Wednesday, April 09, 2014

My hardworking flat

When I was young, I wanted a time machine so I could save the universe. Now I want a time machine so I can nip back and buy property.

I went to school with Rich People and a few of them are Facebook friends. One of them is a banker. It was fairly inevitable, given the laws of probability. He's also a Tory. Also inevitable. He's also, if you ever meet him, lovely and rather sweet.  And yet... and yet... he's just talked about "hardworking homeowners" on Facebook. As in "Great to see the economic growth we should be proud of in this country delivering profits to hard working homeowners".

He's talking about London's current property boom. Otherwise known as "you think this flat is worth HOW MUCH???". I find the whole thing nuts.

Obviously, Banker is going to have an opposite viewpoint to me. He's. A. Banker. But it's that he used the "hard working" thing. That laughable mantra that David Cameron uses as an excuse-all. I thought we all knew that was silly. I genuinely thought not even Tory voters were fooled by that. The whole idea that the insanity of London's latest property bang is due to "hardworking homeowners" is horrid. Horrid. Horrid.

I live on a housing estate in Camden. My flat is nearly worth half-a-million (don't burgle it, it's mostly cat hair and lego). The point is, I'm delighted that that's the value, but it's not worth half a million. It's a flat on a social housing estate in Camden. When I had a proper career with a rather nice salary, it was worth a fraction of that, and still all that I could afford.

If you want to buy my flat, you're now going to need to be earning over a 100 grand a year. I try and imagine the kind of person who earns a 100 grand. Then I try and imagine them living in my slightly shabby shoebox full of cat hair. And I laugh.

I think we can roughly agree that someone who earns 100 grand thinks they're pretty hardworking. I think, at the end of a hardworking day, they want to come back to something nicer than my flat. I think there's a difference between the Tory idea of hardworking (Daddy gives you a hand up to get you started to your first mill) and the social housing tenants on this estate. The ones with jobs are hardworking. So hardworking they have at least one job. I see them leaving for it at about 5am when I'm walking the cat.

Those who aren't holding down three jobs to pay their rent, have, in the government's eyes, won the poverty lottery and been given a free flat on housing benefit. Well done them, I say. They get to share their postcode with all us fake demi-millionaires in our plush mansions.

The idea that this property boom is somehow all because the Tories have decided to reward people who work hard is silly. A lot of the people who work do so for the minimum wage. They don't get rewarded. They get ground into the dirt. That's the Tory motto and I refuse to believe they've changed it.

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