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A Broadside: *plot spoiler* for Tory sympathisers

Today some alarming social equality data was released. It said what we all know: if you are poor, you have less opportunities in life. For every £100 a month less income than the median you start school one month behind developmentally. Your vocabulary aged 5 is half what it is for a rich kid if you are in the bottom ten percent of income.

Housing tenure stats are even worse.

"Only 4 per cent of those of working age living in social housing have degrees, and nearly half have no or only low qualifications. Only half of men and 42 per cent of women of working age living in social housing are in paid work, compared with 89 per cent of men and 81 per cent of women in households with a mortgage."

Social housing: by its nature, is grouped (london people ignore this, you are the freaks not the norm). That means that we have allowed ghettoes of poverty and low attainment (not just in a SATS way either).

Now it would be easy, and some daft Tory has already done it, to pin this on Labour. BUT. The seeds of this are in two places: first the mid 1960s decision by Harold MacMillian, that said that council housing was not a suitable means of permanent generational living. We should all aspire to home ownership. At that point build quality declined and a two tier living scenario was created.

Now add Thatcher's pseudo aristocratic idea that we should allow people to buy their own home from the council: and you get a clear hierarchy. Top of pile= people who never lived in council housing, bottom of pile= people who have to live in council housing. Result= ghetto.

What we are living in now is the generational consequence. Working aspirational people have been removed from these communities, leaving them labelled as places to get out of.

There are some exceptions to this I accept, but thats the pattern.

More equal societies place less value on home ownership. Fact.

If people vote Tory this year, its a vote for consigning another generation to this miserable system. Reduction in inheritance tax (a Biblically condoned tax, ney a way of life), will reinforce the divide. The rich will get richer: The promise to deal with 'causes' will I suspect gut all child poverty programmes. I suspect milk will even go again.

Please don't do it.


Anonymous said…
ok, can you sum up the other guys so I might have a clue who to vote for? (cause otherwise I just won't vote...and I'll be another government statistic- in my defence, the government didn't educate me about this...)
Vicar said…
OK: Labour, committed to some degree of social equality but did buy into the home ownership stuff, have worked hard on child poverty.

LibDems: actually not sure yet, Nick Clegg drfits left and right like a drunk driver.

Greens: unsure that they can see this beyond their headline issues.

UKIP/ BNP etc: a vote for race hatred as far as I can tell! They see everything as race/ Europe rather than class and economics..

To be honest I don't mind if you spoil your vote- but voting is good!
andymoore said…
Jude, no offence, but I think you are oversimplifying a very complicated problem.

This isn't simply a question of home ownership - yes, the right to buy for one generation has taken the possibility away from subsequent generations. A bad, short-termist decision by a now-hated populist prime minister, but there are plenty of better-quality social housing ghettos harking back to the 20s, 30s and 40s. Plus the problems of localised poverty extend equally to countries like France that have much less of a history of home ownership.
The statistic about working and mortgages is essentially meaningless. Of course you can't get a mortgage if you're not in work.
The bigger issues are not simply income related, but ones of hope, aspiration, appreciation of the value of work, appreciation of the value of education and the joy of learning, expectation of betterment etc.
These are historic issues going back much further than a single generation - there are marked differences in vocabulary between the (to use a dirty word) classes going back hundreds of years...

This isn't a pro-Tory rant. I was born in 79, and I think I'm genetically predicated away from blue. I'm not sure I could vote that way if I wanted to. It's just suggesting that this is a bigger problem and maybe even suggesting that things have got better, much better, for everyone over the last 100 years (say). Yes, we have ghettos. But we don't have slums. All children are educated, even if they are not all educated equally...

On another note, could you give a reference for the inheritance tax thing? I don't remember reading anything like that. I thought the bible (the OT at least) was quite hot on being able to pass stuff on to your children. It had some sort of system to make sure you could, didn't it? The problem with inheritance tax is that, apart from the very rich, it prevents that. Neither myself, nor my siblings will inherit my parents v modest terrace house, because the tax bill will be such that we will have to sell it. So we will be unable to benefit from the security that my parents have worked their entire lives to achieve.
I would have thought that, for that very reason, inheritance tax is pretty un-progressive...
Vicar said…
I did say it was a broadside..

The inheritance tax thing for me is about Jubilee... an understanding that the earth is the Lords and everyone is returned to their equal share of LAND at the end of a generation. It ensured that each generation had a level playing field start. Historians suggest that Israel never did it.

We don't have slums? Not in the South, no.. too much pressure on housing to allow dereliction, rats, rubbish everywhere..

True its not a developing country, but its bad!

On mortgages: its not meaningless if you look back to the fifties to seventies.. then having a job and a council house was a good way to live..

I'm not pretending that I have conveyed all the complexities of the issue.. Ive only read the summary of the report.. but I stand by housing as a big deal..
Vicar said…
Andy: you are right about aspiration- but what are you to aspire to when 86% of the adults in your community are on benefits? Thats my situation here.. in a community with jobs around that local people can't access..

Again you are right.. its complex..
andymoore said…
Yes, housing is a big issue. We all need a safe environment in which to grow. I grew up in Birmingham, my brother lives in Sheffield, I have family in Liverpool - I know there are shitty estates in this country. Ones that need a great deal of improvement...

But I don't think housing is the main issue when it comes to levels of education and employment and health. Housing is a symptom. As you yourself said, the people that can get out, do.

On the Jubilee thing, I thought the point of jubilee was that it meant that people did inherit. It prevented a select few from gobbling up all the resources, enabling security for everyone that their children will inherit the land, even if they fall on hard times in the interim. My problem with inheritance tax in its current guise is that it prevents this - its no longer about stopping the very rich passing on their large estates to their children along with their titles. It is now stopping almost anyone inheriting land...

Which feeds in to the housing issue. My grandmother bought her 50s council house when Maggie let her. When she dies, it will probably be worth more than the inheritance tax threshold. So my uncle, who still lives there, will lose his home. He has no hope of buying one for himself.

If you have no hope for a better future, you don't work towards it. And that is the trap.
Vicar said…
I do accept that: But housing estates are my life. Its not the individual housing that is a problem but when you have high concentrations of bad housing it has psychological effects.. a fair chunk of research says that..

I'm not saying I have the right answer on inheritance tax.. but Jubilee is about people enjoying an equal start- it was tough then and it is tough now.. it might be why no-one in power will ever do it.. but an equal start is my hope for a better future and its what I work for..

The ranting about it is just an aside..
Alana said…
I still haven't figured out all the nuances of the past political decisions in this country (though I do live on a housing estate, so I can see some of the consequences). However, what horrified me is this:

"For every £100 a month less income than the median you start school one month behind developmentally. Your vocabulary aged 5 is half what it is for a rich kid if you are in the bottom ten percent of income."

How can any kid that far behind at the starting line hope to catch up?
Vicar said…
the scary thing is that for some kids- mainly white british and black caribbean boys (I think) on free school meals.. it gets worse! Heartbreaking..

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