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Is George Osborne’s ‘Help to Buy’ the equivalent of Bush’s sub-prime loans?

29 June 2013

11:18 AM

29 June 2013

11:18 AM

There is a strange disconnect between George Osborne’s enthusiasm that young people should buy homes, and the reluctance of young people to do so. The Telegraph has reported that fewer young people own homes than ever – and it fears, perhaps as the Chancellor does, that this has political implications because owners tend to vote Tory and renters Labour. The Chancellor stands in the tradition of a long line of conservatives being enthusiastic about promoting home-ownership in hope of turning people into right-wingers.  In her seminal book The Anatomy of Thatcherism, Shirley Letwin famously argued that home ownership released the ‘vigorous virtues’ and made someone more inclined to see the world from a Conservative point of view. The Thatcher right-to-buy scheme (opposed by Labour) was a huge success – emblematic of her bond with the working class voters. It was a success from which the Tories have never recovered.

Conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic have pursued home ownership ever since – with mixed results. The Bush government was much taken with this (I once saw Karl Rove quote aloud from Letwin’s book) and hawked underpriced debt. Mortgages were given to young couples who had not a cent of deposit and no means of paying the money back. The subprime crisis was born. We all know how that movie ended.

But we’re seeing a replay in Britain with George Osborne’s offering what are, in effect, sub-prime loans. Those considering buying a house have reason to be nervous. His ‘help to buy’ scheme (dubbed right-to-defualt) has been thusly described by Albert Edwards, who heads up SocGen’s global strategy team:

‘Why are houses too expensive in the UK? Too much debt. So what is George Osborne’s solution for first-time buyers unable to afford housing? Why, arrange for a government-guaranteed scheme to burden our young people with even more debt! Why don’t we call this policy by the name it really is, namely the indentured servitude of our young people I believe it truly is a moronic policy that stands head and shoulders above most of the stupid economic policies I have seen implemented during my 30 years in this business.’

And Andrew Bridgen from Fathom Consulting on Osborne’s help-to-buy:-

‘Had we been asked to design a policy that would guarantee maximum damage to the UK’s long-term growth prospects and its fragile credit rating, this would be it’

Osborne shrugs this off, and focuses on the wider advantages of home ownership. He boasted about low mortgage rates in his Spending Review speech. It reminded me of what Alan Greenspan wrote in his 2007 memoirs:

‘I was aware that the loosening of mortgage credit terms for subprime borrowers increased financial risk, and that subsidized homeownership initiatives distort market outcomes. But I believe then, as now, that the benefits of broadened ownership are worth the risk.’


But here’s the thing. A good many young people look at the housing market right now and see a trap. You don’t need to be a SocGen analyst to think there’s something wrong in a market where garages go for £500,000 and your average bank manager struggles to afford a decent family home. But this is a very London argument. Outside of the capital, houses are 20 per cent down from 2007 levels in real terms. By some measures, houses are more affordable than they have been for 15 years (although they are still expensive in historic terms, especially given tougher mortgage rules).

In London, where economic policies are decided and most political commentary written, people still speak of the property ladder as if it were Jacob’s Ladder, a magical stairway to financial heaven. Outside London, the picture is not quite so simple. In fact, most Brits who bought a home around 2007 will have lost rather a lot of money.

Screen Shot 2013-06-29 at 11.59.47As the Nationwide graph (right) shows, losses have been acute in Wales, Yorkshire and the North West. In Northern Ireland, prices have actually halved since the crash (pdf). This will have affected attitudes towards the very notion of homeownership: the young will have seen their friends and family badly burned by the idea of a property ladder. The losses suggested in the Nationwide graph are bad enough, but you can add another ten percentage points for the effect of inflation. It’s not hard to understand why teenagers growing up in houses that have lost a quarter of their value will be more suspicious of the idea of house ownership as a no-brainer financial investment.

It’s nice to own your own place. But how much borrowed money would you risk in pursuit of that goal? How sure can you be that another crash is not just around the corner? And what happens, even up north, when rates head back to the 5pc norm?

