Friday, 11 April 2014

The dangers of the Unrewarded Middle

Selina Todd writing in the Guardian has a point when she suggests that most people don't identify with being 'hard-working families' as Miliband imagines from his isolated and away-with-the-fairies illusion of what ordinary folk are like. It's a fantasy world that exists purely in the Miliband head. 'Ordinary people who have to work' is by far a more accurate description. 

Likewise, the 'squeezed middle' has proved to be a soggy squib. Recent research suggests that the middle reacted to 2008 by knuckling down, cutting costs, repaying loans, skimping on foreign travel and new cars and even with cuts in universal Welfare benefits made adjustments. Fortuitously, the car industry has been saved by the thieving bankers grudgingly having to repay billions in PPI compensation, most of which has been spent on new cars and white goods. 

And 'we're all in this together' has proven to be true only for the very wealthy, who as a group have seen their incomes soar as the rest of the country is stuck on zero percent pay increases. Few will view as equitable an arrangement under which all are required to endure hardship but only some are rewarded. 

And of course those home-owners living in London and the south east are seeing increases of up to 30% over 2008 levels for their homes.

So I think there's a new political cliche lurking out there waiting out there to be discovered - the 'unrewarded middle' - those working in manufacturing or professions untouched by the consumer-spending led recovery, living in areas in which house prices haven't yet recovered their 2008 levels, burdened by student debt and with abilities and qualifications that won't win them secure well-paying work, who have obeyed all the rules and see nothing before them but a lifetime of unwelcome graft, struggle and grief. Such folk will be deservedly angry at all the political promises - and intelligent enough to realise that whilst politicians may be unable to offer salvation, they can at least be kicked hard when the opportunity of the ballot-box arises.

10 comments:

DeeDee99 said...

There is already a cliché for the "unrewarded middle." They're the "coping class." Coping, because they have to: because, sure as night follows day, not one of LibLabCON gives a monkey's about them and not one will do anything to make their lives easier.

They are summed up by the proliferation of "Keep Calm and Carry On" tat which is currently on sale.

They are the people LibLabCON rely on to keep the country ticking over; not to make a fuss; to draw in their belts so that the Elite can continue to milk the system for all it's worth and to resignedly see their incomes taxed to oblivion and their paltry savings decimated by negative interest rates and inflation so that the Government can play Lady Bountiful and doesn't actually HAVE to make the tough choices they continually witter on about.

I'm in the coping class.

But I'm angry. And that's what it's going to take to change things in the UK: a bit of real, honest, dig your heels in and refuse to budge anger - best expressed in the ballot box by refusing to be bribed with your own money and voting for REAL change.

strawbrick said...

There are three points to be made about house prices.
Firstly, the "profit" only exists if you sell the property, whereupon it is eaten by the need to pay an inflated price for the next place to live in (except when you down-size or die).
Secondly, if you do buy and sell the costs can be in excess of £25,000!
Finally, can we please stop referring to the "housing ladder" and people getting their feet on the "first rung".

FrankS said...

Too right Strawbrick - the rise in house prices benefits precious few - at a devastating cost to society as a whole. Do you remember how, as recently as the 1960s, it was quite usual for a couple to start a family in their early twenties, and pay a mortgage, all on one fairly average income.
That is virtually impossible now - decades of house price inflation being a major driver in this damaging but largely urconsidered social revolution.

English Pensioner said...

My house has shot up in value, but it's totally impossible to realize any of it. If I sell, I need another home, which could be smaller, but by the time I have paid all the fees and costs, which I guestimate as being well in excess of £50K, any move is likely to leave me out of pocket unless I'm prepared to move well away from my family outside the south east.
My children will inherit the house one day, but a large chunk of the value will go to the exchequer.
So we're stuck.

crisp said...

House price rises increases the collateral held by banks, who create more nominal money on the back of the rising price of assets (including property).

Of course the fact that they create money out of thin air, (see latest quarterly BoE bulletin) means they inflate the price spiral further and they acquire real assets when the inevitable bust comes and are TBTF so cant lose.

A fairytale more malignant than the worst either of the Grimm's could come up with.

Raedwald said...

I don't disagree with the points about house prices - all true - but most people still see the equity in their homes as part of their retirement provision, to be realised by downsizing or selling up and moving to Spain ...

John M said...

Somehow I can't see "the f**ked over middle who we're going to keep screwing because we can" having quite the poetic ring to it that Cameron & Miliband's PRs are after.

Bill Quango MP said...

by downsizing or selling up and moving to Spain ...

Which with the current housing price collapse in Spain should mean a comfortable retirement if you can do it in the nest few years.

G. Tingey said...

Careful Radders, you're starting to sound like a socialist.
A real socialist, of course as opposed to Milibean.
I suppose it goes with having a fake tory/capitalist like Camoron in charge.....

G. Tingey said...

ANOTHER VIEWPOINT

http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2014/04/generation-z.html