Yesterday evening, my husband and I; along with my 73 year old mum and 26 year old son and his live-in girlfriend, gathered round the tv to watch the new Labour Party Broadcast.
I urge you to watch it yourself, but in a nutshell it focused on housing, and more specifically generation rent. A young couple in their thirties, with a four year old daughter, were the first family to be introduced to us. The woman was a full time nurse, and the man worked in the hospitality industry on a zero hour contract. All their money went on rent, food and bills, which made it impossible for them to save up to buy their own home. The woman talked whistfully about how the decision to have another child rested upon whether they could afford to rent a bigger property; and from where I was sitting, it looked like their daughter was never going to have a sibling.
Then we moved onto the second family, which comprised of a single mum who worked thirty hours a week as a school chef, and her three children. Money was so tight she couldn’t afford to rent a property large enough for her whole family, so her teenage son was consigned to the sofa. It brought a tear to my eye when she spoke of her feelings of inadequacy as a parent.
But behind that immediate feeling of empathy sat a groundswell of anger. It shouldn’t be this way, I kept thinking to myself. The shortage of truly affordable housing in this country is driving people to despair.
I glanced across at my son several times during the broadcast. As a support worker caring for adults with physical and learning disabilities, he feels a great sense of satisfaction in his work, but it’s low paid, with no holiday pay or sick pay, so he lives at home. His girlfriend has recently moved in with him, sharing his tiny nine foot by seven foot bedroom. She works for a large online book company, but is also paid just above the minimum wage. They could just about afford to rent, but they’ve done their sums, and realise once they start renting they’ll never be able to save, or even have much money left over for holidays. And even if they continue to live at home, they are looking at five or six years before they have a deposit of any great use to them. And that’s just to buy a studio flat. Starting a family isn’t even on the distant horizon.
But I saw a look on my sons face during that broadcast that I haven’t seen for a long time. He looked hopeful. Hearing a Labour leader and several Labour MP’s, talking so passionately and powerfully about security at work, a real living wage, and building homes to rent and buy, was music to his and his girlfriends ears.
And my son would not have been the only one, which is why I wasn’t surprised when I went on Twitter to assess the response to the broadcast, only to read tweet after tweet tearing it to shreds. Hmm, I thought, that broadcast has really got them worried. You see that’s how Twitter works; the more you’re trolled, the more you are hitting a nerve.
The type of Labour Party broadcast that would have kept the Twitter trolls in their box, would have been a broadcast that didn’t bring hope to my son and the millions of young people like him. Anyone Trolling that broadcast last night has a vested interest in work remaining insecure, wages remaining low and house building remaining sparse. In other words, to keep the trolls happy we have to kill all hope for a fairer, more hopeful Britain. Well I say stuff that.
Let’s bring on the trolls.