MORI has been publishing fascinating research into the attitudes of Generation Y, the under-31s. They are the least likely to recommend that a young couple buys a house. And why? This question does not involve affordability (homes are, anyway, as affordable as they were ten years ago outside London). They seem unconvinced that it represents a sound long-term investment. If prices collapse that the “indentured servitude” that SocGen talks about will become real: negative equity is a very hard master. Here’s the MORI research, showing the generational changes in attitude:

ipsos-mori-generations-immediately buy-couple

The Telegraph cover piece quotes the Joseph Rowntree Foundation talking glumly about ‘Generation Rent’ as if it were a basic human right to be able to tie up your wealth with property market. The phrase ‘property ladder’ dropped out of use in Japan after 1991 (here’s why). In Germany and France, most people rent. Politicians there have no incentive to fake prosperity by blowing a property bubble. Merryn Somerset Webb argued in a recent cover story that Osborne is doing just this. We’re living in freak economic circumstances where banks lend money at negative real interest rates, which is every bit as crazy as those 110 per cent mortgages given out in the bubble years.

In fact, the majority rent in Austria, Denmark the Netherlands, Korea, Sweden and the Netherlands as well as France and Germany. All of these countries get along just fine. And if young Brits prefer to rent, then there’s no reason they should not get along fine too.

UPDATE: Interesting Twitter reaction to this. I’ve had a few Londoners say that home ownership is self-evidently a great thing, but the young can’t afford it. Non-Londoners are more likely to say that the risk has put them off: as one puts it, ‘Generation Y is waiting out the bubble’.

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  • Warren O’Reilly

    The prospect of being tied to some shithole for 25 years and being at the mercy of the UK housing market (which has to crash at some point) scares me more than cancer.

  • Pablito

    I am in my late 30s and about to buy my first house. For years I have put it off muttering about property bubbles and house price to salary ratios. Since 2000, I have been sure that we would see a massive correction at some point.

    It hasn’t happened (at least within my frame and reference which is south-east england and london). Not even the recent crashes have put much of a dent in it.

    I have bitten the bullet now as I am paying more in rent than I would in a mortgage – thanks to ever-rising rental rates and seriously low interest rates.

    I have come to the opinion that the only thing that will dent the market now is interest rate rises into the region of 10% or so, forcing defaults on the many buy-to-let owners who are over-leveraged.

    Without this, the housing stock is too limited and prices, whilst they may stay static, are unlikely to drop by much.

    And should the rise happen and prices do drop, we will likely see an influx of buyers like me who have saved deposits over years and will be taking advantage of any lower price to buy our first house. This in itself will probably create a bottom to the market that means it will not drop that far.

    • andyyo

      I actually think house prices are simply too high. Wealth has to transfer from the old to the young. I don’t mean literally – but that the young have to have the same opportunity as the older generations did. If it’s much harder for younger generations now to by a home (than older generations), then a correction will occur at some point. Why? Because a healthy economy relies on the younger generations to not only have aspirations, but be able to achieve them AND have some kind of disposable income – to live to their potential (in capitalist terms). If we are to witness a significant DROP in the standards of living (which I believe we are going through), the economy is in a slow death spiral. We can’t have it both ways – we can’t have high house prices and a healthy economy. One precludes the other.

  • John Smith

    Its London that is skewing the whole thing.
    A Mansion Tax would be fair & helpful. After all, any gains are just a taxpayer funded windfall ..

  • David – The CFD Trader

    Once a house is built it generates no more money, rather, it just transfers money from one person to another. I don’t blame the young for not buying into it and high house prices are damaging for the economy anyway, they suck money out of the real economy as people’s wages are spend serving debt and can’t go into anything productive.

    • itdoesntaddup

      Houses are consumers of money. They have to be kept maintained. They attract added taxes.

  • chan chan

    They’re not buying because they can’t afford it. Even with all time low interest rates. Add in fiscal and monetary policy which has resulted in overvaluing by 30-40%, and inflation running at 8% at least, wages down, and they can’t afford it.

    For those who can, start thinking about buying soon, and get a fixed rate mortgage. Rates are going to rise, irrespective of fiscal and monetary policy. The market is going to force rates up, and property values as well as other asset markets will take off. This will be against the background of a stagnant real economy, crawling on its belly for years more.

  • Abhay

    I am finding these incessant articles on home-ownership boring and exhausting. I hope I am not alone in feeling so.

  • JonBW

    There really isn’t much point discussing property without acknowledging the state of the jobs market. The debate in this country is entirely shaped by assumptions about housing supply with no reference to the collapse in wage levels and the evaporation of job security.

