How can we tell a simple, persuasive story about Green housing policy? Tom Hill sent me this challenging article about the US Democrats’ recent failure to turn solid facts into folksy stories, reminiscent of George Lakoff’s past work on their failure to frame issues correctly (read this and this).
I’ve been doing some work recently on the Green story about the recession, and what the Mayor of London should do in response. A big part of this is the Green story on housing, since the housing bubble is both a structural weakness in our economy and a negative consequence for the majority of people for whom it is far too expensive. Jenny Jones has recently published a great report explaining the downside of the story, and we’re working together on a follow-up describing a range of rather complex solutions.
So how can we tell our positive story on housing in a way that people can connect with, that will win their emotional sympathy without triggering justified intellectual cynicism? The cynicism should be dealt with by our detailed report, but here’s a first and rather long attempt at the story:
We all want a home we can afford, that we can make our own, and if possible to build up a stake in it for our retirement – a fair approach to housing.
The Labour government has tried to solve this by providing subsidies to big business builders, who offer slightly cheaper private housing that just becomes completely unaffordable later on. Everyone who struggles to afford this can get state handouts – housing benefit or social housing – paid for by the profits of big business, making us all dependent on their success.
The Green Party would hand ownership and control of our land and homes to communities. Instead of expensive short-term subsidies, we would support pensions and other long-term investments into housing that is owned and run by local communities. You could build up a financial stake in your home, and you would pass it on to the next generation at a permanently affordable price.
Does that make sense? I’d love to read any comments and thoughts.