“RENT FEE BLOW TO STRIVERS” goes the main headline tonight. Below it reads: “Rent unaffordable across half of England for the poorest working families, as they’re forced to blow over a third of their wages on the costs.”
Yes, yes, I cry. And there’s more:
“POORER working families across almost half the country are now being forced to blow at least a third of all their wages on rent, a shock new report has found. Anything more than 30% of monthly salaries having to go on housing costs is deemed unaffordable as it pushes people into debt.”
You’re talking my language now.
“The average rent charged for all properties is now out of reach for minimum wage earning families in 79% of all local authorities – almost four out of five.”
Indeed. The report goes on to say what we know. That many working people are being driven into poverty and going without food to cover housing costs. And where is this story being run? Why, our old friends the Sun.
Compiled in the political and journalistic sewers, the Sun blames the government’s failure to build new homes and the population explosion. This may well be true to a point, even though the government does not actually build homes. But I would go much, much further than this.
Why do we have so many people on or near the minimum wage in the first place? If you are on the minimum wage, you have little to no chance of buying or renting anywhere at all, unless you dispense with luxuries like food and electric.
And house prices. Oh, yes, house prices, still increasing at a rapid rate of knots, partly through buy-to-letters (it is not illegal to buy-to-let, but buy-to-let has consequences) and George Osborne’s deliberately stoked housing boom in order to help sustain economic growth. But has the Sun had a road to Damascus revelation? Has it hell.
As it’s coverage of last year’s general election, this year’s referendum and all points before, between and after, the Sun’s entire editorial line stands against the vast majority of its largely working class readership. The Sun, and it’s vile owner Rupert Murdoch, preaches the language of hate, of fear, of division, of racism, of bigotry, of sexism and of homophobia. It does not present the news, it slants the news. Put simply, the Sun tells lies. And if anyone dares disagree with the billionaire Murdoch’s agenda, they are the enemy. They become the luvvies, the liberal elite, the remoaners.
There is no love in the Sun, just hate. Britain is the country where everything is bad, nothing works and quite often it’s all the fault of foreigners. Filthy dirty migrants, like my late grandfather who came from Norway and my late mother who came from the Netherlands, both of whom worked all their lives and never claimed a penny in benefits. The Sun hates parasites like them. I jest, but only slightly. I am half expecting Murdoch, an Australian with an American passport, to repatriate campaign to have their ashes deported.
According to the Sun, then, the lower orders, as they doubtless regard them, are the strivers. What is that supposed to mean? Those I know, struggling desperately on poverty pay, strive only to pay the bills and to avoid the indignity of attending a food bank. We are mostly all strivers because we all strive to do the best we can for our children and we want to get as far as we can in life. But the class structure, which still exists, and is represented by the likes of Murdoch, who laughably positions himself as an anti-establishment hero (yeah, right), keeps the working classes in their places. We are expected to be grateful for “our” lot, happy that we are still alive.
And there is nothing new about working people struggling to find somewhere to live. This is why council houses were built, why there are pockets of “affordable housing”, which in many places remains unaffordable.
Only the Sun would come out with the suggestion that this was “news”. News means what it says, it’s about things that are new. It provides no solutions, other than the “population explosion” which is an indirect, almost subliminal, but undoubtedly real, reference to the effects of immigration. And, in some areas, although by no means all, there are effects. The Sun is just reminding you to hate and blame foreigners.
But the main reason for our lack of affordable housing is the system in which we live, the unfettered, unregulated capitalism unleashed by Thatcher which still rules our lives. Still, we live in the world of Gordon Gekko where greed is good and to hell with everyone else.
If the Sun really cared about the “poorest working families” and their so-called “strivers”, they would not advocate the inequality their owner actively believes in and sustains. But they do, by supporting Thatcherite economics, in condemning organised labour and opposing at every step the very idea of equality and a meritocracy.
Wipe away the crocodile tears of the Sun, the plaything of an evil and sick billionaire and the home to poison pen journalists like Kelvin MacKenzie. They don’t care about you and I, they are not in any way, caring capitalists and certainly not socialists or even social democrats. They are journalistic vermin with no care or conscience. As long as you can afford to buy the Sun, Murdoch wouldn’t care if you lived or died and they certainly don’t care if you can’t afford to pay the rent. As an atheist, I sometimes wish there was a hell for them to go to.