The moment that has defined my approach to politics came when my mother told me the proudest moment of her life: buying her council house.
Growing up in Consett, a former steel town in the north east, that house seemed to be like any of the other identikit terraced properties in the area. But to my mother, it was an asset she now owned and was able to pass on to me and my siblings. Later in life, I realised that Right to Buy had opened up new avenues for my mother, beyond having a roof over her head: it gave her choice, security, and a sense of achievement and self esteem. Especially as a single parent with three kids.
That’s why it angers me when darlings of the Left like Laura Pidcock, the Labour newcomer and MP for North West Durham, pop up on Question Time to rail against politics which appeal to the aspirational working classes. During her appearance, Pidcock railed against Right to Buy, saying it was about time we looked at housing “through a human rights perspective rather than just seeing it… as a commodity or an asset, or something that we can float on the stock market, or whatever it is and bank lots of house(s) in London”.
Pidcock claims to be a champion for constituents like my mother, while seeking to limit opportunities for the aspirational working class. But it gets worse. Pidcock once claimed that she was unable to buy a house on her MP salary of £76,000, and has in the past suggested that she would like to live in a council house but there aren’t enough. This didn’t stop her buying a £230,000 house with National Union of Teachers official Daniel Kebede in September.
I agree with critics who argue that housing demand is massively outstripping supply and who say that, alongside the Brexit negotiations, we need the Government to fund a massive programme of housebuilding. Homes to rent but with a right to buy. Homes that young people can afford to start a family in. But if we listen to the likes of Pidcock on housing, we will limit choice and opportunity for people just like my mother and create an economy that works for the few, not the many.