As the election bandwagon accelerates towards 7th May, so the manifestos are being aired. Although we know they are written evidence of future political lies, like most weather forecasts, there is never and acknowledgement, or apology, for the unmitigated deliberation with which they are served up to us and there equally unmitigated failure to fully materialise in the cold light of day.
The opinion polls still tell us we are watching a neck and neck race, with hints and rumour that Ed Miliband will come through because Cameron’s replacement is already being sought. His earlier disclosure that he would not be heading a third term has him again suitably covering his political arse for the inevitable.
It was a surprise to see him sealing his fate with an odious political tactic that he has purloined from the Tory ‘Goddess’ Maggie Thatcher, by placing ‘The Right to Buy’ at the centre of his party’s manifesto. Whilst it is an emotive ploy that will secure some votes, I fear for the hopes being built by this sleazy offer and the inevitable repercussions.
Let me declare my hand now by stating I was around and very much involved in the original council house sale bonanza and they were heady days. I was marketing director of a large insurance company that worked closely with local authorities across the country. When the scheme was announced we came up with suitable financing schemes to meet the varying needs and financial status of the lucky house buyers.
‘Low start’ mortgages and insurance policies helped many get their foot on the home ownership rung and we were overwhelmed by the demand. Indeed it was a very gratifying period in my working life, as home purchase is one of the biggest business deals most people undertake and which, unlike all other business dealings, has emotion involved and can therefore be tricky.
It was a satisfying time for me but the aftermath was not so pleasant. Thatcher had created a synthetic marketplace, by offering property at well below its market price, which all sounded very laudable. However she had lulled people into a false sense of security with such a concocted business environment.
No sooner had the country’s housing stock been sold off than the financial markets turned nasty, as they do with monotonous regularity, and interest rates went through the ceiling. It was then that the synthetic environment Thatcher had created suddenly evaporated, with no offer of similar subsidies for mortgage repayments from the millions that had been taken in housing sale receipts. New homeowners found themselves at the mercy of a ruthless financial market that saw many having to sell their newly acquired and shortly cherished possessions.
To me it demonstrated a ruthless and cold blooded act that I never forgave her for. The end result, as time has shown, has seen little attempt to restore public housing stock to previous levels to try and accommodate our vastly expanding population. What we are left with now is a market place where private landlords rule with the same cold blood demonstrated by Thatcher 40 years ago.
We are now in an unprecedented financial climate where debt, both public and private, is rife and interest rates are at the lowest they have ever been, with ‘negative’ interest as a new phenomenon and only one direction they can go . . . UP!
We then have the insult of what is called a ‘jobs’ market, with the abomination of zero hours contracts, a plethora of part time work and technology reducing available jobs at a frightening rate. Employers are now rushing to ‘robotise’ every aspect of their companies with machines that work 24/7 and require no wages, holidays, pensions or sick pay!
Not only that but those employees fortunate enough to have a job are expected to perform like the machines, producing levels of depression and stress that have become inhuman, for obvious reasons.
Even if our young have overcome the obstacles of student debt, they are now being encouraged to take on the largest financial obligation of their lives without the assurance that there will be sufficient employment, (their expensive education supposedly guaranteed), for them to continue those mortgage repayments with increasing interest rates into the future.
I become ever nauseous of modern politics that shy away from the horrendous problems it is now creating for Society and the abusive manner in which career politicians ‘smile’ these problems away, with suicidal short term thinking that only seeks to get them back into the luxuries of office they so greedily seek and are simply not fit for.
Until the next time
Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes