http://austin-consulting.co.uk/?p=49337 defenseless I am a liberal. I didn’t actually realise it when I joined the party in 2017, days after that year’s general election. At the time I simply saw the Liberal Democrats as the only reasonable political choice that existed; but as I have developed within the party, I’ve come to realise that I have found my political home. Whether it’s our progressive stance on drugs reform, proudly standing up for LGBT rights or calling for an end to our outdated voting system – my views on some of the issues I care the most deeply about align closely to that of the party. And then it comes to housing…
Unlike some of the other issues I’ve mentioned, housing wasn’t really an issue I cared much about until a few years ago. When I moved out of the family home in 2019 though, I quickly realised the difficulties of navigating the private rental sector in London, with issues ranging from the sheer difficulty of finding suitable accommodation within budget, the lack of availability of houses meaning any “good” options seemed to get snapped up at lightning speed and, even after finding somewhere suitable, then having to deal with uncontactable and hard to reach landlords.
It also quickly dawned on me that, despite years of diligently saving, without the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ to rely on and as a single person living in London paying a significant chunk of my monthly income on rent, I would have little to no prospect of getting on the property ladder anytime soon.
It has therefore been with considerable distress that I have seen the Liberal Democrats, a party I have grown to love and spent significant time supporting, supporting stances which will seek to make it even harder for me to buy a home. It’s campaigns have focused more on protecting those asset-rich individuals who are not only fortunate enough to already own a property but also, in many cases, to have benefited from decades of inflation-busting rises in the value of said property rather than dealing with the housing crisis and those who are staring bleakly at the prospect of never owning a home.
I’d love to think that any anti-development stances the party has taken were just isolated incidents, but sadly, time and time again, I have seen Liberal Democrats in local government spend far more energy fighting against development than I have even seen them expend on tackling the housing crisis in their areas. Not only has seeing this been disappointing to me, but it also goes against what I thought were our core liberal principles to build a fairer society.
I also know that it doesn’t have to be this way – I’ve seen plenty of good examples of Lib Dem-run councils taking the lead on housebuilding from Eastleigh to Sutton, South Cambridgeshire to Chelmsford – proving that supporting action to fix the housing crisis and winning our electoral battles do not have to be mutually exclusive.
All this is why, this Saturday, I very much hope that attendees at conference are able to restore a little bit of my faith in the party and show that we do want to tackle the housing crisis and address the massive problems that come with it. By supporting the ‘Building Communities’ policy motion, though clearly not a magic bullet, it would show that we are not a party which dismisses the real struggles faced by so many people, particularly the young, who aren’t fortunate enough to own their own homes and that we can be serious about tackling the affordability crisis felt by so many.