ownership breeds responsibility in a way that council tenancies never could is a complete buncombe - go on show me an owner of the 'means of production' that has ever been responsible. The collectivist delusions of the past are being swept away with the realty of truth.   

The housing market is said to play a key role in shaping macroeconomic performance, with millions of jobs that have been linked directly or indirectly to property and the construction sectors, and as we have seen during the last few years the potentially strong household wealth effects of changes in property prices on consumer confidence, as borrowing demand and incentives to save along with the fall in value or wages, the cost of living has taken a nose dive for the most negative of experiences.    

And with all the indicators now pointing in one awful direction, I think that I can now say and unfortunately with a degree of confidence, that nothing is set to get any better as we stand upon the hourglass of a renewed and renegaded economic meltdown of world capitalism. 

Falling house prices, low interest rates, and no one buying as the phantom of mass unemployment is about to haunt and be an unwelcome visitor in many a home in the months to come, as this government allows the visible disembodied soul of the unemployed to pay the price for the crisis of capitalism, and if need be with their homes. So don’t be surprised to see the springing up of tent cities.               
      

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1 comment:

Chris H said...

Excellent post comrade!

Anyone thinking that 'the market' can provide affordable homes is living in cloud cuckoo land. The fact remains that as long as there's a profit to be made in housing then we'll always have housing issues.

Landlords make inflated rents guaranteed by local council subsidies, fat cat mortgage outfits make money through the realisation of capital from houses, and the politicians make their own capital from the nightmare that is a 'home owner's paradise'.

Housing has to be removed from the intrusion of market forces. Until that time comes we will never deal with homelessness and deprivation.

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