    Spain, Ireland et al have no shortage of ‘affordable homes’… it’s just that young people can’t afford them because there are no jobs; the Coalition and Labour seem determined that we should get into the same state.

  • Smithersjones2013

    They are the least likely to recommend that a young couple buys a house. And why?

    Why is it that the media ignore the bleedin’ obvious so often?

    In 1990 Student Loans were introduced, in 1998 tuition fees were introduced (just as Generation Y were becoming students) and increased in 2004 and again in 2011. Add to that, that the financial sector throughout the period when the first wave of Generation Y adults came of age were giving away credit as it it were going out of fashion and its easy to see how Generation Y are the first generation already up to their neck in debt before they even think of buying a house. Not only that but relatively low and stable inflation since the late nineties has meant that debt has retained its relative value more than at any time in the last 50 years and consequently debt has not been inflated away.

    Combine that with the current scenario of inflation outstripping earnings and the certainty that house loans will become even more expensive at some point in the medium term (as interest rates must rise) and is it any wonder more young people are renting? Any fool should be able to see that the current conditions are hardly encouraging to first time house buyers.

    PS Owning your own home, despite all the posturing and pontification by politicians and media types is not some sort of social/human’ right and never has been. Sometimes life just sucks and people can’t have everything they want.

    • Daniel Maris

      O ye of little ambition…

      If the Tories ever made any sense it was as the part of the 1980s that held out the promise of a property owning democracy. Of course no one was expecting teh government to hand them a house with a garden but it was something our citizens could aspire to in a realistic way.

      Increasingly, the lower middle classes are being immiserated by a raft of policies, chief of which is mass immigration.

      It’s not a good mix.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Well, I’m sure it’ll all get better, after your raft of policies comes on and immiserates them.

  • Baron

    To generalise only confuses the issue, but Baron reckons quite a chunk of the young don’t buy a flat or a house because they go to Glastonburies, prefer i-phones other gear (spending a fortune on new models, service contracts), and go boozing each weekend when coke ain’t that cheap.

    When Baron bought his first property he had to sell his car (it still had few months on an HP agreement), his mortgage payments were more than half his pitiful income each month. You try and tell it to today’s young.

  • Urbane_Gorilla

    All the younger people I speak to here in the US just point to their inability to scrape up a 20% down payment and closing costs on even a $100,000 home, which would of course cost them 1/2 what they pay in rent. Unfortunately, their cost of living and precludes saving for a down payment.

  • Daniel Maris

    I can’t speak for the rest of the country but in London our young citizens are being priced out of the market by mass immigration and oligarch acquisition. When a new Thames-side development goes up these days it’s snapped up overseas in hours. None of the accommodation is going to Londoners. So although the population is rising v. little new housing is being created.

    How to address the housing crisis:

    1. Bring in rent control.

    2. Prevent non-EU citizens owning new housing.

    3. Put a stop to mass immigration.

    4. Have a government backed programme to build and create new units in urban areas. Have a new “new town” programme based on land creation from the sea (following the Dutch example).

    • JamesdelaMare

      DM – I’m not sure there really is a “housing crisis”. There’s always been less housing than people want. People used to travel to work – from thirty or fifty miles away – and think nothing of it. Or they had local jobs in shops, builders yards and factories and could get there on foot or a quick bus ride. There’s a lot of riverside housing being built, and a lot that isn’t near the river, and you are right about that.

      However there is really only one reason why house prices have risen so high. That is the amount of money which was, and still is, made available for the purchase of houses. There have been hundreds of articles on this subject in recent times, and thousands of comments, but people simply don’t understand that basic reason. When I was on the staff of the Building Societies Association over fifty years ago, house buying funds were very strictly limited – and there was no house price inflation. there couldn’t be. We need to re-learn that, and apply controls as you suggest on who can be a property owner here.

  • itdoesntaddup

    It’s not correct to talk glibly of inflation reducing prices in real terms. It has had the opposite effect: incomes have remained almost static in nominal terms while inflation in living expenses leaves less money for housing – whether rented or purchased.

    Falling real pay actually makes houses more expensive in real terms.

    • Daniel Maris


  • Q46

    The cause? One word ”Government”.

