Aren't you forgetting something, Nick?
The Liberal Democrats unveiled the front page of their general election manifesto this week, which revealed what their top priorities are for their campaign and any potential post-election coalition negotiations. Disappointingly there's not a single reference to the housing crisis to be found. Here are the 5 reasons why Nick Clegg is making a big mistake:
- Housing is rising up the agenda. It is already regularly found to be one of the public's top 5 issues in the opinion polls, and with house prices getting further out of reach, homeownership in long term decline and housebuilding still nowhere near where it needs to be, housing will only grow as an issue. They are choosing to prioritise education and the environment instead, but housing is seen as an equally important issue to these.
- They're aren't keeping up with their opponents. The Conservatives have already stated they will make 'homeownership' one of their campaign themes, and we are anticipating that Labour will put housing on their pledge card. By not giving the housing crisis due prominence, the Lib Dems are likely to cede ground to their opponents.
- They actually have the boldest housebuilding policy. The official Lib Dem policy to build 300,000 homes per year makes them the only party with a housebuilding target ambitious enough to begin getting to grips with our chronic housing shortages. The ambition is likely to be featured in their manifesto, so what's the point of making bold commitments but then not having the courage to feature them front and centre of their campaign?
- They've got some making up to do with younger voters. It is younger voters who feel the most betrayed by the Lib Dems for reneging on their pledge to vote against any rises in tuition fees. The current system of university finance looks here to stay, so the Lib Dems ought to be looking for a new way to re-engage younger voters with issues that are affecting them. With the housing crisis predominantly hitting voters under the age of 40, it should be obvious that the best way to appeal to younger voters is to stand up for tackling the housing crisis.
- The housing crisis is particularly bad in many of their target seats. Looking at all Lib Dem held constituencies, the average house costs 9.5 times the average salary, which is even worse than Conservative and Labour held seats. If house prices are especially out of reach of would-be first-time buyers in seats represented by the Lib Dems, shouldn't it be an even higher priority for the Lib Dems to tackle the housing crisis?