Remarkable watching the rerun of the speech of our glorious PM, Theresa May, yesterday, but instead of focusing on her coughing fit, that P45, Amber Rudd telling Boris Johnson to stand up or the falling letters, I’d like to steer clear of those four icebergs and touch upon what Mrs May said about housing.
Or rather didn’t say.
You see, I’m old enough to remember Margaret Thatcher, her wholesale selling off of national assets, including council estates or social housing – however you want to term it.
I saw it back then as having two political purposes – destroy local autonomy (councils) and make the working classes vote Tory.
I grew up on a 50s council estate in Thorne, near Doncaster and the glee that met this policy was astounding. UPVC windows and doors were bought by the truckload by tenants who suddenly were gifted a house for very little money.
It should have been exposed as a scandal – a 3 bedroomed mid terraced home with a purchase price of £1500, I seem to recall.
But instead, in a dizzy atmosphere of post Silver Jubilee 1977 street parties, we were all (me included) too busy watching everyone go all home improvement mad (to mark their council house as now owned) to raise a political objection.
Happened on mining estates too – solid 1940s colliers’ homes in Moorends virtually given away and making the miners, who would suffer in strikes in 1986, pseudo-capitalists.
Of course, I’m simplifying matters.
Doncaster remains fiercely socialist but that epoch did bring out closet Tories – anathema to me growing up in 1979 when I remembered those small bottles of milk being snatched by Thatcher at primary school as a cost saving.
Yet seven years later, council stock was given away.
This model of taking away local control, where there’s some accountability, continues today – but with less stealth.
Multi Academy Trusts with Executive Principals on eye-watering salaries have replaced benevolent Local Authority Directors of Education, local governors have been replaced by MAT CEOs and that good school down the road is subsuming the crap one close by under its Poundland Trust umbrella.
To me, it all stinks.
Back to the May bot though.
What she wants to resurrect out of the car crash of the recent election is an extension of Help to Buy, the scheme where a new home is reduced by a set amount, with the equity covered by the government.
It’s hardly 3 bedroomed council house for £1500 when homes on the new Persimmon estate I live on in Norfolk start from around £130,000 with Help to Buy.
That means a single person still needs a salary of around £30,000 to get that mortgage which I’m certain in this area will be a challenge for anyone.
I don’t think the idea will work – do you?
Perhaps a real P45 will land soon?