Forgive me for straying well away from the main focus of this blog. In the current controversy over the bedroom tax or "spare room subsidy" no one seems to recall the history of what is now contemptuously called social housing.
And then came Margaret Thatcher. A whole new lexicon was created, reflecting the free-market vision. Anyone with aspirations would want to "get on the housing ladder". Only life's losers would want to live in rented accommodation, and only those with special needs should be in "social housing". Thatcher decided to dismantle the whole structure (and, in the process, destroy the power of local councils) by forcing the sell-off of houses at discount prices to their tenants. Councils were not allowed to use the proceeds of the sales to build more housing, so the stock declined much faster than HAs could supply the deficiency. People were encouraged to take on massive debt, and twenty-somethings were given a dozen or more mortgages for buy-to-let properties. The only people who could get the tenancies of social housing were those perceived to be unable to afford to go private but in urgent need.
It has been a resounding victory for the political right. As in other areas of our national life, a century of progress has been rolled back.