In the not-so-distant past, politicians proudly celebrated the rise in house prices as a sign of the growing prosperity of middle-class Britain. The increasing value of homes symbolised opportunities for “aspirational” families to establish themselves on the property ladder.
However, this narrative has now flipped. Skyrocketing house prices reveal a deep policy failure, exacerbated by stagnant wages. The younger generation is facing the harsh reality of ‘capitalism without capital,’ and rising interest rates make homeowners with massive mortgages vulnerable. The exorbitant cost of housing has become a pressing concern, affecting anyone under 40, particularly younger renters who face frequent and costly moves.
The Conservative Party, historically aligned with the values of homeownership, finds itself at a critical juncture on this issue. Caught between the concerns of NIMBY MPs focused on re-election and the urgent need to address the housing crisis, the party is at a crossroads. Although conservative-leaning think tanks have advocated for increased housebuilding, the reality remains that Tory prime ministers, despite having held power for 13 years, have failed to adequately address the housing demand. And the party now faces a surprising phenomenon of older NIMBY Tory voters lending their support to the Green Party (in recent local elections) due to their opposition to housing developments, further compounding the headache for Number 10.
In this context, Keir Starmer and the Labour Party have entered the debate, promising to tackle the housing crisis head-on. Starmer pledges to allow building on the Green Belt and stand with the “builders” rather than the “blockers.” The sheer number of individuals locked out of homeownership presents a significant opportunity for Labour. It is an area where the Tories have consistently fallen short of their rhetoric, leaving many across the country feeling neglected.
The Labour Party has calculated that they can afford to overlook the ultra anti-development population, as public sentiment overall has shifted in their favour. The Conservatives now finds themselves trapped, as they cannot maintain long-term credibility if homeownership becomes an unattainable dream for a growing portion of the electorate.