Monday, 26 May 2014

UKIP and Housing

From Rupert Myers in The Guardian

There is an argument raging about why London doesn't reflect the national polls when it comes to Ukip support. The party didn't do anywhere near as well in the capital as it did elsewhere. Some claim it shows how ethnically diverse London is, and how tolerant. I don't believe that London is any more tolerant than any other parts of Britain. What it has is wealth, and a property market that has pushed out working-class residents. Thus in London Ukip has both smaller networks of activists and fewer people likely to vote for it.

When the main parties are able to unveil policies that assure the least well-off that they are on their side, when the housing market doesn't make people scared that their children will never own homes, then support for Ukip will collapse. When Ukip supporters cite immigration, it's not because they don't like the faces of people moving in down the road, it's because they fear the road is now unaffordable for their children to live on.

If you've not read the whole piece, Rupert Myers is a Conservative down in London, and he's written what I think is generally a good piece that is saying that you can't just stand around calling UKIP supporters braindead racists - it's more complex than that. And that's a mature view of the situation.

The trouble is that where UKIP are at their strongest is in areas like the South West which are very much white and without many European immigrants. OK, there's some black people in Bristol and a few people from the Indian sub-continent in Swindon*, but it's mostly white and there isn't a big influx of immigrants. And yet, they campaign across the UK in their manifesto for

• In planning, the local people's opinions should be respected and not overruled.

That's an even more brutal version of the homeownerist protection charter of the Conservatives. If you're worried about your kids getting housed, voting UKIP for that reason is pretty crazy.


Bayard said...

"If you're worried about your kids getting housed"

People aren't worried about their kids getting housed. If that was all, they'd be content if their kids found somewhere nice to rent. What they worry about is their kids not being able to afford to get onto the magic money tree they call "the housing ladder".

The Stigler said...


I'm not. I'm more worried about how much rent costs. Then again, I may be unusual in that I'm not a homeownerist.

Mark Wadsworth said...

I think the UKIP woman said it best: "People in London don't vote UKIP because they are young, tolerant and well-educated".

And it is people living in London who are most affected by the house price bubble. Many of them believe that building more housing might help get prices down, so these people aren't going to vote UKIP/NIMBY either.

Mark Wadsworth said...

… in other words, the part of the article you quoted is just about as 100% close to being the opposite of correct as is possible.

chefdave said...

I think we all know why they don't vote UKIP in London, and it has little to do with their education ;)

UKIP's housing policy is stem the flow of immigrants, that's about it. This is a good policy, but it will hardly solve the housing crisis because its not bases on the economic reality of rent. I haven't even mentioned LVT in my local UKIP branch, I don't imagine it will get a very good reception. Its also electoral suicide and not a battle we should be taking on right now.

The Stigler said...

Indeed. He might have met a few working class Londoners whose kids can't "get on the ladder", but in reality, that's not the base of UKIP's support. Their support is in places like the South West.

I don't believe it's electoral suicide for a party that appeals to more of the working/lower middle-class voters outside of London. In fact, it should be a vote winner as they'll be the people who gain from it.

The problem is the massive amount of homeownerist brainwashing that everyone is up against.

Bayard said...

"Many of them believe that building more housing might help get prices down, so these people aren't going to vote UKIP/NIMBY either."

No, no, NIMBYs aren't against building more houses. I am sure that lots of them think building more houses is a great idea, just not next to them. OK, people think the same in other parts of the country, but they are just wrong. Every NIMBY thinks that their town/village/part of the city is a special case.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, you are misquoting me and missing the point.

People who wants houses to be built to bring prices down wants them built in the area where he already lives, not somewhere else.

The "priced out generation" living in London want more homes built in London, not in Aberdeen or Londonderry.

So the "priced out generation" won't vote UKIP, unless they have fallen for this double-think that "immigrants push up house prices".

Try buying a house in Bradford, they are surprisingly cheap!

Rich Tee said...

I do not trust UKIP on housing because their membership is dominated by elderly homeowners who have paid off their mortgages. This is the group in society that benefits the most from constantly rising property prices because they are more likely to trade down to something smaller than trade up to something bigger.

They only thing they have in their favour is the possibility that they will control immigration.

Lola said...

TR I am AEHWHPOMM. It's lovely. But, I also have children....

Bayard said...

Mark, I think you are losing sight of what the BY in NIMBY stands for. NIMBYism is very short range. The new houses don't have to be built at the other end of the country, the next village or a few streets away is far enough for them.

The Stigler said...

Rich Tee,

That's a bit of a generalisation about old people. My father is in his 70s and supports more house building because he wants his grandchildren to be able to afford a home.

L fairfax said...

Surely if the house supply is less than demand then prices will go up.
Countries like Spain where house building is greater than immigration have house price crashes whilst countries like the UK where it isn't don't.

L fairfax said...

PS I do agree that UKIP is too homeownerist.

Anonymous said...

@L fairfax
Strikes me that the house price crash in Spain had little to do with too many houses, but rather the choking off of credit/collapse of mortgage lenders triggered by eurozone shenanigans.

Lola said...

Paulc156 - or the other way about. The unwarranted expansion of money and credit - and at the 'wrong' price - drove the speculative building boom and a return to sound money (ha ha) has choked off this speculation forcing prices to return to a market clearing level.

Anonymous said...

@Lola. Yes the fact that the Eurozone was interpreted as a one way bet for lenders who didn't demand a premium for lending to strapped for cash borrowers in Spain.
The shame is that borrowers have paid a heavy price with foreclosures and great hardship as interest rates rose along with unemployment, whereas reckless eurozone financial institutions [rentiers]most of whom were German, have been largely shielded from the consequences of their behaviour thanks to a 100B Euro bailout for Spain's big banks.

Bayard said...

"Surely if the house supply is less than demand then prices will go up."

No they don't, because they can't. It is an observable fact of human nature that people in Western countries, on the whole always pay the maximum they can afford for housing, even when supply is plentiful. Thus, when supply is restricted, the price can't go up as, if it did, no-one can afford to buy. If you don't beleive this, look at the 60s and 70's housing boom where unprecedented high levels of supply resulted in unprecedented price rises, not price falls.

What is true is that most people from Mark Carney downwards do actually think that restricting supply puts up prices. (Well, MC might beleive otherwise and just be lying, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt).

Mark Wadsworth said...

@ all, B is quite correct - it's a bit difficult to explain but observed facts tell us that if new housing (and other buildings) are built in the right places, overall rents and house prices go up.

Think about it - there are seven or eight million homes very close together in London, and that is where rents and house prices are highest.

This is because ultimately, people are paying for "location location location" and the value of the location is largely decided by population density (assuming adequate infrastructure etc).