    Prices go up politicans shriek something must be done; prices go down politicians shriek something must be done.

    Building regs, particularly stupid save the planet regs, drive building prices up. Land use regs make land more expensive. So less new housing stock; more expensive to build.

    Give away mortgage deals also help distort the market, to keep prices up which otherwise would fall.

    And when they are not skewing house prices, they are at it in the rental market by subsidising rents for ”the poor” meaning ”the poor” can ”afford” at taxpayers’ expense to live in accommodation that the taxpayers paying their rent cannot afford.

    If politicians would just leave things alone ( I know, I know… fond wish) the free market would sort it out, resulting in fingers burned, lessons learned, sensible pricing levels in future.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …that’s all crazy talk. Nurse, come medicate this patient. The great socialist project can’t carry forth with lunatics running around spreading such poison.

    • dalai guevara

      ‘save the planet regs’ – ha, excellent.
      Save your wallet regs more like. Why is it that everyone in Northern Europe understands that when it comes to residential construction standards, triple (!) glazing is here to stay – yet in Britain, Queen Victoria still pushes the boundaries of design?

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …apparently, you fascists have a good deal of work in front of you, yes? Best get those plans for the camps onto the fast track.

        If they won’t submit to your fascist benevolence, there are always final solutions to that problem.

        • dalai guevara

          Oh dear, the white hot spotlight shines brightly on your character from all sides. Ugly what it reveals.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            You’re vibrating again, comrade.

            • dalai guevara

              If your favourite domina Mother Theresa ever got her way, and all your eagerly-anticipated surveillance bills got passed, I would sue your @rse off for libel, sonny boy.
              Cherish your last days in which reactionism remains firmly in the closet.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                No, you and Leveson and May are the surveillance gauleiters, laddie. You enjoy every bit of what they’re doing, and only wish to speed up the camp openings, so as to add some teeth to their good works, extinguishing liberty.

                It’s what you fascists do.

  • Will Rees

    Surely if the bottom rungs of the property ladder are too high than it ain’t really a ladder and it is a bubble, market forces and all that.

  • therealguyfaux

    On the one hand, young people aren’t purchasing homes as readily as they once did. (Home ownership conduces to voting Tory, sez you, while paying rent conduces to Labour.) On the other hand, the Tories have a following in the Gen Y cohort higher than one would have expected, according to recent polling. Is there a message in here about financial responsibility, that’s to do with not succumbing to previous pandering to consumerist dreams of being the lord/lady of one’s own personal manor? (Those concerned with financial responsibility would tend Tory, you’d figure.)

    Somebody’s playing Abbott here, and somebody else is expected to be playing Costello. The trick is to figure out which one is which.

  • andagain

    It seems that if you send prices high enough, people start getting priced out of the market.

    Who would have thought it?

  • CraigStrachan

    But are UK houses expensive because of too much debt, or because of too few houses?

    • itdoesntaddup

      There are plenty of houses. Many of them are empty. Foreigners buy new properties and keep them empty in London. Average occupancy is just 2.3 per dwelling across the UK as a whole. Hardly overcrowding on average, is it, even if a London council flat may be sublet to a dozen impecunious immigrants.

      • CraigStrachan

        Maybe it’s too few houses in the right place, then?

        • JonBW

          Or maybe it’s too few jobs in the right place.

          We have not addressed the real problem which is depopulation of the North resulting from de-industrialisation.

  • Matthew Blott

    Privately educated Fraser Nelson thinks young people aren’t buying homes because they are part-time business analysts waiting for the right opportunity. That might be the reason for young people where he comes from but for the majority the reason is boringly simple – they simply can’t afford to.

    • HookesLaw

      They are saving up – for the deposit – and waiting for the right opportunity more like.
      If home ownership is so difficult then why do we read of rising house prices?

      • Matthew Blott

        I suppose I’m going by the young people I speak to – including members of my own family. And that’s what they tell me. There are other factors that drive up house prices: Russian oligarchs and Arab petro-billionaires are happy to pay over the odds which means prices inflate and demand increases as the middle class are squeezed. That’s not the only reason of course but my point was Fraser Nelson lives in a different world from most people and has a habit of misinterpreting data.

