Probably one of the most shocking things I read over the weekend was in this article in the Guardian (about 17 paragraphs down).
It is Nick Clegg talking about his time in the coalition where he describes a ‘quad meeting’ he had with himself, David Cameron, George Osborne, and Danny Alexander. where
One of them – I honestly can’t remember whom – looked genuinely nonplussed and said, ‘I don’t understand why you keep going on about the need for more social housing – it just creates Labour voters.’ They genuinely saw housing as a Petri dish for voters. It was unbelievable.
Maybe I am looking at this with the benefit of hindsight and the recent government reports on building homes and homelessness, which make it clear that we are not going to get enough housing by relying on the private sector to build it.
Maybe also at that time the housing crisis was not so bad.
But it’s the attitude really. Maybe I am naive, vaguely bumbling along thinking that politics is about doing a bit of good for the country where here we see someone whose thinking appears to be TOTALLY skewed towards remaining in power and nothing else.
Still, it’s not a new phenomenon – here is Plato writing in about 380BC:
“. they are generally more set on acquiring new kingdoms, right or wrong, than on governing well those they possess.”
I also seem to remember (but can’t find the quote) that he said that the best rulers were going those who did not seek to rule rather than those who really wanted to (Jeremy Corbyn initially reminded me of this, although now I’m not so sure).
Creating a country in your image
It’s a fact, apparently, that people who own their own homes tend to vote Tory. So to the ‘focus on staying in power at all costs’ Tory mentality – that means encouraging home ownership to the exclusion of all else.
Which is what we have seen.
But which is also impossible. Not everyone can afford to own their own home and indeed not everyone wants to.
However, those people who don’t get to own their home didn’t really bother the Tories any. Either they stopped voting at all out of a sense of hopelessness, or they are homeless and unable to vote anyway as they can’t get on the electoral roll.
Reaping the rewards of success
Still, Cameron and Osborne didn’t last very long on their own, did they?
After blithely taking us into the referendum, without a plan for a ‘leave’ vote, solely (apparently) in order to ‘shut up’ the Eurosceptics once and for all – they found that all those people they hadn’t bothered about, mattered after all.
I just wonder – if they had shown a bit more compassion and provided more funding for social housing, enough to ease the crisis – would the referendum vote have gone the way it did?
Housing is fundamental to people’s lives. People like Cameron and Osborne, comfortably rich, probably find it hard to imagine the fear and insecurity of someone living on minimum wage at constant risk of being evicted and unable to find anywhere else to live.
They are unlikely to see their children forced to hand over 50% of their wages (if they are lucky enough to have a job) to live in a dilapidated and dangerous bedsit which ought to be condemned. But which they can’t condemn otherwise they will have nowhere to live.
Would people have been so worried about immigration if they hadn’t thought that immigrants were taking up housing that otherwise would have been used for local people.
Maybe if the Cameron government had done more to provide more genuine social housing (as opposed to ‘affordable’ housing – although even that is not being built), the great unwashed might have felt differently about things.
What about Mrs May
The $59 million dollar question is – what attitude does Mrs May have?
At this moment in time, Mrs May is a bit of a mystery. Will she feel the same way? She was, after all part of the Cameron government. For example Nick Clegg accuses her (in the same article) of distorting figures to stoke up anti-immigrant feeling.
- Was she just keeping her head down in the Home Office, biding her time, waiting until she could do things differently?
- Or does she have the same ‘only if it keeps me in power’ mentality?
On the steps of number 10 Mrs May promised to help ordinary people, and in her recent Andrew Marr interview she refers to a social program. She is after all the daughter of a cleric and one hopes that she has a social conscience.
But we will have to see.