Time's up for Tories?
17 February 2018, 20:49
It used to be that you could buy your own home if you had a normal job. People that worked as teachers and office managers, plumbers or drivers could afford to buy a place to call their own.
Even nurses used to be able to afford one and doctors could have one with its own front door on a street in Chelsea.
These days, you would need to be a doctor of mathematics and have sold your soul to work in a hedge fund to get a house in SW3.
Twenty years ago, when young middle-class professionals were raving to house music at the weekend, they were twice as likely to get their own place as their modern equivalents who work all weekend to buy a house.
A report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies said that just one in four young middle-income families now owns their own home.
It was two in three in the 1990s.
It means people with ordinary jobs are now stuck renting into their thirties or forties or forever.
This is very bad news for the Conservative Party.
The Tories are not building enough homes, just like the government before them and the one before that.
In fact, Britain has not built enough homes in pretty much any year since the Second World War.
As usual, short termism is the cause. Successive governments have reneged on their duty to provide shelter for all and simply aimed their policies at those who already had one: older people.
Unfortunately for the Tories, time does not stand still and those older people are falling off life's conveyor belt and are not being replaced with new home owners.
Young people are now as likely to own their own home as they are to vote Tory, and that's the problem for the party in blue.
The young used to vote for left wing parties and gradually shifted to the right over time.
You care about people more when you are young and you haven't had the joy of life beaten out of you.
When you're young you are starry-eyed about the possibilities available to you and not yet miserable that life has not come up to your expectations; you have hopes and dreams and you haven't yet given up hopes of fulfilling them.
So the young vote left - the caring wing of the political spectrum.
When they got old though, they'd acquired things that they wanted to protect, and that's when they used to start to vote for right-wing parties.
When they have a house and a pension and assets, people tend to vote Tory because that's the kind of party that will be more likely to let them hang on to their wealth and not distribute it for the benefit of others less fortunate.
That equation is now broken.
Young people aren't buying houses and they don't have pensions and they haven't gathered any wealth.
Why would they start voting for a right-wing party, if they don't have anything to protect?
It is likely that they will continue to vote for left wing parties, unless someone comes along and persuades them that the reason they haven't done well is not the stupid government or the evil multinationals, or the way the tax laws are written by and for the rich, it is the fault of someone below them on the ladder of life, and that's where so-called populism comes in.
The Tories need to give people easily identified minorities to hang the blame on – if only there weren't so many foreigners vying for houses and cheap foreign labour, who are more eager and work harder, or just generally people “comin over 'ere”, then they would be able to have their own home.
That is the message they need to promote to keep the young on-side.
In short, they need to do a Donald Trump.
He blamed the Mexicans but we have the EU and as long as Theresa May doesn't do anything to stem the flow of immigrants, it just might work.
But she is currently engaged in doing just that.
And when the immigrants stop coming, who will the young be persuaded to blame then?
Anyone want to bet against Jeremy Corbyn for our next PM?