        • itdoesntaddup

          Overseas money mainly influences the London market (and a few Home Counties manor houses) – which is why it has become detached from the rest of the country. It is shocking to discover that three quarters of newbuild property in London was sold off plan to overseas buyers last year, much of it to be kept vacant as a speculative investment. Asian buyers are now prominent in this market.

          The rest of the market is supported by the subsidies given to Landlords to outbid other buyers – cheap mortgages, and subsidies to the rents they charge. BTL investors seem to believe this bounty will never end. So far, they’ve been proved right.

          • Little Black Censored

            Is “newbuild” the same as “new”?

            • itdoesntaddup


              A New Build Property is defined as:

              a building that has been built in the last 24 months which includes property bought directly from a builder or developer
              a property that has yet to be occupied for the first time


              a property that is yet to be occupied in its current form, for example following a renovation or conversion.

      • McRobbie

        You keep reading of rising house prices because the property industry including estate agents and house builders cannot allow the thought to be spread that house prices are not rising.. and they are not rising..for the simple reason no one can afford to get on the ladder.

  • dalai guevara

    Fraser, whenever you assert something was a ‘huge success’, I would politely advise you to double-check how many successful foreign nations copied this ‘success’, given its unscrutinised brilliance. You would do this when evaluating Flash Gordon’s legacy, so why not Thatcher’s?

    • CraigStrachan

      That’s ridiculous – Flash saved every one of us.

      • dalai guevara

        Exactly! That’s why international bodies are hand-wringingly competing to appoint him as an adviser. What a fierce affair.

  • CortUK

    Meanwhile the Housing Benefit bill – which increasingly is going to just a few tens of thousands of BTL investors – heads for £50,000,000,000 a year and is already the third biggest cost to the state after health and pensions. Watch it become the second biggest by 2020 if current policies are retained.


  • CortUK

    “The majority rent in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Korea, Sweden and the Netherlands. These countries get along just fine, because tenants have strong rights and protection under strong laws designed to protect them. And if young Brits prefer to rent, then there’s no reason they should not get along fine too if the government had the will to provide equally strong tenants’ rights and protections.”


  • CortUK

    “Outside of the capital, houses are between 10 per cent over and 20 per cent off 2007 levels in real terms.”


  • CortUK

    “The Clinton government was much taken with this and hawked underpriced debt. Mortgages were given to young couples who had not a cent of deposit and no means of paying the money back. The subprime crisis was born. We all know how that movie ended.”


  • CortUK

    “The Thatcher right-to-buy scheme (first thought of under Labour’s Hugh Gaitskell, almost introduced under Labour PMs Wilson and Callaghan, and supported by successive Labour leaders/PMs Neil Kinnock, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown) was a huge success”


  • PT

    Over the past 20 years or so, almost every government intervention in UK housing market (in the name of ‘helping’ buyers’), has resulted in housing getting more expensive and fewer and fewer home-owners. Perhaps creating a renting underclass is the government’s real aim? After all, politicians, banks, lenders, landowners are all essentially rent-seekers.

    Whilst a generation of renters may be socially destructive, we also have the upside of unprecedented growth in an amateur landlord class. Vast numbers of normal people will achieve passive incomes (ie.income without working) and asset wealth on a scale never witnessed before.

    • Ron Todd

      I was an amateur landlord for a while and made little money from it. I was made redundant I got a job offer from the other side of the country that was dependent on me starting within a week. With no time to sell up my only option was to rent out the flat After the expenses I had a profit of about £300 a month of which of course the government took its share in tax. I was left with enough to pay half my rent. To make a living out as a landlord I would have needed to have three or four properties to get to an income equivalent to what I was earning through work.

  • Dogsnob

    Young people are not buying their own homes, not because they might spy any bubble, but because they have been priced out of the market. Even young professionals find it difficult.

    How has this happened? Well, flooding the nation with millions of foreigners over the last decade, might conceivably have affected the supply/demand ratio?

    And Thatcher’s ‘right to buy’ has turned a bit sour. Having been bought, many of these properties are now sold on into the portfolio of landlords whose rents are far higher than the level, had they remained in public ownership. It’s quite an industry and the result has been to reduce the available social housing stock. Council revenues down, waiting lists massively lengthened, DSS bill for private rented tenants hugely increased. Good scheme eh?

    • HookesLaw

      People need to save for a deposit. The days of 120% mortgages which created the last bubble are gone.

