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Britain today has a severe shortage of affordable housing – and the young, in particular, are furious. Michael Gove, the minister who’s responsible for housing, seems all too grimly aware of this. At the weekend, he said he fears that young people’s fury over the issue could lead them to give up on democracy.
It’s certainly possible. I do wonder, though, whether these understandably furious young people have paused to ask themselves how this dreadful shortage of housing came about.
According to the most recent figures, Britain is currently building around 210,000 new homes a year. At the same time, it has annual net migration of 672,000. It shouldn’t take an A* at A-level maths to identify the problem with this particular sum.
Curiously, however, a very large proportion of young people seem unable to spot it. Last year, the polling firm Kantar, in collaboration with the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, asked the public for its views on Britain’s levels of immigration. The results were striking. Older age groups overwhelmingly wanted immigration to be reduced. Yet the youngest age groups didn’t.
In both the 18-24 and 25-34 age groups, a quarter said they wanted Britain’s immigration levels to remain as they are. And, again in both age groups, a fifth said they actually wanted immigration to increase. Overall, there were more young people wanting immigration to remain high or get higher than wanting it to decrease.
They are entitled to hold this view. Immigration unquestionably has its benefits. I’m not absolutely convinced, however, that young people can demand record-breaking levels of immigration while simultaneously complaining that there isn’t enough housing any more. At the very least, I feel it may be worth their while considering whether the two issues might in some way be linked. Even if it would entail a grave risk of being thought a hateful Right-wing Brexity gammon by their friends.
Anyway, if young people want high immigration, the party they should be voting for is the Tories. In this particular area, after all, the Government has an unrivalled record of delivery.
They reject the UK... but not the UK’s money
As might perhaps be inferred from their name, the Belfast rap group Kneecap are firm supporters of the Irish republican cause. They wear balaclavas, write songs with titles such as Get Your Brits Out, and promoted their tour “Farewell to the Union” with a poster featuring a cartoon of Boris Johnson and the DUP’s Arlene Foster tied to a rocket on top of a bonfire.
Right now, however, Kneecap are even angrier with the UK Government than usual – because it’s just blocked them from receiving a £15,000 grant, funded by the British taxpayer. A spokesperson for Kemi Badenoch, the Business Secretary, said: “It’s hardly surprising that we don’t want to hand out UK taxpayers’ money to people that oppose the United Kingdom itself.” The members of Kneecap are so outraged by this, they’ve decided to sue.
I’m not a legal expert, and have no comment to make on the merits of their case. I do, however, have one small question.
Why did Kneecap want the grant in the first place?
In view of their staunch republican principles, I would have thought they’d be too proud to accept money from the British state. In fact, I would have expected them to say: “We refuse to take a single penny from the hated, blood-soaked, colonialist Brit regime. We neither want nor need their filthy handouts. Our group is fully and proudly independent of Britain – just like all of Ireland should be.”
That, it seems to me, would be the proper position for a group of fearless anti-establishment musical rebels to take. After all, I don’t recall, for example, the Sex Pistols going cap in hand to the government.
“Dear Prime Minister, I am the singer with a group of ‘punk rock’ musicians, and, to undermine the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II, we have written a song sarcastically entitled God Save the Queen. Its lyrics declare that Her Majesty ‘ain’t no human being’, liken the Royal family to a ‘fascist regime’, and describe anyone who supports the monarchy as ‘a moron’. I trust that Her Majesty’s Government will be willing to cover the full cost of recording, promotion, touring expenses etc. Yours faithfully, Mr J Rotten.”
Then again, the Sex Pistols didn’t need state funding. They were able to support themselves financially, by producing music that lots of people enjoyed so much they were willing to pay money to listen to it. I wonder whether it has occurred to Kneecap to try doing this.
All I can say is: Lord Haw-Haw missed a trick. He should have billed Churchill for his studio costs.
Way of the World is a twice-weekly satirical look at the headlines aiming to mock the absurdities of the modern world. It is published at 7am every Tuesday and Saturday