      • itdoesntaddup

        The last bubble hasn’t gone though. And Osborne is busy trying to add the next one to it.

        • Abhay

          A new bubble is on its way with all the statist enthusiasm about helping young people get on to the property ladder.

      • Dogsnob

        Thanks for that statement of the obvious. Did you have anything of any more substance to offer?

  • HookesLaw

    Burden young people with debt?
    There was me thinking it was allowing young people to buy an asset instead of giving landlords a return on theirs.
    What alternative is there to owning a home? Renting one – and the difference in cost is what precisely?

    Young people may well rent a small 1 bedroom flat just before and after marriage but from my observation they continue to aspire to move on to a house they own in due course, not least after they have children.

    If I had wanted to put some spin on these figures I would have said that young people realise that they have to be flexible where they live as they may need to be flexible in their employment options. This flexibility of labour is good for the economy. But Mr Nelson can only look for negative spin. ie the usual rubbish.

    • Richard

      The cost difference in renting and buying is liabilities: If you rent, you don’t have the liabilities to the bank and you don’t have liabilities to do any substantial maintenance. Over the long term you pay for this alleviation in risk with higher contributions through rent.

      I think moving to their own home is an eventual goal, but it’s not the panacea – it really does depend on your circumstances. Renting seems a prudent choice for a lot of young people who may not be certain of future incomes or where they will need to move for work.

      • ProffessorPlum

        “If you rent, you don’t have the liabilities to the bank and you don’t have liabilities to do any substantial maintenance.”

        And since the changes in social security with a mortgage you only get interest paid – and that after a long wait. If you rent, your rent is paid when you get put out of work.
        At the end of nineties many people were selling and moving into rented accommadation for that reason.

      • HookesLaw

        The article talks about burdening people with debt when the alternative (which it ignores) is to burden them with rent. There is a cost no matter what you do and you have an asset in return for your mortgage payment.
        The article is a load of cobblers.

        • Derick Tulloch

          An asset which is likely to depreciate is not so attractive, no?

  • Ulysses Returns

    My 28 year old daughter has a Masters from UCL and earns around £28,000. Her fiancee with whom she lives, also with a Masters, can earn about £30,000 with commissions so a combined income of just under £60,000 and both paying taxes and high commuting costs. They rent a studio flat in Ricmond-on-Thames for £1,000 a month with very high council tax. In order to buy anything at all they would need my support or to buy well outside London. Contrast this with the hundreds of thousands in central London on housing assistance, mostly non-taxpayers, who complain about having to move as their allowances are reduced. Neither labour or the coalition are offering anything for people in my daughter’s key demographic but she and her partner are the future, not the Romanians camped outside my doorstep in Marylebone who will probably receive free housing next year.

    • telemachus

      The demographics of my son and daughter in law are similar and they have moved from SELondon to a small Kent town and commute and life is much cheaper. Further with a little deposit help they will be able to buy something where they are soon.
      The difference between them and the folk you wish to do down is that our offspring have prospects and family backing and therefore choice
      Yet the disadvantaged by and large have no prospects and no backing and are pushed around by petty bureaucrats and have no dignity
      Have you no compassion?

      • dalai guevara

        No TM, the next thing UR will say is that the studio his offspring are renting is owned by immigrant Greeks/Iraqis or whathaveyou. THAT of course is why things need to change. If London property was actually in the hands of the indigenous, then there would be no issue, would there?

        Much the same applies to the non-existent social housing market. Sheds with beds raking in the landlord benefit now cater for the needy, again you may guess as to who owns those.

        So to summarise, over the years the country was slowly but surely bled dry, the Gold was sold to pay for things, our North Sea Oil went much the same way, then did all the property (especially in London). Water companies are no longer ours, nor are energy or transport firms. All gone. Sold down the river instead of keeping hold of them. Now foreign government-owned concerns make their profits here, laughing all the way to the bank (where do they pay tax?).

        Not a single commodity left that is owned by the people of this country. Oh hang on, there is one… the gas below our feet. Yet I am certain our current government is doing their utmost to ensure it is sold off, too – in best neo-liberal tradition.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …sounds like the ground is ready for you fascists to do your usual.

          • telemachus

            When I was at school fascists were hostile to liberal democracy, socialism, and communism and adhered an emphasis on ultranationalism and militarism.
            Me and my Europhile colleagues cannot be accused of any of that

            • Andy

              Fascists are Socialists you idiot. Hitler was a Socialist. Mussolini was originally a communist.

              • telemachus

                I may be an idiot but I know a fascist when I reply to one

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …what… are you replying to yourself again, comrade?

                • Andy

                  You shouldn’t talk to yourself you idiotic old Fascist.

          • dalai guevara

            Well, ‘the market’ has failed spectacularly..
            Britain is sick and tired of it, having to watch how nations as diverse as Switzerland, Germany and Norway, with much less favourable geographic and ideological outset are far outperforming your good old neo-liberal dream world.

            • the viceroy’s gin

              Instructive to see you 2 fascists lining up together.

              And no, you don’t speak for an entire “Britain”, laddie. You speak for only the fascist portion.

              • dalai guevara

                I see there is nothing of substance coming my way.
                Not a jot.
                Am I surprised you are having another bad day?

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  You fascists feel entitled to be met by something other than a white hot spotlight? Dream on, comrade.

                • dalai guevara

                  That makes it three!

                  If you’re not a neolib, you’re a fascist.
                  Leveson loves snooping.
                  Mother Theresa is a lefty.

                  My word, you are out-underperforming yourself today

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  No, you’re drifting into the indecipherable again. I’d still recommend you move to Cyrillic, although you and Leveson and May can likely keep up your liberty theft in any language, no doubt, at least until you get the camps opened and step into your end game solutions.

                • Little Black Censored

                  Gosh, a message that doesn’t mention fascism (whatever he thinks that means)!

              • JamesdelaMare

                VG – I’m not clear why you’re attacking what he wrote. Of course many of us have seen this too. It has been sold off and the proceeds frittered away. It’s been going on for thirty years. When whole service industries are sold off, property and the contents of houses, factories and warehouses as well, and all belong to alien interests, they take the profits away from us.

                I don’t see (despite my long-term interest in political and economic affairs over nearly sixty years) why you should denigrate his comment as something to do with fascism? It seems to have no connection whatsoever with fascism. Perhaps you would kindly explain?

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  No, I don’t think I’ll bother wasting time explaining the fundamentals of fascism to you. You should already know this, and if you don’t, you need to educate yourself.

                  Pay me, and I’ll help you. Otherwise, you’re on your own.

                  The fascist in question knows exactly what’s in play, and is vibrating like a tuning fork at being confronted, so maybe you can look there for your answers.

                • James Strong

                  I don’t think you are able to explain it.I think you have just thrown in a well-worn term without understanding it. You hide behind anonymity and affect a patronising/insulting tone that you wouldn’t use in person, but when a reasonable request is made of you it becomes necessary for you to sidestep.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  No, I understand it quite well, but apparently you don’t.

                  Again, if you require remedial education, you can pay me, and I’ll provide it.

                • JamesdelaMare

                  VG – If you’re not prepared to explain the meaning of what you wrote, it would have been better, of course, not to have written it in the first place. I do already know something of the fundamentals of fascism, as most of my generation would, but your use of the word seems to have no significance here at all beyond being a silly cheap insult. An insult, moreover, which has become widely used since 1945 – without justification.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Yes, fascists would prefer that things are “not written in the first place”. That’s sort of a hallmark of fascism.

                  You’re vibrating like a tuning fork, laddie.

      • Rhoda Klapp8

        I spy a bubble.

        Never known Fraser to use rhyming slang before.

        • telemachus

          The most interesting piece of Fraser’s article is his reference to Letwin’s book in which Margaret Thatcher is described thus;

          “a time serving trimmer on the model of all of her most mediocre predecessors”
          (page 2)

    • Andy

      Correct. But what we should do is reduce Housing Benefit which has merely inflated rents and also prices. And frankly I wouldn’t live in Richmond-on-Thames. There are places which offer far better value.

      • Derick Tulloch

        Reintroduce rent controls, introduce longer term tenancies in the private rented sector (as in most of continental Europe), deregulate ‘Planning’ and redirect the public money currently wasted on Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance to building rented housing at genuinely affordable rents. Do away with bizarre and byzantine benefits system which almost always acts as a work disincentive and replace it with a guaranteed flat rate citizen income, paid to all working or not working. See ‘A Town Without Poverty’ for an example